In March of this year, Chef Guy Wong, the restaurateur who delivered Atlanta Asian fusion joints Miso Izakaya and Yum Bunz, launched his third attempt at a hit restaurant. Le Fat, nestled among countless other Westside restaurants and retail stores, offers Atlantans modestly priced Vietnamese food that is simple and well-executed.
Just southwest of campus on Marietta Street, it is a manageable walk or a short Uber ride away. Parking is available by valet or wherever possible as there tend to be open spots in the small lot behind Octane, the coffee shop.
In the Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald remarks, “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
Le Fat absolutely supports this opinion; the restaurant, and all its customers, are captivated by a mutual energy. There is nothing astonishing about the decor, which could be improved, but the small dining room and closely arranged tables bring another type of dynamic — sound.
Customers feel strangely comfortable and happy with their fellow restaurant-goers surrounding them and laughing in an escapist manner. Loud restaurants can be irritating at times, but its volume gives Le Fat a positive characteristic that makes the customers’ experience much more fun.
From a service perspective, Le Fat seems more like a veteran establishment than the rookie brasserie it is. It is easy and convenient to call and make a reservation either for the same day or for weeks in advance.
The servers were vibrant, yet to the point. They can only speak with passion as they must raise their voices to communicate over the wonderful background noise.
As an example of the servers’ good will, Matthew, a waiter last Saturday, walked through the menu with a pescatarian customer, outlining safe dishes and those that the cooks could modify without hesitation. The general hustle and bustle of the service staff gives the dining room a busy vibe, adding to the crazy, high-tempo ambiance.
The ultimate objective of a restaurant, though, is to serve superb food, and Le Fat does not let customers down by any means. To start, the bowl of phở broth, at only $3, is extremely affordable and was smooth, reserved, and delicious, even without all the rice noodles, meat, and herbs in a typical bowl of phở.
The soft-shell BLT bun appetizer was nicely fried but proved to be a bit overpowering when compared to the other delicate flavors of the steamed bun and the other fillers. The server’s recommendation was the crowning jewel, though. As an entree, the clay pot chicken achieves astounding levels of excellence.
The pot is brought to the table, and the server places it to lift the lid and overwhelm the guest with an immaculate fragrance. Filled to the brim with perfectly seasoned, beautifully cooked bite-sized morsels of chicken, accompanied by sautéed onions, peppers and a side of rice, this dish’s simplicity is what propels it to the next level.
Atlanta, as a food Mecca, proves to be ever-expanding, providing new venue options every year (watch for the Ponce City Market food court openings). This year, with Le Fat, Guy Wong shows both his ability as a high-grade restaurateur and his culinary prowess as a chef, a worthy trip for a magnetic atmosphere and fantastic food.
Our Take: 4/5 stars