Fat Dragon: Pig Head, Roasted to Order
566 Powell Street, Vancouver
Diana (Foodology) and I had our own food challenge on Friday night when we decided to order the Roast Pig’s Head at new Asian and Southern BBQ fusion restaurant, Fat Dragon in Railtown, Vancouver.
Newly opened, Fat Dragon serves up some interesting fusion items, and the one that stands out the most on the menu is the Smoked and Roasted Half Pig’s head. As food bloggers, how could we ignore this? Our server’s jaw almost dropped when we ordered this. He explained that usually a table of 4 to 6 guests will order this item. He obviously didn’t know who he was talking to. Diana and I can polish off a dozen donuts in one sitting.
The pig’s head also made me think of the recent snout to tail movement in London, where chefs would use every single part of an animal for a dish, utilizing the most unconventional parts from pig snouts, to intestines and tails. Totally punk.
As we waited for our pig’s head to be roasted, we ordered some drinks and steamed buns.
Diana ordered a beer while I stuck with a fruity cocktail. The steamed buns we ordered were the Slow-smoked Beef Deckle, served with cabbage and peanuts and the Crunchy Squid with scallion, coriander and chili salt. I preferred the crunchy squid. The curly pieces of fried squid really were crunchy and freshly fried, not in the last oily. They were well-seasoned and delicious. The bun was also incredibly soft and as light as air. The little bun with all its vibrate colourful fillings was plated beautifully. That’s one thing about fusion over traditional steamed buns from Chinese restaurants, fusion restaurants put an amazing amount of effort into presentation and the partnering of ingredients to bring out the most subtle nuances of flavours. The chopped coriander was a cooling element to the spicy chiles in this little soft bun and the crunchy squid definitely contrasted the softness in the bun.
The beef bun was equally as gorgeous. And was also not without crunchy texture. The cabbage was crunchy and fresh and the beef was so soft, moist and flavourful. It’s hard to believe there would be so much flavour packed into such a small, little bun.
Now, onto the main event: our roasted pig’s head. Honestly, when the pig’s head came to the table it was so much smaller than I had envisioned. Only taking up half the plate, it totally seemed like we could finish it in no time flat. It smelled amazing, like the best rich and smoky aromas of bacon and suckling pig rolled into one.
The skin on the cheeks had already been stripped away, exposing all the fatty meat, glistening and dripping, ready to be consumed. I went straight for the cheeks and the lower jaw part, pulling out some pretty juicy, fatty long pieces of meat. Who knew there was so much meat in just the head of a pig? The pig’s head is served with lettuce leaves, kimchi, lemon and scallion. We were supposed to wrap the pig meat in the lettuce leaves along with the toppings.
It’s pretty hard not to nibble away at the moist meat falling off the bone as you’re making your wrap though.
The crisp and refreshing lettuce leaves were the perfect wrappers for the heavy, dense and fatty pork, the lettuce providing a cool juiciness.
As we were eating this pig’s head, at least 3 of the servers came over to our corner table to check on us, I was beginning to think that we were the first diners to ever order this item. In addition to that, a couple of other diners also came over to check on our progress. It really felt like we were in some sort of Food Network eating challenge. As we chatted and nibbled, the pig’s head disappeared in no time. We even flipped the head over and dug out all the little slivers of meat stuck in the crevices under the eye socket and jaw. I loved the plump cheek meat the best and the fattiest strips of meat under the jaw. Diana tried snapping the pig’s ear but the skin was much too tough. Our server told us the ear was actually his favourite part, it’s usually crispy, like a chip, he said. We’ll have to try it next time.
To wash down all the fatty meat we just ate, we ordered some tea. I went with the vanilla oolong tea, which was fragrant and light. The perfect drink after a heavy meal.
Looking at the dessert menu, we also decided to order the Fat Dragon Chocolate Bars. I’ll admit that I ordered these because they were stamped with the Fat Dragon brand name. However, I will also admit that I was disappointed to find that they were just regular chocolate bars wrapped in plastic and put on a plate. When I read the menu, I was expecting more of a gourmet, brownie bar or some sort of cake in the shape of a bar with a big dollop of whipped cream. After all, these chocolate bars are a whopping $7.50 each!
The milk chocolate bar came with crispy rice and toasted coconut with a dash of cinnamon. I don’t like coconut (neither did Diana) but the crispy rice added a nice crunch to the sweet and smooth milk chocolate bar. I can’t say that there’s anything else special about this chocolate. The chocolate actually was not as sweet as I would have expected either.
The second chocolate bar was a dark chocolate with smoked peanuts, candied ginger and sea salt. We definitely tasted the sea salt in this chocolate and the peanuts added a great crunch. But again, this was just a regular chocolate bar but somehow, it was the most expensive dessert on the menu.
I will go back to Fat Dragon though. The service was wonderful and there are so many other menu items that I still want to try!