Spatula, Spoon and Saturday

Eating and Cooking all the things in Melbourne

Melbourne Food Review: Mekong, Swanston St., City

Look, let me get one thing straight, I think Mekong* has one of the better pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) out there and believe me I have tried a few from Darra to Springvale (and there’s about 2000km between them) but I strongly disapprove of their god-awful service. I disapprove of ‘cram them in, herd them out’ mentality. I disapprove having to share tiny little laminex tables with strangers.

(Pho Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup $8.00)

Just in case you don’t know, Mekong is very, very popular. You will always end up sharing a table with strangers at any time of the day. The service steadily worsens during lunch hours. That’s how popular they are. Why do people put up with it? I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder if they try the 3-4 other Vietnamese restaurants next door (where the staff don’t treat you like you’re begging for a table), sure, they’re definitely not as good but sometimes it’s just not worth playing musical chairs, get pushed around by other diners due to lack of space (seriously, my chair got knocked every 3 minutes) and putting up with not being to get service.

(Pho Bo – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup $8.00)

Anyway, enough about the service. Let’s get on with the food. I have been a few times however I just get tired of the service. However, recently, I (mistakenly) assigned the task of lunch place decider to Josh and we ended up Mekong.

(accompaniment: beansprouts, Thai basil, lemon wedge)

The noodles are great. Seriously. The soup is beautifully concocted with just the right balance of meatiness and spices. The soup isn’t too fatty and the spices aren’t overpowering. The noodles are fresh (very important, I do not go back to pho joints that use dried rice sticks**) and perfectly cooked. I usually order the rare beef and beef ball combination but I also think very highly of their chicken soup, which was the equivalent of soupy goodness.

(Cha gio – Vietnamese spring rolls 4 for $4.50?)

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said other their other dishes – the spring rolls, rice paper rolls and various other rice dishes, which are average at best. So hit one of the next doors, if you’re not going for the noodle soups.

Mekong Vietnam, 241 Swanston St., Melbourne VIC 3000

* PS. What is this claim about ‘Bill Clinton had two…’ thing on their window? I don’t believe that Bill Clinton ate there because otherwise there would be pictures. I mean, they have Jackie Chan and Sammy Hu and an entourage of seemingly famous people (although I don’t recognise them). So surely, if Clinton had been there, there’d be pictures, no?
** Thy Thy (1) on Vic St. I’m looking at you. I don’t care how much of a hit you are.

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