Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mekong, Vietnamese, Melbourne CBD

Telephone : (03) 9663 3288
Adddress : 241 Swanston St Melbourne 3000

Short review: cheap and cheerful.

Long review:

Food was good, cheap Vietnamese fare. The egg noodle soup with thin-sliced beef was great value at $7-ish - you can pay that for a basic sandwich in the city. Serves were generously sized. The chicken-and-prawn spring rolls were crisp and tasty.

While I don't have the worldliness of my dining companions, Rowan and Chai, I'm not convinced it's the best Vietnamese food I've ever had. Having eaten at Saigon Palace in South Caulfield pretty much weekly when I lived near there, I'd have to say that Mekong's soup stock was a little too rich by comparison, and lacked subtlety in flavour. The vegetables were clearly terrified by the stock, and had hidden themselves well.

Chai and Rowan had the presence of mind to order broken-rice dishes with BBQ meats. They looked sensational, and smelt terrific (their arrival ten minutes or so before my meal added a certain piquancy too, I'm sure).

How to describe the service? It would be overstating to say it was unfriendly - perhaps extremely disinterested would be fairer. I had a moment of genuine alarm when, after taking orders from my dining companions, the waiter stowed his PDA and fixed me with a deeply apathetic stare. I had visions of a Vietnamese soup nazi shouting "No soup for you!" in my face. The truth was less interesting - he took that order on paper.

The decor was clearly from the Cheap Takeaway school of design - serviceable, but basic. Tables were jammed in so tightly that portlier diners would probably need the services of a shoe-horn to get into chairs. Every seat was taken, and hungry prospective diners milled near the entrance, eyeing our table pointedly.

As Chai pointed out, we weren't eating there for the service. Quite right. The food was the point, and the food was great for the price. Will I be back? Hell yes. Gotta try the broken rice!


Chai said...

I seem to recall that I had the grilled chicken with vermicelli, and not the rice. I can still visualise the ritual pouring of the universal sauce all over the noodles.

cnwb said...

Watch your bags here. My dining companion had her handbag lifted from the back of her seat.

Mel said...

Broken Rice dishes are delicious,
So too are full formed rice - :)
I enjoyed Mekong when I visited, I had soup because it was cold, and I was feelin' blue - it cheered me right up.

sublime-ation said...

Is great to get more tips on good Asian places. Thanks BF.

Husky Nutmeg said...

What's a Broken Rice Dish?

Great post BF.

Banttha Fodder said...

Broken rice? It's one of those things I've long been ignorant about. You spurred me to action, and I asked Mr. Google. He said this.

So there you go - broken rice is exactly what it sounds like. Mind you, I'm not encouraged to read on that page that "The dog food industry uses the majority of the broken rice" - ulp! Maybe I won't order that when I'm there.

Husky Nutmeg said...

Thanks for the reference and education BF.

Your reference mentioned,
'Broken rice tends to get mushy during cooking...'
In that case is the texture of the dishes something like a risotto???

Signed Stupid

Banttha Fodder said...

Well, I don't know that I've ever had a dish with broken rice, so I can't be too much help. Ro's dish didn't look mushy to me though.

I'll report back on dish-mushiness at a later stage.

Husky Nutmeg said...

Many thanks - I'll look forward to that. Maybe I should just get there and find out for myself.

Signed stupid and lazy

Anonymous said...

Urg. I've been to mekong twice (once more because I wanted to give it another chance, since a friend loves it) and i love cheap and cheerful, but mekong is ARSE and alway will be.

Banttha Fodder said...

Dammit, stop mincing words! Did you like it or not? :-)

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