Telephone : (03) 9663 3288
Adddress : 241 Swanston St Melbourne 3000
Short review: cheap and cheerful.
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!