I wouldn’t call Mekong authentic or traditional or haute (at all). It is cheap and Westernized Vietnamese cuisine that tastes damn good. Located on the Northern edge of Soho on 6th Ave, Mekong is a haven for chic actor/actress types craving rockin’ tunes and cheap tasty Vietnamese food and drink.
The restaurant is kitschy wonderful with twinkling white Christmas lights, cheap photo art, and basic dark wood furniture. The front room is crowded with tables and features an over-sized bar. The back room is more spacious and great for group dining. Everyone around me was young and hip, dressed to the 9s hipster-style, and looking to have a good time. By the end of the meal, the fashionable group up front was dancing on their feet to the mix tape of guaranteed-to-please tunes.
The menu consists of two pages stocked with Vietnamese-ish delights such as pork ribs, filet mignon, fried rice, dumplings, pho, glass noodles, other noodles, pad thai, fried squid and prawns in many different ways. Nothing on the menu really LOOKED authentically Vietnamese at all; however, it tasted distinctly Vietnamese once served. For example, my grilled chicken angel hair vermicelli sounded like a straightforward Italian dish, yet tasted exotic, spicy, and suspiciously like pho. Italian or Vietnamese, it was delicious – hearty enough for a satisfying meal and cheap to boot. It came with an addictive dipping sauce that I sloshed all over the dish and couldn’t get enough of. My dining companion also ordered the five spice-rubbed pork ribs that were sweet, tender, and very well-seasoned. The spring rolls were greasy, but not heavy – they were stuffed with a scrumptious mash of pork and vegetables that was thick and not stringy. Yum!
Mekong is perfect for a laid-back and delicious meal. It was cheap and satisfying. The food wasn’t fancy or over-done – it just hit the spot. With enough space for large groups, I could see this as a great place for hosting birthday dinners and reunions. The Grade A music selection and easy-going staff make for a let-it-loose good time.