Review: Mekong Grill

(updated 1/2010 with prices, hours, and one visit)

Mekong Grill

Since the drive to work takes me down SE 13th Avenue every day, and since I love a good bowl of pho, I was delighted to discover this new place, which features beef pho and chicken pho as their daily specials. I’ve had their beef pho several times; the broth lacks the overtones of sweet spice in Pho Van’s version, but makes up for that with a delicious beefy intensity. The beef slices are tender (except for a gristly piece one time), the noodles aren’t overcooked, and the add-your-own ingredients (bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, lime, hot peppers) are invariably snapping fresh. At $6.95 for a huge bowl, this is a great deal. The chicken pho is also very good, with a rich chicken broth spiked with fresh ginger.

I’ve been here several times by myself and once with a friend, so I haven’t had a chance to sample much of the rest of the menu, but what I’ve had has been very good. The salad rolls are basically like the salad rolls anywhere in Portland, but Mekong’s are especially fresh and crisp, with clean bright flavors. I liked the honey lemongrass chicken skewers served with vermicelli; the chicken was delicious, not overcooked, and was nicely complemented by the accompanying vegies, fresh mint, and dipping sauce. My friend really loved the garlic shrimp.

I’ve only gotten take-out once, the “Fresh Grilled Salad” with chicken; it made a perfect light lunch.

The space is unusually attractive for a small storefront restaurant: soft neutral colors, an intriguing rock and wire mesh installation on one wall suggesting a river bed, bamboo-topped tables plus a long wooden table for communal seating, and a couple of nicely arranged flower displays. It’s always spotless. The service is cheerful and efficient, and the kitchen gets the food out quickly.

I don’t know if they’ve applied for a wine/beer license, but beer or fruit-forward wine would complement this food nicely.

I gather Mekong has only been open a month or so, so it’s not surprising that business appears to be a little slow. However, IMHO it deserves a lot more customers!

Here is a recent menu:

Salads
Fresh Grilled Salad $7.50
Choice of grilled meat or tofu with romaine, jicama, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts served with sesame ginger vinaigrette (substitute garlic shrimp: add $1.00)
Grilled Chicken Cabbage Salad $7.50
Shredded green and red cabbage, carrots, fresh mint with sesame ginger vinaigrette
Lotus Salad $7.95
Lotus roots, daikon, carrots, shrimp, pork, fresh mint, chopped peanuts and nuoc cham

Lighter Side
Crispy Egg Rolls (2) $3.50
Crispy rolls filled with ground pork and vegetables served with nuoc cham
Salad Rolls (2) $3.50
Shrimp, pork, vermicelli noodles and vegetables rolled in rice paper served with plum peanut sauce
Tofu Rolls (2) $3.75
Fresh tofu with assorted vegetables wrapped in rice paper served with plum peanut sauce
Crispy Vegetarian Egg Rolls (2) $3.75
Filled with tofu and vegetables served with nuoc cham

Rice Entrees
Grilled and served over jasmine rice with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, chives and nuoc cham
Honey Lemongrass Chicken, Pork or Tofu $6.95
Sesame Beef $7.50
Sesame Short Ribs $7.75
Garlic Shrimp $7.95

Vermicelli Noodle Entrees
Served with lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, daikon, fresh mint, chopped peanuts and nuoc cham
Honey Lemongrass Chicken or Pork $7.25
Grilled Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Pork Sausage) $7.50
Crispy Egg Rolls $7.25
Vegetarian Crispy Egg Rolls $7.50
Garlic Shrimp $8.25

Add an egg roll for $1.25

Side Orders

Skewer $2.75
(Chicken, Pork, Beef or Tofu)
Side of Steamed Rice $1.50

  • Phone: 503-808-9092 Fax: 503-808-9093
  • Address: 7952 SE 13th Ave., Portland, OR 97202
  • Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11:30am-3pm and 5pm-9pm Closed Sunday.
  • Website: mekonggrill.com

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