My 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 some versions, but makes up for that with a delicious beefy intensity. The beef slices are tender, the noodles are properly cooked, and the add-your-own ingredients (bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, lime, hot peppers) are snapping fresh. At less than $8 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 it deserves a lot more customers!
- Phone: 503-808-9092 Fax: 503-808-9093
- Address: 7952 SE 13th Ave., Portland, OR 97202
- Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11:30am–9pm
- Website: mekonggrill.com