I’m kind of silly sometimes. That’s the moral of how we went here. Basically, I met someone who was Vietnamese, and asked him for his favorite pho place, so he told me about Pho Mekong. That’s not so silly: what’s silly is that months and months ago, a friend of a friend was telling me about this very same place… because he manages it. Oops! Hahaha. (I didn’t actually realize it until after we’d already eaten there, and then I got to thinking about it and confirmed with him later.)
So after a super fun long day – Malaysian for lunch, The Avengers in 3D (opening weekend! go see it! and sit through 2 sets of credits!), and bowling, Cheese and I were pretty hungry. I realized we were close to this place, and knowing his affinity for pho and my own, I decided we should head over here. Thankfully I found it in one shot and didn’t have to circle back around (I’m notorious for busting illegal u-turns when I’m looking for something…)
I was a little nervous because I don’t usually like restaurants that mix cuisines – not fusion, just those that don’t focus on one cuisine. But we gamely pressed on…
As usual, an order of summer rolls, which came with pickled veggies on the side (yay!) and no long chive in the center (which I always remove). These were tasty enough, though not a stand out in either direction. They seemed to be more noodle than anything else, actually, but I shrugged and just ate it.
Peanut sauce for the summer rolls and a huge plate of fresh jalapenos, bean sprouts, limes and cilantro! I LOVE CILANTRO. I was ecstatic to see that instead of the Thai basil that’s often served with pho instead. Even more excited when Cheese only took a little and allowed me to take the rest !!!
I ordered the standard pho, but added beef balls. Shockingly, it was $3 extra for beef balls! (I didn’t find out until I got the bill, but I could have asked.) My noodles seemed a bit overcooked and were clumping together initially, but after a few stirs around, they loosened up and were springy goodness. As for the broth… whoa! This is not like the star-anise forward broth to which I’m accustomed around NYC. No no no. This was clove-heavy, and actually really delicious. I didn’t even know I liked clove like this, but in this broth, it really worked. Slightly sweet, deeply savory, I found this really enjoyable. Cheese agreed (he had the same as me, though a larger size), and we both happily slurped away. The meats were good (I don’t really find myself paying much attention to meats usually in pho, I’m all about the broth and noodles) as well. I really enjoyed my bowl though and will definitely be back for more – sooner the better! This may replace Pho Bang as my favorite NYC pho spot. MAY. The location is farther and requires me to drive (while I do normally drive to Pho Bang, I can just as easily take the subway).
Yvo says: The jury’s still out – I need to go back a few more times and test for consistency, and try their bun (cold noodle salad bowl). I mean, I’ve been going to Pho Bang easily 17 years or more… I’ve been through it all with them (bad chefs included). I really need to eat at Pho Mekong another 5-10 times before I make a final decision, but if this initial visit is any indication, I will definitely be back more and more… yum, so good!