Review of Mekong Restaurant

6004 W. Broad St.
Richmond, VA

It's surprising to me that Richmond has such good Vietnamese food...when you think multicultural cuisine, Richmond just doesn't come to mind. But Mekong has some amazing dishes and a huge selection. The menu compared to the other Vietnamese places in town (Saigon or ChopStix) is an encyclopedia of Vietnamese dishes. The stuff ranges from the usual noodles diskes and soups to broken rice dishes, hot pots and something called Crazy Beef. I've dragged quite a few people to Mekong, even people who aren't very adventurous in their food choices, and everyone has thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Mekong's service is excellent. It is as good or better than most high class four star restaurants I've been to in Washington DC, New York, and New Orleans. The waiters understand the fine line between great service and overbearing service. It's almost like a ghost has wisked plates away and it's like an old friend presents a steaming new dishes of scrumptious goodies to you. I've never waited mor than 5 minutes for a table, even in the lunchtime crush and I've never had to make a reservation on crowded Friday night. And they very graciously wrap up your leftover and do a very quick take out service.

Well, on to the food. Hrm, what can I say? It's all good! Okay, I didn't like the appetizer sampler...too food fried stuff for me. but their spring rolls are great, both the crispy and the fresh ones. Their Chinese dumplings are better than most Chinese restarant versions. The dough is a bit lighter and the filling tastier and much less greasy. The soups a good too, the Hot and Sour and the Wonton. I usually pass over the big noodle soups, but the ex-faithful guinea pig, really liked them. He recommended the Fish ball soup, which I was wary of and the Squab or some small birdie soup. Who knows, the ex guinea pig is a distant grey thought. On to the main dishes!

As with Saigon the noodle dishes are a great deal. A huge bowl of noodles, fresh vegetables, like bright orange carrots, crispy cucumbers and bean sprouts with some griller meat type thing on top and the choice of peanut or fish sauce and a sprinkling of peanuts. You can also mix the noodle dish with the appetizer and get the noodles with crispy spring rolls on top. Pretty neat if you ask me. But even better than the noodle dishes are the broken rice dishes. Broken rice is a stickier shorter version of steamed rice and it works prefectly with griller sprimp, chicken, beef or pork, fish sauce and vegetables. The rice just absorbs all the flavors and melds them into a fragrant mixture of sweet and spiciness. The other entrees by the way are pretty good too. I've had Butter Fish with mushrooms and ginger and it rocked. One of my other dining companions had a scallop dish that was very mild, yet incredibly tasty.

Sometimes I like to splurge and go for the Hot Pot. I have the seafood hot pot and the mixed meats hot pot. If you don't know what hot pot, think fondue but much cooler. In the middle of the donut shaped pot is a small flaming charcoal burner which they light at your table (watch those eyebrows!) and then you spoon out the broth and meat and vegetables into your own bowl and then you suck it all down. See there's no dipping and waiting involved like with fondue, but you get the excitement of fire at your own table and fighting for the big yummy shrimps floating around the pot. Sure, it's expensive, but you can easily share this with four people and get some appetizers to go with and leave Mekong filled to the brim. Just be careful that your dining partners are not pyromaniacs or greedy little murderous bastards, because your table might end up in flames or you might get stabbed with a fork fighting over those shrimp.

I have never ever been able to even think about desert after a dinner at Mekong, and I usually have leftovers to take home. And I'm never broke when I leave the place. The prices are higher than Saigon, but lower than Chopstix and much better than both. I think for two people for dinner, I spent a whopping $25 dollars. And we both had enough leftovers to make a lunch for two. Lunch specials are much cheaper, about $6 a pop, the special entrees look really good, but are around $10-$16 which is just too much to justify when you can get a noodle dish for so much less. Mekong is just a great place for any meal, too bad they don't do delivery, although it might be a good thing because $6 meals can add up if you do them everyday and Mekong is just that good.