Ridgewood, NJ 07450
- Cost: $$
- Alcohol: BYO
- Parking: Street, Metered
- Take Out: Yes
March 13, 2011
Mekong Grill serves up some decent Vietnamese food in a comfortable downtown Ridgewood location. A nice introduction to the cuisine for those who have never tried it. For those who have, the food here does not rise to the level of other Jersey spots, like South Plainfield’s Saigon or Bloomfield’s Binh Duong, that cater to a more diverse clientele.
The second restaurant from the owners of The Viet Nam Restaurant in Spring Lake, NY, Mekong Grill occupies a fairly small storefront among the bustling Ridgewood restaurant scene, so reservations are essential at peak times. (By the way, I will never complain about parking in Maplewood again.) We snagged the window table for four on a Saturday evening. Service is friendly enough. Our servers were young kids (high school age?) with enthusiasm but little ability to discuss the menu in depth. They forgot about our little table by the window for periods during the evening. No owners in sight and chopsticks were never offered.
The food tastes good, but seems to be toned down a bit for non-Vietnamese palates. (We saw only two Asian customers while we were there.) Spring rolls with grilled sugarcane and ground shrimp were bland, except for the peanut sauce. The softshell crab rolls, on the other hand, were quite good – you could taste the crab. A hot and sour soup (canh chua) with salmon stood out. My wife’s Half Hen with Sticky Rice (xoi ga chien) was tasty but overcooked, too dry. I went for the Pho, ordering Bun Bo Hue Suong (spicy beef broth with beef, pork roll and shrimp dumpling). All the components tasted fine, but the broth did not have the rich depth of flavor I’ve had elsewhere. Likewise, the marinated pork Banh Hoi (lettuce wraps with vermicelli) had some good grilled flavor , but wasn’t as intensely flavored as it could have been. Excellent Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk.
Worth a visit, but Mekong Grill doesn’t crack my top three for Vietnamese food.