“Mmm, noodle soup!” Pho Mekong, a hidden gem

By Hailey Hayman ’14

Pho Mekong House of Noodles is an almost invisible Vietnamese restaurant located on a barren cross section corner in Utica.  Though we nearly drove right past the faded Pho Mekong sign, I am so glad we made it inside for a unique meal. The overall ambiance at Pho Mekong was a very relaxing distraction from the Commons chaos. 
My dinner companion, Adi Fracchia, was quickly sold on the restaurant due to the presence of cock sauce at our table. For those of you who have also never heard someone exclaim about a bottle of cock sauce, she was referring to the Sriracha, which has a rooster on the bottle.

We were promptly served a complementary pot of steaming tea that Adi was literally inhaling throughout the course of the meal. Though tea was provided immediately, water did not come standard, so do not hesitate to request a glass, but be sure to emphasize the entire party is interested and not just the one asking.

In general our waitress had a minimal presence during the meal. The nice welcoming gesture of tea allowed us to peruse the daunting menu without such an overwhelming distraction of hunger. Though the menus are initially overwhelming due to the numbered foreign names and English description, the options are actually well organized to assist your decision-making.

We began with two types of spring rolls.  I chose the Veg 61 Bi Cuon Chay, vegetarian spring rolls served with veggie soy sauce.  I was intrigued by what exactly veggie soy sauce was, and though a good compliment to the spring rolls, I do not recommend putting the excess on rice, less than delicious.

Adi selected the A1 Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls), which included shrimp and chicken and were served with peanut hoisin sauce.  I highly recommend a side order of peanut sauce to dress whatever you order: spring rolls, rice, veggies, meat, it can do no wrong to a dish.

I was initially drawn to Pho Mekong House of Noodles because of my unfamiliarity with the Vietnamese dish pho.  Pho is a large broth soup with noodles and traditionally either beef or chicken with a smattering of various greens, but vegetarian style with tofu is an option.  My bowl of pho was overflowing with broth, hidden beneath which was a seemingly endless mountain of noodles.  It was pho-king huge, as evidenced by the before and after photos of my bowl.  Even after eating my fill I had probably only consumed a quarter of the dish, but who doesn’t love leftovers!

My pho experience is not one I would quickly indulge in again.  I attribute my lack of enthusiasm for pho to the over abundance of bland tofu and imagine their other varieties are more flavorful.  Ultimately what’s not to like about a variation on noodle soup!

When you are ready to pay do not bother waiting for the waitress to retrieve the bill, simply take it to the front desk and you will be helped right away.  I would not say the staff at Pho Mekong is neglectful, rather they choose to let you sit in peace to enjoy your companions and food without distraction. I left Pho Mekong House of Noodles feeling warm and relaxed and with an urge to return for more of their endless supply of Vietnamese cuisine.


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