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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eat Me: Mekong Asian Restaurant

Greetings one and all to a very long anticipated article on Pittsburgh Underground’s favorite secret dining spots for anyone who loves Chinese cuisine done right. Mekong (located at 1429 Potomac Ave, Dormont PA 15216 / 412 531 8066) is literally the very best in the city of Pittsburgh for those who want a family friendly dining experience, the most flavorful food on the planet, and don’t want to break the bank while doing so.

Nestled as a cornerstone of Potomac Avenue, Mekong specializes in the tastiest Asian treats that surpass what most American’s know as ‘asian-fast-food’ into some of the most pleasurable and carefully constructed dishes that only the proprietor, Thanh Nguyen (better known as ‘mom’ ) could make. Born in Saigon, Ms. Nguyen opened Mekong in 2000 and has been delighting patrons with her decadent dishes ever since.

An intimate dining experience that truly feels like visiting old friends is the best way to describe Mekong. Mekong is all about the homemade food (always from scatch) from mom and the personal service provided by mom’s kids - Theresa, Lisa, and Phero who always greet us with a big smile, lots of conversation, and amazing memories! The gang here at good ol’ PU have never been to a restaurant that not only remembers us as patrons, but also the dishes we’ve tried and our individual preferences for what we can now no longer live without.

When asked what got her started, Thanh replied that when she moved to the states she wasn't educated & couldn't speak English. She already knew how to cook Vietnamese food and learned how to cook Chinese food from other Asians. With her love of cooking, it only made sense to try and make a living at it. The name ‘Mekong’ was taken from the delta that runs through north and south Vietnam where mom lived growing up. She wanted pay tribute to her childhood she named her restaurant after it.

Generous portions of unrivaled appetizers always start our epicurean journey from Dragon-Phoenix soup, steamed dumplings, and egg rolls as we patiently wait for more of mom’s cooking to grace our table. We tried so many dishes that we love that no words can truly do them justice so to be fair, let’s describe some of our favorites...


Mekong's General Tso's Shrimp with Steamed Dumplings

Most everything we order comes family style (although we all have a tendency to hoard our favorites to ourselves!) so no matter what, there’s always a little extra to take with us. Mekong’s General Tso’s Shrimp is created with so much love that it literally bursts with every bite you take. First of all, they are the largest shrimp that we’ve ever seen - mom never skimps when it comes to her customers! An alchemy of crunchy outside, tender inside, with both sweet and hot spices that wake up the tongue with each bite. One of the best dishes on the menu!

On cooler days we all opt for mom’s delicious Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup containing beef, rice noodles, herbs and spices. There is nothing better than a gigantic bowl of this peppery soup when the wind starts picking up and you need some quick comfort food to warm your bones, and trust us - mom always delivers!

Mekong's Crispy Singapore Noodles

One of our absolute favorite signature dishes is the Singapore noodles. Crispy, flavorful, and packed with all your favorite Asian staples - bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken, beef, or pork (or all if you like), egg, greens, and of course, love from mom! Every bite melts in your mouth and satisfies to the point of euphoria. Believe it or not, the gang from PU almost always orders seconds to take with us for a late night snack - yes, it is just that good!

To say that we love the food that Thanh prepares would be an understatement. When we asked Thanh’s daughter Theresa what her mom’s secret is she told us that, “The thing that makes our food different from other restaurants is the time we put in buying vegetables and ensuring the quality of food. We will not sell anything we wouldn't eat ourselves or feed our families. In our Mekong noodles its a mix of cabbage carrots onions eggs and rice noodles mixed and it's sautéed to perfection. In our ying chow Cantonese chow mein, we pan fry egg noodles then top them with Chinese vegetables chicken pork and shrimp in a dark garlic sauce. Also, to limit the fat in our food my mom steams all the vegetables”.

Mekong's Beef & Broccoli

Absolutely nothing mom makes is processed, filled with preservatives, or anything that’s not good for you. That’s right - everything you order is made fresh, in record time, and even when you order extra to go you will never break the bank (on any given evening, two gigantic plates of yum barely reached the $15 to $20 mark). Mekong also delivers which makes getting all your favorites incredibly easy and worth the phone call.

For those of you worried about parking, there’s a free lot just around the corner to the right of the establishment which makes it the perfect spot for diner and a movie (as the Hollywood Theater is literally a block walk down the street).

Mekong has literally everything you could want in a family friendly dining experience for anyone who loves food from the orient - amazing tastes, the best service in town, perfect prices, and best of all - it’s all cooked with lots of love by mom.

EAT ME RATING: 5 out of 5 Forked Tongues

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