If you’ve ventured over to Chippendale lately, you’ll know that Kensington Street is now a thriving foodie hub and one of the newer kids on the block is Mekong, a sleek restaurant showcasing cuisine from all the South-East Asian countries that the river it is named after passes through.
Not to be confused with the hawker style Vietnamese restaurant downstairs, Mekong’s menu is an ambitious re-imagining of traditional dishes from Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam (of course) with a modern twist. The polished wooden decor is matched by the contemporary presentation of their dishes and their attentive service, it is definitely a different experience from the usual South East Asian meal in Sydney, with a price tag to match.
We started our food journey up the Mekong with some of their charmingly named “little jetties” a.k.a. small bites. We loved their Little Prawn, with softer than usual school prawns which were fried to perfection in an addictive blend of onion, shallot, coriander and chilli, paired with a tangy lime mayo. Their Little Fish was also very tasty, featuring Thai style crispy anchovies that were doused in a zesty mix of lime, lemongrass and chilli which got our appetites going.
Little Prawn, $6
Little Fish, $5
For our first entree, we were treated to two delicate Squid Ink Dumplings, encasing a Thai shredded crabmeat and prawn filling. It was served with a fragrant pho broth that was poured from a teapot into the bowl of dumplings, enhancing the dish with even more flavour. Part of the beauty of this dish (unlike other squid ink dishes where it coats the dish) is that the black liquid is used to colour dumpling skin when they are made to order in the kitchen – so you don’t wind up with black teeth!
Squid Ink Dumplings, $12
The seafood hits kept on coming with the gorgeous Lady of the Shallot showcasing succulent scallops which had been grilled in bacon oil – you can definitely taste that distinctive flavour in each bite of the scallop meat. They were served with a fresh coconut salad on top which helped balance out the rich flavour.
Lady of the Shallot, $15
Onto the mains, the Full Moon was recommended as their signature dish and when it came out, it was easy to see why – the flavoursome red curry was impressively presented in a hollowed out steamed coconut shell, with juicy tiger prawns peeking out and a smoking cinnamon scroll on the side enhancing the effect. The coconut shell wasn’t just a gimmick either, it was highly functional servingware which absorbed the delicious curry aromas, meaning that you could scrape the sides of the shell for some bonus chunks of curry coconut.
Full Moon, $28
Our other main was the more conventional Vientiane Wagyu, featuring thin slivers of Lao BBQ style wagyu beef tossed with a fresh salad and seasoned with roasted rice powder and an appetising house made tamarind sauce.
Vientiane Wagyu, $26
We also ordered one of their sides, which was the wittily named Family Chan – this was an unexpectedly addictive Burmese salad thanks to the fried shallot and garlic oil used with the chan tofu (made from chickpeas), fresh tomato, coriander, chilli powder and roasted peanut for a side packed so full of flavour that could shine on its own.
The Family Chan, $10
Mekong’s desserts were a revelation as well, especially their pretty Rosewater Lychee – not only was it beautiful to look at, the delicate fruity, floral flavours were softly woven into their mousse and cut through with refreshing mango puree and crispy meringue drops for texture. A modern take on a tropical dessert that shows how talented their kitchen is – though their Bangkok Icecream Bowl shows that they can do traditional exotic desserts well too, with a smooth coconut icecream loaded up with pomegranate seeds, sweet corn, moreish sticky rice and some intriguing palm seeds which were quite chewy.
Rosewater Lychee, $12
Bangkok Icecream Bowl, $10
Mekong lives up to its bold claim of taking you on a travelling feast through the banks of the various countries that its namesake river passes through – with brilliant dishes, stylish upmarket decor and fantastic service, it’s the whole package and one of the most exciting additions to the city dining scene.
Excuse Me Waiter dined as guests of Mekong