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The Vietnam in Ridgewood!

sixelagogo Nov 28, 2010 04:52 AM

Someone posted a message on the NYState board that the owners of the Vietnam have opened a sister restaurant in Ridgewood called the Mekong Grill. Have not tried the new place yet, but the Vietnam is perhaps one of my favourite Vietnamese restaurants EVER. If it's anything like their SpringValley place, life in Bergen County just got better.


  1. p
    pizolski May 15, 2011 08:25 AM

    All the fuss about this restaurant is completely unfounded. I was very disappointed in every dish A cuisine known for its layers of flavorsof lemon grass, cilantro and the like, should not be bland; ours was, except for the Pho which was swimming in grease surrounded by floating shoeleather like mystery meat. The heat of the dish can only be said to be a disguise for its otherwise lack of flavor: All one could say about it was that it was hot. The noodles were overcooked. The green papaya salad tasted like it had storebought lemonaid on it as a dressing. Moreover, the waitstaff was either rude or clueless. The waitress was completely befuddled by the question," are there any specials?". We sent back a dish of black pepper shrimp which can only be described as "kentucky fried" rubber bands. No taste except for the crunchy batter and a chew of, well, rubberbands. When we got the check, the item which was returned was still listed on the bill. The waiter, when questioned about it, was extremely rude. We asked to speak to the manager. We were told he was on vacation. We then asked who made the decision to charge us. We were told the chef who was the owner. Never once in my life have we been charged for a returned dish (which fortunately rarely happens). Usually the return is accompanied by apologies and accomodation. Here, the waiter was exceedingly rude as if he were personally affronted by the suggestion. I would never eat here again and I would seriously discourage anyone from having their first Vietnamese meal here because you would never want to eat it again. And that would be sad because there is so much good Vietnamese food out there (I have had some in Jersey City,for example), that you'd really be missing out on a wonderful culinary adventure.

    green papaya
    Riveredge, NJ, Riveredge, NJ

    3 Replies
    1. re: pizolski
      tommy May 15, 2011 09:04 AM

      Sounds like you had a bad experience. I've had good experiences, although I think the food too Americanized for my taste. Not a lot, but since I know that their other restaurant serves slightly different food, I'd like to see that food on this menu.

      That said, I always look forward to my meals here and I always look forward to returning.

      1. re: tommy
        pizolski May 15, 2011 10:59 AM

        Are you speaking of the Mekong Grill or Vietnam? ,At the Mekong Grill in Ridgewood, NJ, the food was mediocre at best. Really bland. I would not return. The most galling thing, though, was the arrogance of the owner/chef in charging us for a plate we returned as if to say, "I am incapable of error. The problem is the consumer", an attitude I find quite pervasive these days. What ever happened to the customer is always right? And the waitstaff, with one exception, was either rude or dopey. I mean really, should the attitude be, "it's an honor to eat here?"

        1. re: pizolski
          menton1 May 15, 2011 11:15 AM

          I had a less-than-acceptable experience at Mekong last fall. The wait staff was green and bewildered, and the food was mediocre at best. Not a good formula for success...

    2. michele cindy Apr 9, 2011 06:56 PM

      kind of stumbled upon this place tonight, and so glad we did. Really loved it, the food took really long but it was great. Had the ground pork bun, with vermacelli and lettuce, shrimp stir fried noodles, and tempura crab roll. The kids really liked it too. I now have to try the Spring Valley location. plus it being byob is a nice thing too. Had the sticky rice, grilled banana for dessert, with peanut, also interesting tastes and good.

      1. l
        lutece Dec 4, 2010 06:21 PM

        Bergen county just got better! Time to celebrate, finally a great reasonable restaurant in Ridgewood with wonderful , fresh food. We are big time vietnamese food lovers. We love Vietnam in Spring Valley but hate the atmosphere and ride there. Found this place by chance and then found out it was the same family as Vietnam and couldn't have been happier.
        We had to shrimp crepe wrapped it up in lettuce and mint, delicious. Then the bun was just perfect i got honey chicken, with the right amount of noodles, cucumber and crunchies, they also served it with little yummy eggrolls. The atmosphere is really nice, the service was great, and friendly. The people are really nice . I can't wait to go back. I give it an EXCELLENT.
        Look out Dim sum dynasty, even though i love you, i think i love this more and it's probably healthier.

        1. m
          melissa511 Dec 1, 2010 12:30 PM

          It sounds great, but that website is really irritating! You can download a menu, but there are no prices attached ... It also takes a little searching to find the address and phone number.

          1 Reply
          1. re: melissa511
            melissa511 Dec 2, 2010 06:03 AM

            Inspired by this discussion, I got takeout there last night -- really good food and reasonable prices! I love Vietnamese food and have missed it since moving here from the West Coast, so I hope Mekong Grill thrives in Ridgewood. Based on sixelagogo's post, I ordered the pho tai ($9 for huge bowl that could serve two) and bun triple threat ($13). I also ordered spring rolls ($7 for 2 good-size ones) and Vietnamese pork chops ($11). All were excellent: fresh, clean flavors with a tasty char on the meats. Next time I'll try the banh mi ($6) for lunch.

          2. sixelagogo Nov 28, 2010 12:39 PM

            So after blabbing about Mekong Grill in Ridgewood, I had to check it out...went there this afternoon with my dude. Long story short: great food, adequate service, & way more atmosphere than the Vietnam.
            We had:
            Pho Tai- Fabulous- and just as terrific as Spring Valley's
            Bahn Xeo: Vietnamese Pancake- Best one I've ever had- no grease & crispy throughout.
            Vietnamese Fajita (don't know what the proper name is): Perfectly cooked/served
            Bun Triple Threat: Beef, Chicken, and Shrimp with pressed noodles: Very Good

            My only complaints:
            1. the waitron was very young, didn't know the menu, and wasn't (it seemed) familiar with Vietnamese food (or waiting on tables).. Nice, but inexperienced.

            2. New Vietnamese pop music: Maybe i'm old fashioned, but I prefer the old stuff (80's Viet. music) at Spring Valley

            Pricewise, Mekong is about 1-2$ more expensive/menu item, though I expected this with Ridgewood rents. Value for the money was good.

            Atmosphere: Anyone familiar with Vietnam in Spring Valley knows it's a mom and pop shop. Somewhat harsh lighting, cock sauce/chopsticks/spoons/hoisin on the table. What it lacks in traditional atmosphere, it makes up for in warmth...the staff there will always remember you and treat you like family. Mekong has DATE NIGHT written all over- it's kinda sexy with orange walls, dark wood fixtures and good lighting. This is the place to take your future significant other who's never had Vietnamese food out to dinner on a Saturday night, whereas Spring Valley is the kinda spot you hit on a Sunday Afternoon with yer significant other after 7 years of being together.

            Would I go back: absolutely. Life in BC did just get a little tastier.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sixelagogo
              JRBlack Nov 28, 2010 06:37 PM

              Sixelagogo, my husband and I ate at Mekong Grill this weekend and liked it very much--your date night characterization is dead on. The food's great but the decor elevates it to a very different experience than in Spring Valley.

            2. menton1 Nov 28, 2010 05:39 AM

              Good news, will have to try the place. This is a nice addition to the poor state of Ridgewood dining lately. Don't forget though, that in Tenafly on the other side of the county, there is the wonderful Simply Vietnamese, that moved to larger quarters from Englewood and continues to churn out wonderful Vietnamese-style dishes nightly. The Pho here is the absolute BEST on this side of the Pacific!!

              P.S. Also nice to see a post about Bergen County, it gets very little play on CH New Jersey...

              5 Replies
              1. re: menton1
                sixelagogo Nov 28, 2010 07:16 AM

                Tried out Simply Vietnamese 2 weeks ago and, aside from it being close to my house, I don't think I'll be back. The pho was decent (though not the best I've had- I prefer the Vietnam's) and strangely didn't include Holy Basil, a pho mainstay. Tried the pad thai and it was also ok, although I had a piece of chicken with unpalatable cartilage in it that really grossed me out. I was disappointed that the menu is more "southeast asian" rather than simply Vietnamese and the fact they took the amazing cripsy tofu entree they used to offer Saigon R had in the Englewood shop. Finally, I get the Tenafly is expensive, but this had to be the priciest Vietnamese food I've eaten. I'm ok with paying more, but i want more better.
                Hoping Mekong Grill will satisfy Bergen County's need for great Vietnamese and I will report back once I go.

                1. re: sixelagogo
                  menton1 Nov 28, 2010 09:32 AM

                  Hmmm. You must have had an off night. We have been several dozen times to the place since it opened 8 years ago in Englewood. The Pho is awesome, it is one of the few we've found that is steeped for a day and a half by KT (owner-chef) and the complex flavors of the anise broth shine through. I've had pho in several other places in NY and NJ and it doesn't approach this one.

                  Pad Thai? Hmmm. That's perhaps a "pan asian" addition to the menu, better had at a Thai restaurant. Yes, some of the dishes are "KT-ized" for the American palate and are not truly authentic, but most of the dishes are unique and have a wonderful creative touch as well as a unique blend of sauces and spices. My tried and true dishes there are the Pork Chops, the Basa Fish, Aromatic Duck, French Beefsteak Salad, and ... my absolute favorite, the New Zealand Mussels with wasabi-ginger. We've had many a wonderful meal at this place.

                  1. re: menton1
                    yogi70 Nov 28, 2010 10:30 AM

                    menton1 have you ever tried Mo Pho in fort lee? it is / was Saigon Rs sister restaurant. I enjoyed the pho there better than the englewood locale. want to try the new simply vietnamese in tenafly but been hearing some "so so" reviews on here and elsewhere.

                  2. re: sixelagogo
                    huiray May 15, 2011 06:27 PM

                    "...and strangely didn't include Holy Basil, a pho mainstay..."
                    Hmm, I didn't think Holy Basil was a mainstay of Phở ; what is usually served with it is húng quế (in Vietnamese) or 'horapha' (in Thai), otherwise usually known as "Thai Basil", with those reddish stems. It is a variety of Ocimum basilicum. Holy Basil would be "kraphao" in Thai, a variety of Ocimum tenuiflorum (or Ocimum sanctum).

                    Ngò gai (culantro)(not cilantro) would be a garnish that is also offered in the southern (Vietnam) variants of Phở and is sometimes taken by some folks as a mark of quality of the restaurant serving the Phở.

                    1. re: huiray
                      sixelagogo May 16, 2011 03:52 PM

                      my bad- only cilantro (not culantro)- and no basil (thail, holy, sweet or otherwise) on the plate. Never had pho w/o the basil except at this place.

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