Mekong Plaza Food Court [Mesa]
Anybody spent any time in the food court down at Mekong Plaza? In particular, between My Tho and Hue Gourmet, you've got two less well-known regional Vietnamese places right next to each other, which is kind of a mini-bonanza of ethnic eatery interest.
At My Tho, I've had a couple bowls of bun, both a little rustic... big, chunky pieces of meat grilled to a char in places. The bo kho is notably unlike that I've had before, less clear, seemingly more viscous and almost a little grungier. I'm not sure that I don't prefer cleaner, more intense iterations, but is this typical of the region or just of this particular stand?
Hooray for nem bo! Over at Hue Gourmet, I love to nosh on those little packets of pickled beef with garlic and chiles are freaking addictive. And their bun bo hue is a little surprising to me, very light and oily and screaming of lemongrass, with shrimp paste served on the side for funk. The other versions I've had have all been considerably darker... is this lighter style more traditional?
My knowledge of the regional variations in Vietnamese dishes isn't up to snuff, but it makes me want to eat their menus to learn. Anybody with more detailed experience in a position to comment on if these places represent their regions well?
Thanks Dmnkly: I plan to cruise by especially for Hue Gourmet. From what I read on that other food site (Y something...) they do banh khot (aka "shrimp cupcakes". These are one of my all-time favorite Viet dishes (really more of an app).
Other shops in the food court sound good too. Hope all are still up and running...
The only thing that might stop me is it's supposed to be triple digits today and I don't do heat well... Don't even want to go to the "Great American Picnic". If you knew me, you would understand that this is totally aberrant behavior for me! Air conditioned room is only savior, don't even want to go to the pool...
Made it to Mekong Plaza this afternoon around 3:45 or so - specifically to try the banh khot at Hue Gourmet. Even though their menu says their hours are 9:00 am - 8:30 pm, at 3:15 or so they were closed and wouldn't reopen until 5:00.
The way we found out they were closed irritated my DH: 4-5 people were eating at one of the tables. I stood patiently at the counter for several minutes being ignored. Finally after time passed, one of the women at the table rather rudely said "we're closed until 5:00 pm". DH took offense at her tone and refused to consider a return visit at 5:00. He can be stubborn and couldn't understand why they just couldn't put up a "closed" sign.
So, being hungry, we wandered around the mini-mall and ended up at Com Tam Thuan Kieu.
We munched our way thru:
#12 Nem Nuong Nha Trang (fresh Nha Trang style charbroiled meatball rolls). The rice paper wrappers were on the leathery side but the flavors were good. Didn't see any evidence of charbroiling on the meatball rolls. $6.99/4 large rolls
#14 Banh Xeo (crepe stuffed with shrimp, pork, beansprouts & onion served with lettuce & fresh mint). This was $6.50 for what had to be one of the best I've had - loads of filling including thin slices of roast pork. The addition of a little red chili paste to this really made it sing.
They have a large menu of noodles of all kinds, broken rice plates, soups, porridges, banh hoi (vermicelli patties), smoothies, other drinks and desserts. Hours are 9:00 am - 9:00 pm 7 days a week.
As a plus - The young man who waited on us at Com Tam Thuan Kieu greated us with a smile and was very pleasant. Total including 2 Ca phe Sua Da came to $25 including a nice tip.
I really wanted the banh khot and maybe some of the other banh dishes but we were full and DH wouldn't go back to Hue Gourmet....
Com Tam Thuan Kieu
66 S. Dobson Rd., #141
Mesa AZ 85202
Yes, I've eaten better, but unfortunately there was no going back to Hue Gourmet.... Maybe next time.
We leave this morning so I'll have to satisfy my banh cravings at home in San Jose (CA). Our little Saigon district is pretty good-sized and I know of at least a few places for these dishes.
Seeing that this thread has been revived, I haven't had any success in eating at My Tho lately. It seems to be closed every time I visit the food court. There's still inventory behind the counter and no sign indicating a permanent closure, but when I called last week, the number was out of service. I'm assuming it has gone out of business until someone can confirm a recent meal there.