One of my favorite places for Vietnamese food in the Triangle is Mekong, in Morrisville, NC. They specialize in authentic Southern Vietnamese cuisine. It is a casual & inexpensive restaurant with great food and service. On this occasion, I opted for the pho, (noodle soup), as it has been quite cold lately here in the Triangle. What else are you gonna eat? Hot soup is perfect on days like these.
I got the “Combination” pho, which contains several meats: well done beef, rare beef, meatball, & tendon. The delicious broth has a nice mild flavor. At times when I eat pho, I pass on adding any hoisin sauce to it, as I find the broth on its own, to be ideal. But that’s a personal preference.
In the broth, besides the meats, are noodles, & chopped scallions. On the side with your soup you’ll get a plate of fresh basil leaves, fresh bean sprouts, a few pieces of sliced jalapeño, a wedge of lime, and some fresh cilantro.
My dear friend Tessa Nguyen of Taste Nutrition Consulting, had introduced me to Mekong about a year ago. I’ve had pho before but never like this. For example, I’ve never eaten tendon before and the Combination pho has tendon in it. It was a nice introduction and a great way to discover something new. Tendon if you’re new to it, looks like the fat of meat, and I gotta say, the first time I saw it in my bowl I thought that it’s probably not meant to be eaten, but is just there to add flavor to the broth. But actually, tendon is not fat, in fact there’s very little fat in it. Tendon is collagen tissue, which connects muscle to bone. When cooked for a long period of time, it gets very soft but still has a firm consistency. It’s worth trying if you’re curious. If you end up not liking it, it’s no loss as you can just remove the few pieces from your bowl and eat the rest of the pho.
Not only is the pho at Mekong delicious, but the vermicelli dishes are great too, as are their appetizers. There are plenty of options and they even offer chicken broth in place of beef broth if you prefer a lighter tasting soup. I saw vegeterian options on their menu but no vegan options for anyone curious about that. However, these days it seems most restaurants will create something vegan for you upon request even if they don't list options on the menu.
So if you’re looking for a delicious, casual-style Vietnamese restaurant, add this to your list.