Monday, July 11, 2011

Mekong Vietnamese Grill in Sellwood

I went to a new-ish Vietnamese restaurant the other day in Sellwood, which is a community located just south of Portland that borders the Willamette River. It's quite pretty down there, and the neighborhood is full of comfortable, established homes. It's a neighborhood I didn't personally know much about until last December, when I house-sat there for a week. I fell in love at that point, and I'm very lucky that I know someone who has a house there now, so I can spend more time exploring.

Anyway, Sellwood is home to many interesting restaurants, many of which I have yet to try. Last Thursday I spontaneously asked my boyfriend to join me for lunch, and we headed over to the main drag, where we found Mekong Grill. We both like pho, and the restaurant's menu had many options for my vegan and gluten-free needs, so I felt quite pleased with our choice.

I ordered the tofu salad rolls to start.

The waiter was quite accommodating when it came to my gluten-free needs. It's always a relief when you talk to someone who actually knows what gluten is and where it can be found. He steered me away from all the soy sauce-based sauces and dips, for which I was quite grateful. For example, I was unable to eat the peanut sauce shown above, but he offered me a different option instead.

Then, I ordered the vegetarian pho. All the phos at Mekong are gluten-free, but they do come with a gluten-filled Hoisen and chili sauce mix on the side, which I avoided.

I like pho, but I think I've been missing out. There's one restaurant in downtown Portland where I've had really great pho, but otherwise, the vegetarian broth I get is often watery and flavorless, leading me to add copious amounts of Sriracha, jalepenos, and basil. That's fine and all, and it certainly adds color and depth to the dish, but I do wish there was a really [flavorful] vegetarian pho option out there. When I glanced over at my boyfriend's bowl, his was dark and colorful, and he slurped up the very last sip.

Do you have any great homemade vegan pho recipes, or suggestions for restaurants that serve pho?

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