Mekong restaurant is located in the rapidly growing Kensington Street Precinct with plenty of bars and restaurants nearby. The Indochine restaurant has two main sections: Lower Mekong featuring street food while the upper level called Mekong has a range of less casual, very prettily plated dishes and combinations. The chef Tiw Rakarin is formerly of Mama’s Buoi in Surry Hills and Alphabet St in Cronulla.
Dear Reader you may have previously read about our favourite hobby: escape rooms. Our dinner at Mekong in Chippendale was a reward for escaping from one (Paniq Room Supercell 117) with a mere two minutes to spare! Phew! Coincidentally we made our booking at Mekong at 8pm with two minutes to spare. We bypass the street food area called Lower Mekong and head up to the top of the stairs which is the restaurant Mekong. Upstairs is where you can book and while it looks similar in feel to the ground level eatery, the menus are quite different.
We are handed drink and food menus and the menu treads paths across Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia and Thailand. There are poems weaved between menu items and we get some suggestions from a lovely mermaid tressed waitress. Service is generally great by the wait staff although one staff member has a bit of an attitude. We end up hailing the very helpful waitress instead in a bid to avoid him.
While we decide they bring us some Dutch carrots. They're basted in chilli jam and then rolled in pork floss. The carrots are crunchy and I have to admit I've never had carrots rolled in pork floss before but it's very tasty.
Squid ink dumplings $12
These dumplings are absolute beauties: both presentation wise and taste wise. The dark black outer is squid ink rice flour and it is filled with crabmeat and prawn Thai stuffing. It comes with a divine broth where you just want to lift the bowl to your mouth and sip. This is a delicate and gorgeous start.
Indochine shareplate $22 (left) and Chefs shareplate $25
We look at ordering some of the share plates that are meant for two people. The waitress has a slightly concerned look on her face because there are four of us. "Don't worry we've shared sliders, we can do it," Louise reassures her.
Lao sour pork sausage
The Indochine shareplate has pieces of delicious lao sour pork sausage, sweetcorn harvest cups (Vietnamese rice flour cups with red bean, prawn, sweetcorn & cucumber relish ), little stack (Thai pineapple stack with smoked salmon and caramelised radish) and house made chicken and beef skewers.
Sweetcorn harvest cups
Grilled pork neck in betel leaves
They replaced the single prawn with extra grilled pork neck in betel leaves (although really we could have shared that). There's a really good range of textures and flavours on these and it is a good way to try lots of the entrees.
Grilled scallop salads
We also share the chef's shareplate with two fresh grilled scallop salads, more tender and deletable pieces of Thai grilled pork neck in betel leaf, little fish (a crispy Thai salad with caramelised anchovies, lime, lemongrass, chilli and peanuts )) and coco & chick (a central Burma street-style pancake with chickpea, tomato, coconut strips and fresh chilli and mango chutney).
Coco & chick
Like the platter above there's nothing we don't enjoy and the standouts are the coco and chick and the pork betel leaf but everything is tangy, pungent and spicy. Just what you'd want from Indochine cuisine.
A duck at sunrise $30
We all enjoy the crispy duck maryland confit served in a Thai red curry sauce with cherry tomato, basil oil and batons of pineapple. It was rich, flavoursome and creamy and a perfectly balanced dish.
Hanoi pipis $25
I adore Thai basil and this sweet, aromatic sauce made with house made chilli oil, garlic and basil is just made for spooning onto rice. There aren't a lot of pippies here, they're mostly bolstered with a bed of onion but what there is is tender and moreish.
Sweet lemon rumdul $28
I think the only dish of the evening that we didn't really love was this curry. It's a Cambodian beef rib curry with sweet potato and a lemongrass paste. While the beef was gorgeously tender it was very strong in shrimp paste which really overpowered it. When we commented on the half eaten dish the waiter was quite dismissive of it even though we'd clearly enjoyed the rest of the meal and everything else was empty.
Truffled garden $8
I'll admit I don't often expect a side to be a standout especially if it uses truffle oil but our waitress was very reliable with her recommendations and this was a beauty. Commercial truffle oil often doesn't contain any truffle and can often smell a bit gasoliney but this really tricked our noses and all I could think about was truffle. It's an unexpected ingredient with the grilled green cabbage and king trumpet mushrooms and the light, sweet sauce is so divinely fragrant I end up eating it by the spoonful once the vegetables are gone.
Bangkok Ice Cream Bowl $10
We go back to the helpful waitress who steers us towards the Bangkok ice cream bowl. She mentions that the lychee dessert always gets a lot of press but the Bangkok ice cream bowl is her pick. And she's right, it's fantastic. It reminds us of a coconut ice cream we've had on the streets of Bangkok yet it's so much better. The coconut ice cream is intensely coconutty but very smooth and creamy in texture and it is served with pomegranate, roasted peanuts, sticky rice and sweet palm seeds. And Louise and Viggo enjoy it so much they end up booking a table there for the next evening with her family.
So tell me Dear Reader, if there is an wait person with attitude, do you try and avoid them? And are you good at splitting food or do you find that too troublesome? And have you travelled to Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia or Thailand? Do you have a favourite destination of those?
Address: 2/14 Kensington St, Sydney NSW 2008
Phone: (02) 9282 9079
Open: 7 days 6–11pm, Thursday to Sunday 12–3:30pm