Mekong East 43-13 Bell Blvd (just north of Northern Blvd)
Unassuming, sparsely decorated little place, very inexpensive. A great addition to the neighborhood! Better than many Vietnamese places in NYC (I am spoiled by trips to Philadelphia and Minneapolis--NYC can't compare). Vietnamese owner. There is no relation to any other Mekong restaurant in NYC--it's just east of any other Mekongs, hence the name.
This food was excellent and I will be back to try the rest of the menu. You have to ask for extra spicy or everything will be very mild. Here is what we tried:
Calamari au buerre - fried pieces of squid (no tentacles) that somehow had a wonderful buttery flavor. Awesome lemon-black pepper dipping sauce.
Spring rolls - excellent, super crisp, with wood-ear fungus making them nice and earthy, served with mint and lettuce to wrap and nuoc mam to dip.
Banh Mi - the mixed meat/pate was quite nicely done. I have had better in Philly and many worse in NYC. There were several options for other meats.
Papaya salad - fresh and delcious, with bits of grilled steak added. Needs to be much spicier and it will be perfect.
Chicken-crab soup - killer broth as with all the soups here, this had lots of crab and thinly sliced asparagus. I haven't had this soup before and I loved it.
Beef pho - again the broth here is awesome and this is certainly the best pho east of Flushing--flavorwise I would have to do some head to head comparisons to determine which is best, this was really good broth. A bit unusual in that they garnish it for you rather than giving you a plate of fresh veg on the side. Not sure if there was any thai basil in there. Just brisket I think for the meat...there was also a chicken pho. So not as many chicoes as you usually see for your pho, would be nice to have tendon, tripe, etc.
Grilled pork chop - perfect yummy version, huge portion, with lettuce and pickled veg on the side.
Items I will return for (and I would repeat any of the items we tried): beef cubes (the classic dish); sour tamarind-based soup; summer rolls; chicken pho; various tilapia dishes
43-13 Bell Blvd, Queens, NY 11361