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This Pho Is The Real Thing – Mecha Noodle Bar

Soup is the ultimate winter comfort food, and Mecha Noodle Bar in Fairfield warms both body and soul with their big, bowls of South Asian noodle-y goodness.

Tucked into a storefront in Fairfield’s Brick Walk Plaza, Mecha is casual place with a bar where one can watch the chefs make magic and long tables for communal seating.  The high ceilings and walls are studded with wooden beams that add a decidedly modern, architechtural  feel to a space that could have easily gone gimicky with bamboo-and-Buddha inspired decor.  The crowd ranged from families with kids to university students – who apparently have moved up the culinary evolutionary ladder from the dehydrated slabs of MSG that were once a dorm room staple.

With ringside seats at the bar, we watched the chefs quite literally play with fire – precariously balancing pans over leaping flames – which made for a great show and an opportunity to peek at every dish coming out of the kitchen while sipping a delicious glass of Winter Sangria (red wine, pomegranite juice, apples, and a dash of cinnamon).  My companion, enjoyed a glass of freshly squeezed limeade which he equated to “key lime pie in a glass.”

After surveying the menu, we selected two appetizers – Saigon Egg Rolls and Red Oil Dumplings.  The Saigon Egg Rolls are nothing like their Chinese restaurant cousins – these are veggie free and stuffed with delicately seasoned pork in a rice paper wrapper and deep fried, they’re served with lettuce (for wrapping) and nuoc-mam, an amber colored dipping sauce made from fermented fish and salt – extremely tasty!  But it was the Red Oil Dumplings that we really fell for.  A blend of pork and shrimp bathed in a savory sauce of tangy Schezuan vinegar, fire-y red oil, and topped with cooling salad of cilantro and a smattering of sauteed shallots – we could have made a meal of these alone.

We were already getting full when our steaming bowls of ramen and pho arrived.  Deriving its super-porky flavor from, the stock in King Pho broth was rich, satisfying and studded with slabs of braised short ribs, veggies, and egg, all placed on a generous bed of rice noodles.  The Paitan Chicken boasted flavorful slices of chicken, slivers of fermented bamboo shoots, egg, and a tangle of ramen noodles and accented with a delicate sheet of nori.  Both the pho and ramen incorporated a nuanced balance bold and subtle flavor, texture, and traditional slurping goodness (please leave your table manners at home, slurping is part of the experience).

Chef/owner Tony  Pham (who also owns Pho Vietnam) stopped by to chat with us and check on our meal. The other staff is equally as friendly and accommodating.  He recommended their “BCCC” for dessert – a layered dessert featuring chocolate, cream cheese, and bacon.  While it was tasty (duh, it’s chocolate and bacon!), it wasn’t on par with the rest of our meal.

Mecha Noodle Bar nails the authentic South Asian genre in a fun, casual environment – you can bet we’ll be back.

Mecha Noodle Bar  1215 Post Road, Fairfield – No reservations, take-out available, but not recommended (fresh is best).

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