Hidden three storefronts behind the most popular restaurant for Alumni and Family Weekend, Molto, lies one of Fairfield County’s best kept secrets: Mecha Noodle Bar. The original restaurant, Pho Vietnam, is located in Danbury, and after an explosion in popularity, the owner decided to build a second location in Fairfield.
I heard of Mecha’s existence months earlier and scoffed at the idea of a restaurant whose main attraction is well-dressed Ramen noodles, but as a result of constant pestering by my roommates, I gave it a chance.
I am glad I did.
What originally got me through the door was the low cost of the noodles: average $10 for a bowl of gourmet Ramen and $12 for a bowl of Pho, a Vietnamese soup typically consisting of broth, thin noodles, herbs and meat.
Upon entering the small establishment that seats roughly 30 people, I was struck by the interior design: varnished 2X4’s hung over the heads of the patrons like stalactites in a cave. These same 2X4’s expanded over three walls of the restaurant, thus protecting the patrons from the drab, white paint job that is seen on the front wall.
Inside the intimate restaurant there is a long table that seats most of the restaurant’s customers next to a small counter that looks into the open kitchen. Chalkboards dangle over the opening to the kitchen indicating the drink specials: “Love Potion N.9,” “Moonshine Bomb,” “Voodoo Priest” and “99 Problems.”
My friend and I were seated at the end of the lengthy table and given menus that are pasted onto an 8 ½” by 11” mat of woven bamboo sticks – an elegant touch. We each ordered a bowl of Pho, my bowl being braised beef and my friend’s bowl being chicken.
My Pho dashed all the preconceived notions that I created. The broth was perfectly salted, rich and layered nicely with cilantro, scallions and onions. I wanted to suck it down with a straw, but I didn’t have the courage to ask for one.
One of the best parts about ordering either the Ramen or the Pho is that it takes a while to eat. It cools slowly and since it cannot be gobbled down in three bites, it put me in a place where the conversation with my friend became more important than the food I was eating. Simply put, it is the ideal place for a first date.
When the waitress served us the check, they put it inside a pocket-sized notebook. Earlier customers doodled and wrote all over it and I personally scribbled a sketch of a dragon. Needless to say, it was a cute way to end the meal.
Let me answer the three questions on the forefront of everyone’s mind:
Would I go to Mecha Noodle Bar again? Absolutely. Have I gone there two times in one week? Most definitely. Does Mecha Noodle Bar get five stars? Without a doubt.