When Good Call Sports Bar & Grill was evicted from its Hazelwood home at the end of December—the landlord lost the property—Portlanders lost not only a friendly place to watch the game but also Oregon's only Cambodian restaurant. So we were greatly relieved to learn Good Call owner Saron Khut was staying in the restaurant game.
When we visited Mekong Bistro, his recently opened restaurant and bar in a new strip mall across Northeast 82nd Avenue from Madison High School, on the edge of a former landfill long returned to meadow, the dining room was still under construction, but the bar was close enough to finished. Khut's sports fixation continues on several large TVs in the bar, though the only one with volume was playing Bizarre Foods.
The only hint of the bizarre on Mekong's 72-item menu are holdovers from Good Call—bacon-wrapped shrimp and surprisingly light avocado cheese puffs. There's plenty of Thai and Vietnamese as well, but stick to Khmer specialties. Our favorites are somlaw maju kreoung, a pea-green soup of watercress and beef floating in a kaffir- and tamarind-scented broth, and nyum, a delightful salad of shredded chicken, shrimp, glass noodles, cucumber, mint and basil leaves.
- Order this: Somlaw maju kreoung ($12), a better cure for the doldrums than even the best pho.
- Best deal: Nyum ($9) is yum.
- Iâll pass: Cha kreoung ($10), stir-fried beef with lemongrass, was bland.
EAT: Mekong Bistro, 8200 NE Siskiyou St., 265-8972. 11 am-2 am daily. $-$$.