John Chiv/For the Times-StandardCreated: 08/15/2012 02:37:12 AM PDT
Mekong Café located at 307 2nd St. in Eureka will celebrate its fourth anniversary this December. They are starting their celebration a few months early by offering an updated menu starting this August and specials featuring Humboldt Grassfed Beef.
The name reflects cuisine which is typical of the region near the Mekong River. “We offer Thai food with a Laotian influence,” said owner Gina Sydathong.
She credits her husband John for opening Mekong since meeting him is what introduced her to the dishes offered. “The love for the food came first, the love for the man later,” said Sydathong.
John Sydathong's family opened the first Southeast Asian store in Humboldt in the late 1980s. They sold the business. John and Gina both worked at Cher-ae Heights Casino and fell in love. They owned Red Eye Espresso in Myrtletowne and wanted to offer food but it wasn't the right timing. After they sold the Red Eye, Gina was training to be a medical assistant but she loved cooking more and Mekong Café was the result.
Cultural pride and offering food similar to what they eat at home is one of the few things that sets Mekong apart, according to Nicole Williams, who has worked at Mekong for three years. The restaurant has daily specials, offering food customized to different spice levels; you can create your own version of Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup), and the vegetarian selections have vegetables different than those that areusually available at most Asian restaurants. Local support is very important to Gina. She uses tofu from The Tofu Shop, purchases produce as often as she can from the farmers market, and has started using Humboldt Grassfed Beef for her specials. You can get entire platters of items such as Whole Cornish Game Hen, Roasted Duck and the recently added Deep Fried Trout as a part of the regular menu.
The improved menu offers a lot of options which is familiar to patrons of Asian restaurants. Their Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles) is prepared as it is in the Chiang Mai region. Dishes on the menu are prepared with herbs grown by Gina so you get that fresh flavor.
They always have live music on Arts Alive. Call 707-269-0555 for more information.