Tucked away on the Post Road with a ‘slurping encouraged’ sign on the window, stands Fairfield’s new Mecha Noodle Bar. Wooden planks line the walls of this modern spot, while more flat boards of various lengths suspend from the ceiling, reminiscent of bamboo chopsticks. Funky square-shaped steel stools sit beneath long tables, all with a view of the bar.
This family-owned establishment (Opened by Restaurateur Tony Pham of Pho Vietnam in Danbury), offers authentic cuisine with a sophisticated spin. Think corn dumplings with thai basil butter, crispy kale salad with a miso vinaigrette, and the cleverly named KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) with gochujang, pickled turnips and a spicy kewpie mayo. Just to name a few.
Aside from menu’s column of ‘snacks’, ‘family meal’ plates and a few raw bar options is the main event: noodles. Whether indulging in their Vietnamese Pho or Japanese Ramen, you’ll be ready to curl up with this comfort food as we approach the cooler months.
The ramen options here are far more sophisticated (and palatable!) than your microwaved college-dorm meal in a styrofoam cup. Long, tender noodles (gluten-free available!) are served in an oversized bowl, swimming in flavorful spiced broth with combinations of chicken, pork, shellfish, tofu and vegetables. To enhance each already satisfying dish, you can choose from additional toppings such as egg, bamboo shoots and kae-dama, a system that offers you an extra serving of noodles when you’re running low. Major props to anyone who goes big with that request, as Mecha certainly doesn’t skimp on that part!
Although they do provide take-out, they recommend each plate be consumed within 5-7 minutes after it’s made–definitely worth a trip to taste it the way the chef intended. Even more reason to venture out? While you’re there, you can sip on one of their 13 craft beers, wines or specialty cocktails, perhaps dining al fresco if the weather allows it.
I enjoyed the vegetarian ramen with spicy miso-curry, tokyo straight noodles, avocado, wood ear mushrooms and tofu. Although the dish had a back palette of heat, I found it to be a bit sweeter than anticipated. Fortunately, a squeeze of the accompanied lime wedge added a balanced acidity, while my addition of chili oil gave it just the extra kick I was looking for. Thin, crunchy sheets of nori (also from the toppings list) added a nice texture, softening once they hit the hot broth.
The soup’s components were presented in sections, encouraging each to be tasted on its own before integrating them into one. Earthy mushrooms, fresh scallions and chewy chinese cabbage complimented the miso-curry broth, which was soaked up beautifully by the tofu. While avocado isn’t typically eaten warm, it worked well here, providing a creaminess that paired nicely with the hint of spice.
Hubby tried the red miso curry with roasted pork belly, scallions, mushrooms, chili oil and tokyo straight noodles. The pork infused a layer of smokiness into the rich chicken broth, providing a much more savory feel than the vegetarian option. The bold flavors were good to the last drop. Literally.
Before leaving, we were encouraged to comment in the guest book brought right to our table. This creative element was a memorable way to wrap up a lovely dining experience at Mecha, a place I will certainly return to again.
For more information on Mecha Noodle Bar, visit their website, www.mechanoodlebar.com.