Are you a California transport craving food-truck style baos? A freezing Yale student dying for a hot bowl of ramen (if you aren't yet freezing, you will be in about a month)? A foodie looking to expand your palate without breaking the bank?
Regardless, Mecha Noodle Bar has you covered. Mecha offers a range of Asian cuisines, from Vietnamese pho to Japanese ramen to Chinese baos and a whole lot in between. The food is NYC-quality, the menu is reasonably priced and servers treat you like family. Is there really more you could ask for? Oh yeah, killer cocktails -- which they also have.
Mecha has an extensive bar featuring craft cocktails and several sake options. Our favorite cocktail was the "Love Potion No. 9" (shown above). This sweet and refreshing lychee-lime cocktail is made with shochu, a sake-style Japanese liquor.
Speaking of sake, Mecha makes sake an experience. The sakes are served in cedar boxes to bring out each sake's unique flavors. The bartender hand-picked this sake, "The Way of the Warrior," to pair with our meal. Anyone who invests this much care in my alcohol experience has my heart forever.
Typical Japanese starter: edamame. Not typical Japanese starter: herbed edamame with garlic, sage and rosemary. This was next level-- WAY above and beyond the basic salted edamame of your average sushi joint.
I must have missed the memo that every restaurant is required to have kale on the menu, but I'm glad Mecha got it because their Kale Salad is the best I've had in New Haven. Better yet, the croutons are KALE CHIPS. Kale-ception.
The Small Plates
Calling starters and small plates two different things is just an excuse to eat more food, like these Red Oil Dumplings -- pan-fried pork and shrimp dumplings in a dish of Sichuan oil and vinegar. They packed the perfect amount of heat: spicy without masking the other important flavors of the dumplings.
Mecha also offers a vegan twist on the traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwich-- the Cauliflower Banh Mi. This sandwich is not just for plant lovers; vegans and meat-eaters alike can get around this banging sandwich.
A bao is a Chinese steamed, bread-like bun filled with meats or veggies. Mecha has four kinds of baos on the menu, including a vegan option filled with shiitake mushrooms. Our favorite was the very un-vegan Pork Belly (shown above). It reminded me of the char siu bao (BBQ pork buns) of my home land (San Francisco).
Mecha also let us sample a new bao not yet on the menu (#SpoonPerks). The Shrimp Cake Bao is like an Asian seafood slider, complete with Mecha's house-made umami mayo. Needless to say, we can't wait for it to grace the menu.
Mecha offers two kinds of noodle soups: Vietnamese pho and Japanese ramen. Mecha's ramen broth takes 6 hours to make and you can taste the difference. The Paitan Chicken Ramen (above) is paired with chicken breast, nori, a hardy broth and endless ramen noodles (aka the ramen of college kids' dreams).
Pho is made with a thinner broth cooked for 24 hours and rice noodles, then topped with bean sprouts, Thai basil and lime. Our favorite was the beef short rib Pho King (shown above). The meat was tender and delicious, and it paired especially well with the tangy lime squeeze on top.
The Bubble Tea
Mecha also offers Taiwanese bubble tea (aka boba). The "Temple of the Sun" is made with tea, pineapple purée and fresh passion fruit juice. Looking for something ~stronger~? Try the alcoholic option made with tequila and mescal.
They also have more traditional bubble teas: Thai iced tea (made with black tea and cream), "Lucky Peach" (a classic peach milk tea) and the off-menu Vietnamese coffee (strong brewed coffee with milk).
So, next time you are looking for a unique and insanely delicious Asian meal, check out Mecha for an incredible food and dining experience. You will leave with a happy heart and a very full stomach, we promise.