On a typical night, New Haven’s new noodle bar, Mecha, is packed with people filling their stomachs with Asian comfort food. The space buzzes with laughter and conversations radiating out from long communal tables. Hip-Hop rhythms thud energetically in the background. Mecha, pronounced “MAY-CHA” means “Mom & Pop” in Vietnamese, reflecting the joyful, familial environment.
Chew Haven got a chance to speak with Darryl, Mecha New Haven’s General Manager, to hear about the noodle bar’s recent opening and future plans. Aside from delicious lunches and dinners of noodle bowls and boba tea, Mecha also features a happy hour from 3 to 6 pm with $3 Baos and $2 draft beers. Darryl also mentioned they are hoping to begin serving late night, with communal board games and delicious cocktails. All in all, Mecha has the potential to become a regular social scene for New Havenites.
The real reason to come to Mecha, however, is for the food. There is all too much to recommend — but we will give a shot at narrowing it down. We started our meal with some baos, soft pillow-like buns filled with your choice of flavor-packed fillings. All of the options are delicious, but we especially liked the Pork Belly and Korean Fried Chicken (the best KFC) Baos. For vegetarians, the Shiitake Baos were also mouthwatering-ly good.
Mecha’s list of appetizers, or “snacks,” is overwhelming. There is simply too much to choose from. We sampled the Red Oil Dumplings and Kimchi Fried Rice. These dumplings are nothing like your run-of-the-mill potstickers. Instead, they are simultaneously spicy, salty, and sweet, with a crisp outer shell and juicy center. The flavors are complex; Chew Haven especially enjoyed the crispy shallots that come atop the dumplings, adding character to the entire dish. The kimchi fried rice was also incredible, providing a similarly abundant mix of flavors with the richness of an egg atop the sour and spiciness of Korean kimchi. Together with the Korean Fried Chicken, this dish displays Mecha’s ability to present some of the Asian continent’s most delicious and comforting dishes.
And then there are the noodles. Chew Haven was slightly hesitant to see that Mecha’s menu presented both Vietnamese pho and Japanese ramen, but we are delighted to say that both dishes and cuisines were executed impeccably. For those seeking a big bowl of noodles with a lighter broth, the pho is for you. Mecha’s Vietnamese pho features a clear broth made from chicken and beef, thin rice noodles, and your choice of beef, chicken, meatballs, and some other Vietnamese classics. Darryl recommended the Pho Bo Vien, and since then, Chew Haven has gone back to Mecha to order the Pho Bo Vien again. We highly recommend. For those seeking a rich, warm broth, the ramen is for you. Mecha’s Japanese ramen features your choice of pork, chicken, or miso broth, wheat noodles, with a large selection of toppings. We recommend the Spicy Miso Ramen, although it is not for those who don’t enjoy a little spice in their lives. A few of the ramens come with eggs, which are perfectly soft-boiled and delectably flavorful.Not to miss at Mecha are the cocktails, crafted by state-of-the-art mixologists. We tried them all and recommend them all. The alcohol-infused boba teas are particularly fun.
Although New Haven has a handful of Asian restaurants and noodle places, Mecha is filling an aching gap in the New Haven food scene. For some, it is the necessary staple of late night, soul-hugging ramen. For others, it is the single restaurant offering a smorgasbord of some of Asia’s best dishes. Whether you are cold, tired, emotionally drained from the fallout of the Presidential election, or simply hungry, seek warmth at Mecha Noodle Bar. There is often a line, but it moves quickly and is well worth the wait.