I received a complimentary dinner invite from the Mongolian Grill crew, who are smartly integrating social media to promote new menu items while offering a free appetizer on various blogs. (I included their offer in this post.)
Mongolian Grill was new to me. I’ve never heard of the place, not even in passing, so I took them up on the offer and invited my coworker downtown for lunch last week.
Although I live close I don’t visit Lower Downtown frequently, except for a few select spots that I enjoy: Club Beta, The Buenos Aires Pizzeria and a few dives north of 22nd. Most likely why Bd’s has never caught my attention.
Based on a quick scan of reviews I expected Bd’s Mongolian Grill to be an upscale quick serve place – modeling a Q’doba or Noodles. But it was much larger, with host provided seating rather than the 10 deep wraparound line. We told the two girls manning the podium we were going to have a drink and take our lunch back to the office, but they exchanged a weird look before realizing we were newbies. They explained the main dishes are raw, and the process requires that we select the meats ourselves and deliver it to the master chefs, who then grill it up on an enormous circular skillet. We wisely decided to take a table and stay.
We settled in and perused the bar full of raw chicken, beef, duck and pork. While I was impressed by the variety of meats there were plenty of vegetarian choices, including a very large salad bar opposite the meat station. You’d think buckets of raw meat would cause worry of contamination, (mostly by germaphobic parents,) but however they rotate it to keep it fresh worked. The common area was spotless and appeared far more inviting than my local Soup “R” Salad. (At least the one on Yale where the old guy drove his car through the window.)
To help those overwhelmed by the options some menu cards are available up on the wall. You grab one, assemble your various meats, veggies and spices per the card for a variety of different dishes. I didn’t notice these until later. I was excited over something new, plus was very hungry, so ended up overloading my plate with random meats, (I like duck) and vegetables, before adding noodles – half of which slithered off my bowl like a nest of garden snakes uncovered by a rock. I didn’t forget to include the chopped garlic in oil — for me a must.
Above: Celebrity sighting — the Smoke Monster from Lost.
We moved down to the highlight of Mongolian Grill: The stir-fry area where you hang out with other patrons watching your food get diced, tossed and stir fried by the cooks using ultra long skewers. This makes for a fun social atmosphere as you and strangers form a tiny little ampitheater while pointing and admiring their stir-fry craftsmanship. This part is interesting — and it’s not just a guy with tongs listlessly poking at some carrots, rather it’s an intense exercise among three talented chefs. If you want to see them in action check out this video from their site.
I ended up with much more food than I expected. Waiters make rounds for drinks, and also bring out rice and beans. We also ordered the wontons, but ended up bringing them back to the office.
I would go back, and not just because it was a complimentary meal. If you check my other post two regular readers gave it good marks as well. Upon return I’ll also craft a better constructed meal, which would be better than my mess of flavors pictured above.
I would also highly recommend them for a first date. See, like Rodizio Grill it’s semi themed dining where you’re figuring stuff out and doing things together. (Like pottery class but without the phalic shaped vases.) The events and action stimulates coversation. Then back at the table there’s no awkward silence because you now have a shared history and say “Wow that was amazing how he mixed in those spices.” A little less stiff than a fine restaurant’s small table under soft music.
They’re at 1620 Wazee in Denver. More info and other locations at gomongo.com It’s on the same block as the Wazee Supper Club, so you might be torn – but it’s a place in LoDo I really enjoyed.
And to wrap up a nice lunch we got back to the car with exactly one minute remaining.