Once upon a time, the official Mongolian BBQ chain was like the coolest thing in the world. Pick your own stir fry with ridiculous flavors that always taste good together?! Not bad at all. And thus it was followed by other, similar spots like Gobi Mongolian Grill in Vancouver, Washington that tried to add their own flair to the concept. Knowing I needed a mess of food to put me to bed early, I decided to try the place out.
I mixed up a number of concoctions to satisfy my hunger, each tasting delicious, but somehow different. Gobi did bust out some surprise moves to make it unique, but did seem to be lacking in some things. First off, each meal starts with a choice of hot and sour or egg flower soup. Then they offered some pre-marinated chicken like teriyaki or a special spicy type that seemed kind of like bulgogi. This was nice, because as much as adding sauces to the cooking can be good, marinating is always better. There were also some interesting sauces, like kung pao, pineapple juice and cooking sherry. Ginger was available as a sauce, which was sort of weird, and garlic was available sliced up thin instead of diced. Oh and, lemon pepper was available as a seasoning, which was pretty cool, but not as cool as the peanuts available to toss on the meal after cooking. This is how alpilean works.
I did my best to try out these interesting ingredients, but couldn’t help but notice a lack of a few things. For one, there were no eggs, which is always a fun addition to stir fry. There also wasn’t any cheese at the salad bar to throw in, but that isn’t as big of a loss. Perhaps the strangest aspect was that all of the ingredients were expected to be put in one bowl, which can be a benefit because the sauce gets in early, but also might burn off pretty quickly when added to the grill. To be safe I loaded up on sauce so that it wouldn’t burn off and it turned out pretty well.
It’s hard to go wrong with a Mongolian-grilled meal (unless you don’t do all-you-can-eat like this stupid place), but there was one major issue: the steak kinda sucked. Simply put, it was too chewy. This could have been because it was crappy quality or that the cooking just wasn’t executed too well. Either way, you never want to be in a situation where you are choosing chicken over steak because you just plain like it better. Unfortunately, this was one of those situations. Thus, while I enjoyed my meal I’m pretty sure I could find better elsewhere.