The Unvegan

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One Plate at Gobi Mongolian BBQ

A beautiful painting or a pile of meat?

For a while now, I have been a devout member of Blackboard Eats, an email list that sends out some cool deals for restaurants like 30% off, a free dessert, a free bottle of wine, etc. One deal they sent out recently, though, caught my eye. It was 30% off for a place called Gobi Mongolian BBQ in Silver Lake. I’ve always loved me some Mongolian BBQ because you get to decide everything you want in your food, so if you don’t want any vegetables like a smart little unvegan, you don;t have to pick up any. Plus, they are all-you-can-eat; a big bonus for this guy. Or are they?

This is a man’s bowl.

When I arrived at the place, I finally took a look at my discount printout and saw that this was no buffet-style BBQ. I was shocked, appalled and mostly disappointed. I was under the impression that all of these Mongolian BBQs were all-you-can-eat, but LA’s East Side had ruined this for me. I took it in stride, though. Perhaps the food would be that good and at least I was only paying 2/3 of the full price. I walked up to the counter full of food choices and took the plunge.

Look! Bread!

The first thing I loaded up on was meat. I filled the bowl all the way to the brim with their rib-eye, then smooshed it down to make room for more rib-eye and a little bit of chicken. Since the meat was frozen and in rolls, I knew it would cook down real small. I walked briskly past the vegetables and made a brief stop at the water chestnuts before moving on to their sauces. I dropped a few ladles of their green curry into my bowl, then a ladle of their spicy chili sauce, Asian BBQ sauce and their Asian pesto. Lastly I dolloped out some of their garlic and ginger, before loading a half-ton of noodles onto my bowl. The ingredients for my unvegan stir-fry could hardly be contained within my bowl and I knew that this was going to be a good night for food.

The finished product.

I handed the cook my bowl and he tossed my food onto the mega-griddle. I watched as the meat cooked down and my meal became a beautiful brown stir-fry of perfection. When all was done cooking, I was handed one pretty awesome meal. I poured a few sesame seeds on it for effect, then brought it back to the table for ingestion. I dug in and it was just as I had hoped…meaty, spicy and fantastic. One of my biggest fears for a meal like this was that I had only one shot to get the perfect ingredients. At most Mongolian BBQs, if you muck up a dish, you can always try again, so I was happy that my fears hadn’t come true. Even if I had a second shot at this, I’m not sure I could have come up with a better meal.

Midway through my dish, though, I spotted something that didn’t belong. It was orange and carrot-like. Oh no, a carrot! How could this be? It must have slipped into my food from someone else’s on the griddle. For shame, Gobi! You are tasked with so little as far as cooking goes and you couldn’t keep my food segregated? Terrible, but at least the carrot was found before it had entered my mouth or else there would have been hell to pay.

Before I finished my meal, I was full and ready to take half of it home. I suppose my plan to load up on meat succeeded and I had no need for another round, although it would have been nice to not have to load up on the first attempt and give myself the option of trying out new things. Oh well, if I want Mongolian BBQ like that, I will have to look elsewhere.