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Instant Reaction: Mongo Mongo Mongolian BBQ

Mongo Mongo is the new Mongolian BBQ restaurant at the corner at 19th & J that soft opened a few weekends ago.

I had the opportunity to visit in its first full week in business and found a restaurant on the right track for success.


First, for those not familiar with the concept, at Mongolian BBQ restaurants, customers first fill a bowl with raw meats, vegetables, noodles and sauces and the "cook" at the end combines and prepares the ingredients you've selected over very hot large metal discs. Some variations of this restaurant concept are all you can eat, while others charge by the bowl.


Since the customer's the one selecting the ingredients and sauces, there's no real way to judge the outcome. But there is a way to evaluate the ingredients, and Mongo Mongo really shines.


They have a good selection of meats -- beef, chicken, lamb and pork. At most Mongolian BBQ restaurants, the meats are thinly sliced, frozen and rolled like a taquito. The resulting air in the middle of the meat means the restaurant will have to use less meat to fill a customer's bowl. When I visited, Mongo Mongo didn't do this. All of its meats were laid out flat so you could really get a fair amount into the bowl.

Mongo Mongo also branched out beyond Asian flavors for their sauces. In addition to the basics like soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and hot sauce, they provided pesto to give customers a different taste.

Clearly, though, they still have a ways to go before they get ready. They didn't have their liquor license yet and they were still working on their interior decoration, but as far as the food goes, they're ready to please.

Still to come is a late night menu for people who want a quick bite late at night without having to wait for their food to cook.

Mongo Mongo is open Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

All you can eat lunch on weekdays is $8, with dinners and weekends running $11. Kids are $8 and you can get one bowl of food to go for $8.

Mongo Mongo is located at the corner of 19th & J streets.

Note: Mongo Mongo comped me a to go order worth $8.

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