Putting together a unique repast

Choices: Feasting during the time of Genghis Khan has evolved to become what is called Mongolian barbecue. Diners choose from an array of foods to create an interesting meal

Restaurant profile

October 11, 2001|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Mongolian barbecue was originated during Genghis Khan's advance westward during the Yuan Dynasty. After a victory on the battlefield, Genghis Khan's soldiers indulged themselves by eating large quantities of mutton and beef.

They broiled the meat on large shields, eating it in large pieces while drinking butter from large bowls. This method of feasting gradually developed into the popular Mongolian barbecue.

If you enjoy Mongolian barbecue, you don't have to go to Washington or Bethesda any longer: Columbia's Mongolian Grill opened just more than a year ago and offers everything you expect from a Mongolian barbecue.

"We offer a relaxed atmosphere and encourage folks to bring their children," says Robert Belli, assistant manager.

Here's how to put your dinner together at Mongolian Grill:

Choose from the vegetables, meats, oils, sauces and spices. Don't forget to put your table number on the little wood bowl tray.

Carry your mixture in a bowl to a bar surrounding a giant, sizzling grill, where cooks line up your dinner alongside everyone else's to cook. It usually takes about three to five minutes. You may watch or return to your table.

One of the waiters will bring your bowl, cooked and steaming, to your table.

One bar features a variety of vegetables, including onions, green peppers, broccoli, water chestnuts, shredded carrots, sweet corn, mushrooms, green and red cabbage, tofu, crushed pineapple, string beans, bamboo shoots, squash, bok choy and bean sprouts.

Choose your meat: steak, chicken, pork or lamb; or top your bowl with seafood (available during the dinner buffet only), such as shrimp, scallops, fish or calamari.

Next come the oils and sauces. Recipe cards are available if you need help, but it's more fun to make it yourself. For the semiadventurous, there are several sauces already mixed, including Manchurian Delight, Khan's Concoction, Horde's Triumph, Emperor's Choice and Warrior's Bowl. Other choices include teriyaki, soy, black bean, garlic and lemon and sesame, garlic and olive oil.

"If you're not sure how to make a tasty sauce, then try one of our pre-made sauces," Belli recommends. "More than half the sauces we offer are already mixed up. Then as you get an idea what you like, you can experiment a little more."

Top off your creation with sprinkles from the full spice rack, including fresh ground ginger, curry, fresh diced garlic, lemon pepper and mixed herbs.

Mongolian barbecue can be intimidating to those new to it. "We recommend starting with a small bowl - to see what you like," Belli says. "It's all you can eat, so you can keep going back for more."

The restaurant's Web site: http://www.themongoliangrill.com.

Mongolian Grill

Where: 8865 Stanford Blvd., Columbia; 410-290-0690.

Prices: $5.25 to $13.95 (dinner).

Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.

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