Along with the tickets to Puppetry of the Penis, I was also lucky enough to receive a $25 gift certificate to Mongolie Grill from Vue Weekly. I decided to take advantage of it before a chocolate tasting, and met Amanda for dinner at the Jasper & 109 Street location of the restaurant on Friday.
Greeted by what seemed like one of five hostesses on staff, I was quickly led to a table and seated. It was still early evening, so the restaurant wasn’t that busy, but I could see that business would pick up as the night wore on. The dining room was a typical Western interpretation of Asian style – dark wood and dim lighting reminiscent of OPM. As I waited for my sister to arrive, I read over the instructions on the menu on how to build-your-own meal. Provided bowls were to be filled with vegetables, meats and seafood, and sauce(s) of one’s choosing, with each plate including soup, rice, and wraps to complete the meal.
I was a tad weary of the service I might receive, after a warning from Mack that staff weren’t that attentive, but I found our waitress pleasant and quite competent at juggling a few tables. She took our orders for soup, gave us our bowls, then explained that after choosing our ingredients, we would have our creations weighed, stir-fried, then brought to our tables directly.
A plethora of options greeted us at the fresh food bar, all clearly labeled, with a fair number of sauces to choose from as well. To be economical, knowing how heavy comparable ingredients are would help (e.g. mushrooms are fairly light), but overall, I liked the do-it-yourself concept because it does allow for healthy eating and balanced portions. At the same time, if the end result is inedible, one only has him or herself to blame.
I loaded up my bowl with a variety of vegetables, thin slices of AAA beef tenderloin, and ladles of honey garlic, teriyaki and Thai chili sauces (a combination recommended by the attendant). My bowl ended up with a price of $14.65. My sister stacked up her bowl, drizzling it with only teriyaki sauce, and had her portion priced at $21.23.
When we returned to our seats, small bowls of soup and bamboo steamers containing wraps and rice were waiting for us on the table. My hot and sour soup was too spicy for me to discern flavour from it, but Amanda’s corn chowder was quite good and hearty to boot.
We actually weren’t even finished with our soups when our plates arrived. I thought Amanda’s serving looked better than my own, but mine actually tasted better, if not only because I included more sauce than she did. The peanuts and tofu were a definite plus, but the lack of baby corn and onion had me wishing that I had lingered longer at the food bar. Unfortunately, the beef was tough, but this was not unexpected given the fact that the cooks are asked to blindly stir fry whatever is in a bowl at the same time.
Without the gift certificate, I would have considered our dinner a rather pricey one. But still, if your party includes those that are particular about what they eat, Mongolie Grill provides a comfortable and efficient venue for dining.
Fresh food bar
My bowl before cooking
Amanda’s bowl being weighed
Steamers with rice and wraps (I loved how tall the water glasses were)