Across the street from Bloom’s Hotel, overlooked by the Molly Bloom mural, sits the Mongolian Barbeque restaurant. I had heard several rave reviews about this Asian gem in the heart of the city centre, which offers a more interactive experience for customers.
The first thing I noticed was the friendly staff. I was greeted at the door with a smile and I was immediately shown to a table. Although I went on a Tuesday afternoon (not the busiest time for a stir fry in Dublin city centre, I’d imagine), there was still a bit of a buzz about the place. The restaurant was in the heart of Temple Bar so there was a constant excitement on the cobblestone streets.
As I was shown to a table next to the Anglesea Street window, the smiley server explained how the process works. I had arrived before 7pm so I was able to avail of the early bird menu, which, on a student budget, was much appreciated. This early bird menu included an ‘All You Can Eat’ option for €14.90. The smiley server instructed me to fill a bowl with ingredients of my choice and bring them to the chef who would then grill them for me.
I grabbed a bowl, salivating as I looked at all the ingredients on offer. There were several types of noodles, a vast array of vegetables; onions, peppers, mushrooms and broccoli, then your choice of meats – chicken, beef and pork – as well as seafood. There was a blackboard over the counter with the instructions (in case I had forgotten what the server had told me, which I had) as well as recommended combinations and dishes. I decided to be a bit adventurous and concocted my own dish which consisted of fried noodles, onions, jalapenos, peppers and chicken.
On a low shelf on the back wall was a varied selection of herbs & spices, such as Cajun, teriyaki, and garlic, to add extra flavour to the stir fry. Next, was a sauce counter for the final touch. I went with some five spice and teriyaki sauce then brought my random assortment of ingredients to the chef who grilled the grub in front of me. This adds a fun and interactive element to the process of eating out. Making awkward eye contact with the chef as he mixed the ingredients on a massive semi-circular grill with gigantic chopsticks was a new experience for me.
After a summer working as a cook, I had fate in my ability to choose the right ingredients to make a tasty dish. However, my only duties had involved rolling out dough for pizzas which was no help to me in a Mongolian buffet-style restaurant. It’s no surprise, that the end result tasted a bit odd. My choice of ingredients didn’t really work together. I wouldn’t put the blame on the food itself as the quality was close to perfect, but I would recommend taking the tips on the blackboard into account when choosing the food.
The variety of food, spices and sauces was brilliant and there was an infinite number of combinations, but again, I would be cautious about being overly ambitious with your choices. If you’re unsure, stick to the recommended dishes. There are options catering for those with dietary restrictions, but all the food was cooked on the same grill which meant there was a possibility of cross-contamination. The sauces seemed slightly diluted meaning that a generous serving is required in order to avoid the meal tasting a bit bland.
The concept that you choose every ingredient and watch as it is cooked before you very eyes is interesting. One bowl would be enough for most. Personally, there was no need to pay for the ‘All You Can You Eat’ option. That being said, it is very affordable. I plan on returning and next time I will be sure to get the perfect stir fry.
Image Credit: Ireland Restaurants