The trick to a good bowl of Mongolian grill


    Great Khan is big, clean, American-looking, and in Houston. Little Mom took me here. It’s an ideal place to get glutton and gain some weight, that probably was her intention for me. The idea is splendid: ~$8 for the first bowl, which includes a small bowl of meat, a small bowl of vegetables, rice or noodle of choice (or both), and an extra $2 for unlimited extra food if you’re still hungry. The “wok” masters gather at the big grilling platform in the middle (no wok), waiting for you to hand over what you think would constitute the best bowl of Mongolian grill. Confronted by rows of shining vegetables and meats and a dozen kinds of sauces, you’re tempted to pile and press as many different things as possible into the little bowls. Over the years, I’ve had my share of stirfries (a Mongolian grill is really a stirfry). To put it more bluntly, I’m Vietnamese, I know stirfries. Truth is, a good stirfry is a simple stirfry.

    0. The starch: choose thin rice vermicelli
    That stuff soaks up the sauce the best and meshes well with other things texturally. Thick noodle would be too bland and oily. Rice would be too crumbly.

    1. The meat: choose pork.
    If you’re vegan, don’t choose tofu. In my last post I claimed tofu was the coolest of the cools, but in a stirfry, the tofu can never soak in enough sauce for the life of it.
    Fish is a no-no.
    Chicken is too dry. Beef is too tough.
    Shrimp and squid: okay.
    If you don’t eat pork, you might as well be vegan.

    2. The vegetables: get pineapple.
    Pineapple isn’t a vegetable, but the point is it’s good. It’s the best thing in stirfries. I’d forsake the pork for the pineapple. Its tart sweetness enlivens the taste buds, its juice keeps the rice and the noodle moist, its acidity tenderizes the meat.
    Don’t get: broccoli (takes up too much room of your specious little bowls), waterchesnut, snap pea, carrot (too crunchy, discordant texture), mushroom (too chewy), beansprout (too long and stringy), tomato (pretty, but good for nothing)
    Do get: sweet onion, potato, garlic, bokchoy

    3. The sauce: choose anything with soy and garlic.
    A stirfry is no stirfry without garlic. Avoid the sweet and sour, it tastes artificial. If you got pineapple, you got the sweet-and-sour part covered.

    When our hostess brought the bowl, all steamy and tossed and glistering with flavors, I smirked in my head: meh, I’ll definitely have to go for seconds. But the seconds never got to see the light of day, because after one such serving I only had room for one thing: more grill, or dessert, and dessert won.


    4. Dessert: get the coconut sorbet with coconut shaving. It’s heaven in a coconut shell.

    Address: Great Khan Mongolian Grill
    2150 South Highway 6 #200
    Houston, TX 77077
    (281) 531-1122
    Lunch for three: $32.39

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