Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Place You Should Eat // Mongo's Stirfry, Provo UT

Back when I lived in Idaho, one of my favorite places to eat was Mongolian Barbeque. I spent many-a-high-school-lunchtime and many-a-high-school-date there with friends. I am not exaggerating when I say that Mongolian Barbeque is a locus of friendship, of plenty, of exotic tastes and hearty servings.

And then I moved away from my beloved Eagle, Idaho and have lived sans Mongolian Barbeque ever since. A few years ago, on a particularly Mongolian-BBQ-starved day, I found one an hour or so south, in Springville. I went. It was bad. I vowed to never again eat any Mongolian but that served at that sweet sweet respite in home-sweet-Eagle.

Until this December. I'd hit a wall in my current writing project (analagous to this moment), and sought to drown said frustrations in food. I wanted stir fry. I wanted Mongolian. And then, in an act of divine inspiration, I remembered seeing a promo poster for a new Mongolian grill down the street. Could this be it? Could this be the Mongolian grill to fill the yearning years-long ache in my soul?

I am happy to report that yes, it is delicious. Yes, it filled my every noodley stirfry craving.

What is "it"? It is Mongo's Stirfry, in Provo. If you are in Utah, go there.

For those of you whose gastronomic voyages have never led you through the sweet, sweet waters of Mongolian Barbeque stirfry, let me explain: the whole thing is a buffet. It can be a little tricky navigating the ropes, so here are some tips for first timers.
  1. You pick a bowl size, 
  2. then walk down a long table of various raw vegetables, meats, roots, nuts, etc., piling everything and everything you want into your bowl. Pack it in tightly. Save the noodles for last (they can be piled high without falling off the bowl. The same cannot be said of pineapple pieces or carrot slices.). 
    1. First reason I love Mongo's: they have signs by the bowls encouraging you to pile the thing 4" above the rim of the bowl. Many other Mongolian BBQs frown upon such behavior.
  3. You then mix up your own concoction of sauces, from a spread of garlic, sesame oil, ginger, plus, lemon, orange, barbeque, teriyaki, curry, etc. 
    1. Second reason I love Mongo's: they give you separate bowls for the sauces. If you've ever tried to pour 8 ladles of sauce into an already stuffed and over-piled bowl of noodles and veggies, you know that it's only a matter of time before the whole bowl starts seeping over the rim with oily sauce.
    2. Getting the right mix of sauces is pretty important. After years of experimenting (10 years to be exact...what can I say, good things take time), I'd recommend the following sauce combination:
      1. 3 ladles House Sauce, 3 ladles BBQ Sauce, 1 ladle Sesame Oil, 1 ladle Sweet and Sour, 1-2 ladles Garlic
  4. Hand both the sauce and the noodle bowl to the chef. Before your very eyes, he throws them on the grill, cooks and cooks and cooks, and then, with a final flourish of his wooden wand (literal, not figurative), he whips the noodles into a fresh bowl. It's about I warn you, the fragrance alone, so exotic and complex, has been known to send grown men to their knees.

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