Saturday, January 21, 2012

Where to Eat: Mongolian BBQ at Gobi Mongolian BBQ

The Eats: Super healthy Mongolian BBQ              

Good for: Those moments when you want to stuff your face like a maniac and still know that what you just inhaled is good great for your body

The Vibes: Casual, chill, comfortable, quick

When to Go: Weekday Happy Hour, 5-7pm/
Wednesday & Saturday All-You-Can-Eat/
Thursday All-Day-Happy-Hour

Who to Bring: Casual dates, friends, the fam, kiddies who tend to scarf down ten plates worth of food since they’re growing and whatever

The $ Factor: Affordable ($10-$20), with a lot of discounts thrown in throughout the week

The 4-1-1: Jasmine rice, brown rice and tiger shrimp aren’t at the Mongolian BBQ station, but you can order them from your server

I’ll Be Back…: To try the draft beer floats. And for another Ginger Blossom cocktail. And of course for the food!

I’m not a Mongolian BBQ expert. My experiences have been limited to chain restaurants in mall food courts that dish out greasy, high-cholesterol meals. So when I was invited to check out Gobi Mongolian BBQ & Beer House, I felt somewhat of an obligation to the originators and true lovers of Mongolian BBQ to go. I couldn’t continue to bask in my dark ignorance of what this cuisine could potentially be. It would be like someone who’s only eaten at Panda Express swearing they hate all Chinese food. You gotta go for the real deal, right?

I found Gobi on Sunset Blvd. in a rather adorable establishment in Silver Lake. The slightly small,
one-room dining area had a minimalist yet cozy feel to it. Nondescript wooden tables and chairs towards the right and down the middle. Mongolian BBQ set-up to the left.

The food was similar to the setting: simply displayed and straight-to-the-point. The meats (pork, lamb, chicken, beef and tiger shrimp) are natural and antibiotic-free. The vast selection of veggies (broccoli, spinach, carrots and sooo much more) come directly from a local Farmer’s Market. There are even plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, and the sauces are all made in-house. During a brief stop at our table, co-owner Michael Buch explained his obsession with organic ingredients. He said that eating at tons of cheap Mongolian BBQ places as a kid growing up in LA, he loved the cuisine so much, but he wanted to open a Mongolian BBQ spot that was tasty and healthy.

So here’s how it works: Go to the Mongolian BBQ station and grab a bowl (or 2 or 3 or 4). Pick out the ingredients and sauces that you want mixed together. As tempting as it is to mix 15 items together, sometimes simplicity is better. I was politely informed that picking only 3-5 veggies and meats can go a long way. But, of course, it’s your personal preference. Here was my selection on one trip: veggies, noodles and tiger shrimp.

I handed my bowls over to one of the chefs who cooked it right in front of me. 

After about 5-8 minutes, voila, my Mongolian BBQ bowl was ready. 

The verdict? I loved how fresh everything tasted, and how many different sauces and flavors there are to try. The pressure to sample everything can be a little overwhelming, especially if you go on an All-You-Can-Eat-Night, but with the right amount of pacing and opting for small portion sizes, I'm convinced it can be done.

I also want to mention that there are other options, aside from the Mongolian BBQ. Not a lot, but a few, including appetizers like the Pan Seared Sesame-Crusted Ahi Tuna pictured below...

...and desserts like the Homemade Mini Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies with vanilla and espresso gelato smashed between two crunchy cookies (divine!). 

No hard liquors, but plenty of sake, soju-based cocktails, wines and beers (bottled and tap) 
as you can see from the picture below. 

So the next time you’re in the mood for some quick, filling, healthy and affordable Mongolian BBQ, 
I say check out Gobi. See you there soon! 

For more information:, @GobiSilverLake

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