Steppin’ Out – Mongolian B-B-Q Restaurant

MongolianWhen we were in Cameron Park a couple of weeks ago, heading back from sampling the good food at ZacJack Bistro, we passed Mongolian B-B-Q, which is located at 3300 Coach Lane, in Burke Junction.

My friend, Russ Salazar, mentioned that he had eaten at a similar place in Sacramento and thought we should try this one. It had been several years since I had eaten there, so last week we drove down to Cameron Park to check them out.

We arrived about 11:30 on Thursday morning and found ourselves a table. The whole restaurant was very clean, but not very crowded.

Shortly thereafter a young gentleman brought us egg flower soup, rice, some crispy appetizers and a sweet dipping sauce. We ordered hot tea to complement the food.
Salazar’s first comment was, “This is good soup. Usually it is watery, but this is good.” I had to agree with him, it had a great flavor, unlike many.

After we had enjoyed our soup, we headed for the salad bar. Everything there: lettuce, celery, broccoli, peppers, sprouts, you name it, was crisp and fresh (killer fresh, Salazar said) and the tomatoes were excellent. There were only two dressings, ranch and Italian, so I mixed them a bit.

Next we got in line (people were beginning to show up for lunch) to make up our entree. If you have never been to a Mongolian barbecue, this is how it works.

You get a large bowl into which you can put noodles, an array of very fresh vegetables including: spinach, broccoli, sprouts, water chestnuts, celery, squash, mushrooms, two kinds of onions and more. Then you add your choice of meat.

The meat is frozen and very thinly sliced into curls. Your choices are: beef, pork, lamb or turkey. You can stick to one or mix them, it’s up to you.

Once your bowl is full you head for the minced garlic, peanuts and sauces (everything needs garlic).

The sauces include soy, kung pow, wine, ginger water and a whole lot more, including hot oil, which I would use sparingly, very sparingly.

They have posted recommended mixtures of sauces you can put together that they think are good, but everyone seems to want to experiment on their own.

Because the sauces are fairly low and protected by a glass “sneeze board” it is a bit difficult to dip them out and put them in your bowl without spilling some. They know that and have a folded towel there so you can wipe up your spills before anyone else sees what you did.

You then hand your bowl to the cook who is standing next an elevated hot plate that has to be at least three or four feet in diameter.

The cook takes your bowl and dumps it on the plate, adding a bit of water that he used to rinse out your bowl. Then, using two sticks he pushes it around the hot plate one or more times until it is cooked. At that time he cleverly slides it into a bowl and then hands it to you, hot and steamy. You take back to your table to enjoy with your rice.

I had all pork, but Salazar mixed pork and beef. He also added fresh jalapeños, which I had never tried before. He said the cooking process tamed them a bit so I tried a few. It did, but only slightly. However, as you know, I like hot food.

Mongolian B-B-Q Restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11 until 2:30 for lunch and from 4:30 until 9 for dinner. On Friday the lunch hours are the same, but dinner goes until 9:30. Saturday’s hours are lunch from 11:30 until 2:30 and dinner from 4:30 until 9.

For more information call (530) 677-3301.

Lunch was $8.95 plus drink and tax. Dinner is $10.95 plus drink and tax. At dinner you can eat all you want, while at lunch you can only go through the entree line once (all prices subject to change).

By the way, when Salazar opened his fortune cookie he handed the fortune to me and said, “This describes our lunch.” It said “The job is well done.”

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