Review: Mongo’s Grill – Meridian, Idaho

Jan 19, 2013 by     6 Comments    Posted under: Boise, Idaho, Restaurants, Reviews
Mongo's Grill

Mongo's Grill

Finally! I’ve been waiting for a decent Mongolian BBQ place to open up in the Boise area since I moved here 6 years ago. Everything offered in town has always been so lame, dirty, and not very good. It’s been very frustrating. But that all changed this week when I pulled into the new Mongo’s Grill next to Famous Dave’s on Eagle Rd in Meridian. Halle-freakin-lujah!

Mongo’s Grill is worlds apart from the other Mongolian barbecue joints in the Boise area. The decor is upbeat and professional, with a bit of a P.F. Chang’s feel to it. The staff are professional and attentive. And the actual grill is larger than any I’ve seen before and is a beautiful stainless steel, looking much like a small UFO. Even the traditional wooden rods used to cook with are updated and replaced with a really cool looking stainless steel version. I was sold before I even got to the food. But the food is what really brings Mongo’s to the 10th level.

Mongo’s Grill Has an Incredible Selection of Vegetables, Meats, Seafood and Noodles

Mongo's Grill Bowls and Toppings Counters

Mongo's Grill Bowls and Toppings Counters

Being my first time at Mongo’s Grill, my server offered to give a tour and tell me how things were done. I was blown away with the selection of things to choose from. There were two full tables of vegetables to choose from: snow peas, snap peas, green beans, red peppers, yellow peppers, cabbages, peas, edamame, bamboo, water chestnuts, black beans, garbanzo beans, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, bean sprouts, cilantro, bok choy, asparagus, onions, green onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and more. It was amazing! I’m a veggie guy anyway, so this was really exciting.

But the options didn’t end there. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got to the protein table. There were the standard frozen and shaved beef, chicken, and pork, as well as cubed tofu; with the unexpected additions of turkey, ham, and even pepperoni. But the real surprise came from all the seafood. During lunch, there was salmon, tilapia, and calamari. During dinner, there were the additions of mahi mahi, scallops, and shrimp. Tell me, where else can you get a selection like that? Happy happy joy joy!

And if that wasn’t enough, Mongo’s also offers up 5 different noodles to choose from. They offer the standard yakisoba type noodles, but also have wide rice noodles (think pad thai), delicious thick Shanghai noodles, and then penne pasta and rigatoni pasta. I thought the two Italian pastas were a little odd until I got to the sauce counter.

Mongo's Grill Noodles

Mongo's Grill Noodles

 

Mongo’s Grill Sauces are Diverse and Tasty

Mongo's Grill Sauces

Mongo's Grill Sauces

With my heaping bowl of veggies, chicken, fish, and Shanghai noodles, I was ready to sauce. The secret to any good Mongolian barbeque is the sauce, but Mongo’s takes things further than the rest. They have the standard ginger, garlic, Mongolian, hot oil, sesame oil, sweet and sour, and curry sauces. But they also introduce the following: stir fry sauce; Khan’s favorite sauce; kung pao; BBQ; black bean; honey mustard; orange pineapple; lemon; red wine; spicy szechuan; sweet chili garlic; teriyaki; soy sauce; Thai peanut; and tomato basil. What the heck? It was a cook’s dream to sauce the hell out of things with a perfect blend of whatever I felt like. The sauces also tasted great. My favorites were the orange pineapple, Mongolian, stir fry, and Khan’s favorite.

But what was up with that tomato basil and the Italian pastas? It turns out that Mongo’s Grill also offers a hot cheese sauce (not very good and very bland) and hot Alfredo sauce. For those of you that don’t want Asian deliciousness, you can still enjoy an outing with friends and have some chicken alfredo over penne, or maybe some pepperoni and olives with tomato basil marinara over rigatoni. Sky’s the limit. Enjoy.

Mongo’s Grill Spice Counter

Mongo's Grill Seasonings

Mongo's Grill Seasonings

After the sauce orgy, you take your bowl over to the grill to get it cooked. But before you hand it over to the cooks, there is a spice counter to add even more flavor to your meal. With 13 different spices and seasoning salts to choose from, you’re sure to find a flavor you’ll love to add to your sauce bowl of deliciousness. Personally, I loved the Thai Seasoning, but maybe you’re more of a curry person, or maybe you want some fajita seasoning to go with your chicken and beef. Whatever you’re out to accomplish, you’re sure to have a good experience at Mongo’s Grill.

Would you Like an Egg with That?

Mongo's Grill Side Options

Mongo's Grill Side Options

When you hand the cooks your bowl, they ask if you would like an egg with it, if you would like it all put into a wrap, or if you would like some tortillas. Cool. I accepted the egg, which went perfect with my Southwest Asian flavors. I guess the tortillas would be great if you decided to make chicken and beef fajitas with onions, peppers, cilantro, and black beans, all sprinkled with a little fajita seasoning at the spice counter. Choices galore at Mongo’s.

Mongo’s Grill Boise has a Soup and Salad Bar

Included with your meal is Mongo’s soup and salad bar. How nice to offer this. The salad options were extensive, and all very fresh. The soup options consisted of two soups, rotating daily between lunch and dinner. I had the Wicken Chicken Thai Soup, which was a red curry coconut lime chicken soup with rice. Damn that was some good soup. Wicked and delightfully evil.

Mongo's Grill Wicked Chicken Thai Soup

Mongo's Grill Wicked Chicken Thai Soup

All You Can Eat at Mongo’s Grill

Mongo’s is $9 for lunch, putting it about $2 more than other Mongolian options, but everything is included, and they encourage you to go through more than once. The secret to success at Mongo’s is to make your bowls small, and have more than one. By keeping the bowls small, you get a better ratio of sauce to food, which provides a better tasting more flavorful bowl. It also leaves room to have a cup of their delicious soup, and maybe even some peaches and cottage cheese from the salad bar. This place rocks, and is hands down the best Mongolian Barbeque joint in all of Boise. It is a small chain restaurant, with franchises in Minnesota and Canada. I’m very grateful someone brought it here, and I’ll be eating here for lunch regularly.

Mongo's Grill Healthy Mongolian

Mongo's Grill Healthy Mongolian

Mongo's Grill Beef and Noodles

Mongo's Grill Beef and Noodles

Mongo's Grill on Urbanspoon

 

The Bald Gourmet finds the best Mongolian Barbeque in Boise and eats himself silly.

 

6 Comments + Add Comment

  • I have had both good and bad experiences at Mongo’s. When they first opened I was thrilled at the concept of what they intended to present to customers. I had hoped that it would be similar to Crazy Fire Mongolian Grill in North Carolina. I have never found another to compare to Crazy Fire. But I found Mongo’s was too similar to other grills in Idaho. The difference between Mongo’s and Crazy’s is freshness. All meat at Crazy Fire is FRESH. With chicken you have a choice between dark meat and white meat. Meat pieces are chunked so they give depth to the flavors they absorb. My biggest disappointment was what I found best at Crazy. At Crazy Fire you can have your rice cooked on the grill and mixed in with the flavors of your sauces instead of noodles. I have asked Mongo’s to do this and they will not. Also, at Crazy, no hands ever touch the food–including the eggs. Eggs are lifted, cracked, and opened with the cooking sticks. If they need to add liquid to dry dishes, they add sauce–not water. I, too, have had the watered down cooking at Mongo’s. Especially if I use Thai noodles–of which the cook will loudly complain about how much he hates them because they stick to the grill. With the multitude of eatery choices on Eagle Road, I find I go to Mongo’s less and less. Just ate there tonight. Again, the meal was watered down, and the cook complained of the noodles. One cook rolled the eggs across the grill to the other cook who then just dropped them onto the grill to break them open. The egg shells (which had been touched by at least two different people) fell into the ingredients that were already cooking on the grill. :-(

  • My biggest complaint,The salad bar, the y have the dressings in the buckets with a ladle, which is fine. When I look for the Blue Cheese, im shocked to see it in packets! The waitress (When she was around) says they didn’t have hen they opened until customers started to complain, She then says they are looking for a provider, I said oh, when did you open? She says, like 7 months ago, um what! and your still looking for a provider? Redicules and my glass should never be empty. coming from the food industry this was major letdown. You never let a customers glass get empty. And you dont serve dressing in a packet, going on 7 months now

    • That is a disappointment, Jason. Hopefully they will correct the dressing issue soon.

      I’ve also noticed that sometimes the cooks use too much water when cooking, which ends up diluting the flavors of my carefully selected sauces. This results in a bland plate of food when it otherwise would be full of flavor. One cook in particular seems to be more guilty of this than the others.

  • Keep an eye on the cooks. My first bowl was seafood, veggies and noodles and was cooked to perfection. The next bowl I combined Chicken/Pork/Beef and the cook cooked it forever, squirting water on it at least 7 times. The result was over cooked strips of meat, limp veggies and the sauce and oil flavors evaporated up into the vent. It tasted like plain noodles and chewing the meat was like leather. I recall the other Mongolian grills in Ada county separating the meat from noodles and veggies and making sure they sear cook rather than steam cook. I will request next time I visit or maybe just avoid the meats and stick to the seafood.

    • Funny, I recently had the exact same experience, Mark. I’m suspicious that we had the same cook!

  • I went there after reading your review and I was happy with what I found. This is not the traditional “Mongolian” BBQ style place. similar cooking technique but with much better and higher quality ingredients.

    I also liked their cooking style much better. At the traditional Mong BBQ the cooks drag your food around the circular grill. This means that if the guy right before you has a bunch of curry sauce in his dish then your food will have it too as your dinner will be dragged along the same path on the grill. At Mongo’s the food was cooked in one spot so all the flavors in the dish was by your choice.

    I loved stacking the grill with mostly veggies and some tofu for protein and then dumping my grilled food on the small bowl of steamed rice that they give you if you ask for it.

    Small but tasty salad bar. The serving bowls are small but since they are all you can eat it makes sense to keep the bowls small. Less waste and there are no to-go boxes. You eat what you have cooked.

    I think with a drink it was $12 or so. Much better experience and quality than what was in the area before this one arrived. I was initially worried that we would end up with nothing new. However, this is a large step up if you like the traditional Mongolian BBQ joints. Now I just have to go back 15 times to master my sauce selection. So many to choose from….so many combinations….oh yeah….

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I'm Jothan Yeager and I am The Bald Gourmet. After years of experimenting in my kitchen, creating delicious food and eating at amazing places around the world, I wanted a place to share my experiences with everyone. Thus the Bald Gourmet was born. I hope to open the doors of great food and great cooking to you, to inspire you to reach beyond prepared boxed meals, and to teach you of a world of deliciousness that has brought joy to me and those around me. Please enjoy the adventure which is The Bald Gourmet and share it with those you love.

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