Mongolian BBQ is one hell of a concept. It might not originate from Mongolia, and it may not be barbecue, but it’s positively awesome. It’s a big bowl packed with your choice of vegetables, chicken, beef, pork, tofu, rice, noodles and secret sawwwcez all stir fried on a massive bad ass round iron griddle. Fresh, super healthy and packed with flavors, Gengis’s House in Recoleta is a banging addition to the scarce world of healthy (and good tasting) Buenos Aires restaurants.
Back in the day I used to pile drive my plate high at Stir Crazy or abuse the unlimited make-your-own stir fry at Flat Top Grill, but I had never heard of the Mongolian BBQ concept before checking out Gengis’s‘s’s's’s. They all share a similar idea: you choose your own meats, vegetables and sauces, and then watch as a grill master stir-fries away right before your eyes.
Despite the name, ’Mongolian BBQ,’ and the tribute on the wall to Genghis Khan, a major big shot in Mongol Empire days, the actual food concept originated in Taiwan, and later spread to other countries around the world. I won’t explain the details of the origins of Mongolian BBQ, if you are interested like I was then you can read all about it on Wikipedia. The owner, from Argentina, spent time working in a Mongolian BBQ restaurant in California and leaped to fill the BA niche.
So here’s how you do it: grab a bowl and add your meat. You can choose from beef (res), chicken or pork. Warning: the meat comes in odd-shaped curled frozen cylinders. I’ve never seen meat in this state before, so I didn’t include much in my bowl – I thought it was going to be a weird texture.
Fast forward to the result: I was totally wrong and ended up stealing beef and chicken pieces from my food partner’s bowl. Then move on to the vegetables. They offer about 15 standard toppings to choose from – nothing too crazy, yet it was all fresh and good quality AKA no wilting, sad, limp, brown-edged rejects. Tofu is even available, score with soja. Mushrooms too, score with shrooming.
I had to remind myself that it’s not about how many different vegetables you add, it’s how you play the game. Words of wisdom: LESS IS MORE. I chose a tofu, broccoli, celery, green pepper, shroom, bean sprout and pineapple mix. Don’t be shy – you’ll be sorry later if you are a wimp in the food line. Size matters. I tried to stack it higher, but the pineapples came tumbling down.
Next comes the sauce part – they don’t have a massive selection, but there’s some garlic something, soy sauce algo and spicy kick. I asked for THE WORKS (all three sauces). *Next time I’d ask for extra sauces, especially more spice.* Then you choose your carb – rice or noodles – before it’s all thrown on the griddle. OR you can opt for plain white rice (that’s cooked properly in a rice cooker) with the stir fry on the side.
It only takes a few minutes to cook the goods. The Grillman gives it a few mixes, tosses, turns, poses for the camera and squirts some water on top. A huge advantage of this type of stir fry, as opposed to a Chinese wok, is that they use water on the grill for cooking instead of oil. The plate of greatness doesn’t come out overly greasy, and won’t make your mouth nauseously numb with MSG. The final products.
If Stir Crazy/Flat Top me back in the day could see me now! I used to make onion-frenzied noodle choices, now I showed restraint with simple rice.
The onda is what you’d expect in a Mongolian BBQ + standard Argentine café hybrid (yes, they also offer a regular Argie café, medialuna, tostado menu). A TV screen showing the local news, random people from the barrio drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, a giant mural of Genghis Khan, a mini faux-garden in a tiny semi piso, the food bar, and the iron griddle all in one harmonious space. I almost wanted to pull a Seinfeld and encourage them to go strictly Pakistani.
Riobamba 1177, Recoleta
Mon – Sat: 7.30am – 11.30pm, Sun: 12.00pm – 11.30pm
Average price: AR$50 (with drink)