Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mongolean BBQ in Tracy

I am off crutches and finally went to check out the place. The executive summary: not as nice as the place at Howa in Sacramento, but good enough to remove the incentive to drive north for hour and a half. Also, they have an opportunity to improve.

First, the bad. It appears that the place has some issues with inexperienced (or perhaps even lazy) staff, most notably around the cooking table. Chefs' movements weren't all that sure, and they obviously weren't big on cleanliness. The owner had to micro-manage things the chefs forgot to do, so I wonder if he was saddled with family cronies. The invisible kitchen had small issues as well: too much flour in the soup, pastries lost shape and struggled for the taste... Small things, to be sure. I am, however, specifically disappointed by the lack of lamb.

On the upside, they had a competent waiter girl who did her best to balance the impression. Although the absence of lamb was lamentable, the rest of the ingredients was in good order. Chopsticks were available (I rifled through the utensils bin and found a Japanese disposable set - "おてもと" on the wrapper, soft wood from Indonesia). The sides were by the book (althogh at Howa they also add a little seafood-and-cheese pastry). A good set of sauces lined the counter and their house sauce is interesting. Not too strong, and pretty thick. So, the good robust chow, vastly superior to the imitation our New China Buffet offers (not to say anything bad about the buffet in general, but their "Mongolean BBQ" is just not the same). Here we get the real thing.

They accept credit cards, which is a big plus in my book.

I think everyone should at least try the place, for the experience. I saw some folks coming in and being somewhat confused, because there's no dedicated hostess. So, the first thing is to get a hold of a waiter, who will play hostess and reserve a table. Then you can march to the counter and fill the bowl, while she places sides on your table.


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