Dining at Genghis Grill, a new franchise to Oklahoma, offers a handful of lessons for the customer. First is a history lesson. Genghis Grill is named after the infamous warrior Genghis Khan ("Great Ruler"), the founder and leader of the Mongol Empire, who after numerous invasions and raids is known to be the ruler of the largest contiguous empire in history--a large expanse of Asia and Central Asia.
Next, Genghis Grill, the Mongolian stir fry presents an interesting concept for diners; it is a "build your own bowl, fast casual, Asian stir-fry," which mimics in a 21st century style, the legend of how Genghis Khan and his warriors prepared their meals while in battle.
Genghis Grill's Web site states, "It's actually not a cuisine, but an interactive style of exhibition cooking modeled after a centuries-old legend." The point to all this is that based on this "legend," Genghis Khan and his warriors used their shields not only for protection but for preparing their meals. It seems during lulls of battle, their shields were used as a grill by placing food on them and positioning them over open fires on the battlefield.
The third and fourth lessons learned are patience and a need for cleanliness.
A friend and I had a lively experience at Genghis Grill recently on a busy Saturday evening. The restaurant was practically filled, but the hostess led us to a two-top table in the dining room among many boisterous diners. (The tables are situated in very close proximity of each other with little personal space.) Quickly evaluating the area, I asked to be seated at an outside table because the noise level inside was too much for both of us.
We sat outside on the front patio, which turned out to be a very good choice. Here, we could converse at a normal level and were not subjected to others' conversations.
Our server explained what to do to order our meal. We were to take little stainless steel bowls he presented to us and go inside to get in line.
Next, we were to select our "bowl" of stir-fry: either from the prepared signature bowls or we could build our own bowl, choosing our protein, seasoning our protein, picking our veggies, selecting a sauce, and deciding on a starch.
We ordered a few Sapporo beers--$5.50 for the can version and $4.50 for draft. We stood in line for about 15 minutes. The prepared bowls include "Go Traditional": Teriyaki chicken, Thai chicken, Beef Broccoli, Citrus Beef, Sweet and Sour and Special Fried Rice.
All are based on 4 ounces of protein, 1 teaspoon of spice, 1 serving of vegetables and 1 ounce of sauce. Explicit information is available for exactly what is in each bowl--for those interested. Other "menu" bowls include "Heart Healthy" bowls: Pineapple Steak Bowl, Mongo Mix Chicken Bowl and Ginger Herb Shrimp Bowl. Signature Bowls include Firecracker Bowl, Bowl of Seoul, Buddhist Bowl, Bayou Bowl, Surf and Turf and Mongol BBQ.
We decided to build our own bowl ($9.99).
As the line moved, we arrived at the first station: protein. My friend decided on cubed steak and sausage among many options, which included chicken, turkey, ham, calamari, scallops, tofu, shrimp, pepperoni, sausage and Khan's Krab. I selected steak and tofu.
Next, we were to season our protein. Some options are Lemon Pepper, Red Pepper Sesame Seeds, Cajun Seasoning, Dragon Spice, Yellow Curry Salt, Paprika and Cayenne Pepper. We both selected Dragon Spice (spicy hot) and paprika. My friend also added Red Pepper and Granulated Garlic.
After a few spoonfuls of spice, we moved on to the veggie station: carrots, baby corn, bok choy, celery, cilantro, cabbage, broccoli, bamboo shoots, classic stir fry and jalapenos and more. To my bowl, I added bamboo shoots, cabbage and jalapenos; my friend added cabbage, carrots and bok choy. Sauce was next.
Sauce is spooned into a separate bowl. Again, some selections include Chili Garlic, Honey Soy, Mongo BBQ, Dragon, Ginger Citrus, Roasted Tomato, Soy, Szechuan, Island Teriyaki and Red Curry Peanut. We both selected the Dragon Sauce, which was piping hot, yet with a hint of sweetness.
Finally, we were to "call" our starch (Steamed Rice, Udon Noodles, Khan's Krunch, Spiral Pasta, Fried Rice and Brown Rice) to those at the grill. Again, we both went with Fried Rice. I also added an egg to my bowl, which was at the final station before the grill.
A large round grill was where all orders ended for a quick grilling. We put in our starch order and were given a number to set on our table.
Within about 15 minutes, our bowls were brought to our table. Much of our "raw" bowls were grilled down to a small serving in our new red bowl. Both bowls were very good--still warm from the grill. The flavors blended well with our bowl creations. Somehow my bowl ended up with miniature corn, most likely coming from another's mixture on the grill. All orders are grilled side by side on the spacious grill.
We enjoyed ourselves but came to a few conclusions about dining at Genghis Grill. First, the stainless steel bowl simply was not big enough for layering and building our bowls--even if we were modest with the amount of what we chose.
A second and more important area of concern for us was cleanliness. During our time in line, we saw a number of issues, such as the tongs touching the food that others would be placing in their bowls; long-armed reaches over the foods to select an item or two from the back row of the cafeteria-style serving areas; and people less than cautious about getting their foods out of the areas, such as leaning into the food stations a little too close for our liking. In addition, food had become crossed into other bins no doubt just from the sheer volume of people selecting foods in line. Finally, the floor in front of the food station had droppings of food, probably from overfilled bowls.
Despite a lackluster first-time dining experience, I plan on returning to Genghis Grill simply because I'm intrigued with the concept, and the stir fry bowl was exceptionally tasty and a healthy way to dine.
Maybe with more attention to detail, some of the issues we encountered will be rectified upon my next visit.
Genghis Grill, The Mongolian Stir Fry
1617 E. 15th St.
Share this article: