Pros: you pick exactly what ingredients you want, all you can eat!
Cons: sometimes the combinations you pick can suck
Okay, so that's not really Genghis Grills' slogan. Genghis Grill actually bills itself as "Mongolian Barbecue". If you've never been fortunate enough to eat at a Genghis Grill, you don't know what you're missing! I'm reviewing the Genghis Grill located in Dallas at 10220 Technology Blvd. East.
What exactly is "Mongolian Barbecue"?
Well, Genghis Grill's website says this: "What we've learned from Mongolian history...For centuries, scholars have debated the reason for Genghis Khan's military success. Some say he was a tactical genius. Others attribute his success to bold thinking. We, on the other hand, know exactly why his armies were so successful. They ate well. Really well.
As night fell on the encamped soldiers, they placed their shields over open fires, got them searing hot, then added meat, vegetables, spices and oils to create a hearty stir-fry feast. It is said the wonderful aromas coming from their fires caused enemy troops to surrender without a fight.
Today we've taken this irresistible recipe and created the Genghis Grill. Like your Mongol heroes, you select fresh meat, bird or fish and add your choice of vegetables, spices, oils and sauces then let our Grill Masters cook it to perfection."
A quick rundown:
Basically, you have a variety of meats (and tofu for you vegetarians), sauces, veggies, and spices to choose from. You choose one meat, as many veggies as you want, 5-6 ladles of sauce, and spices (if you so desire). Up until recently, you also had to choose 1/2 ladle of oil (Peanut, Canola, or Sesame) - but the Technology Blvd. location hasn't had the oil the last few times we've been there. Don't know what happened to it! Anyway, you pile all this food into a bowl, then hand it to a "Grill Master" who cooks your food over the "Genghis Grill" (it's like a large, flat, circular wok), which reaches a temperature of 650 degrees F.
Hmm, sounds interesting. What ingredients do I have to choose from?
Pretty much anything you'd possibly want to eat is here. You could make an Asian bowl, BBQ, even steak & potatoes! Genghis Grill doesn't have their actual ingredients listed online, but I've been there enough times, hopefully I can remember them all! I do not know if any of the food is organic. I doubt it.
Meats: Beef ** Calimari ** Chicken ** Crab ** Fish (cod) ** Lamb ** Pork ** Scallops ** Shrimp ** Steak ** Turkey ** and Tofu
Veggies (and Fruit): Baby Corn ** Bean Sprouts ** Bell Peppers ** Bok Choy ** Broccoli ** Cabbage ** Carrots ** Celery ** Cilantro ** Green Beans ** Green Onions ** Jalapenos ** Leeks ** Mushrooms ** Onions ** Pineapples ** Potatoes ** Snow Peas ** Squash ** Tomatoes ** Water Chestnuts ** Zucchini
Sauces: Asian Chili ** BBQ ** Black Bean w/Garlic ** Chili Garlic ** Garlic Water ** Hoisin ** Honey Mustard ** Lemon Water ** Lime Ginger ** Oyster ** Peanut ** Plum ** Soy ** Sweet & Sour ** Szechuan ** Teriyaki ** White Wine
Spices: Cajun ** Carib Jerk ** Cayenne ** Chili ** Curry ** Dill ** Garlic ** Ginger ** Mixed Herbs ** Nuts ** Paprika ** Pepper ** Red Pepper ** Rosemary ** Salt ** Seasoned Salt ** Sesame
Miscellaneous: You can also add cooked pasta (rotini or linguine) to your bowl, if you'd like. There are also raw eggs available if you'd like to have one scrambled in.
A few things to know, and what to avoid: In addition to the bowl you've just created, you can also get a bowl of steamed or fried rice, and/or flour tortillas. The times I've chosen chicken at Genghis Grill, it usually comes out dry. I've never found any "magic" combination of sauces that prevents this; I think it's just due to the grill being so hot. I typically stick with beef, steak, or shrimp. Also, the shrimp aren't those jumbo shrimp you might be thinking of - it's that baby shrimp you put in salad. The shrimp and scallops usually seems to come out fine - not overcooked or chewy. My mother-in-law has tried the calimari - she said it was good, so I'll take her word on that. If you ask for it, your waiter can bring you cheese and sour cream, if you'd like to make a taco with your food (obviously, you need some flour tortillas to do this). If you're allergic to any foods offered at Genghis Grill, tell a Grill Master before they pour the contents of your bowl on the grill! The grill is circular, and usually your food is only 5-6" away from someone else's. Seeing as the grill is so hot, small things like nuts or sesame seeds tend to "jump" once they hit it, not to mention that the Grill Masters have to constantly toss your food around so it cooks evenly. It's not uncommon to find a lone broccoli floret in my bowl, when I didn't choose broccoli to begin with. If you tell a Grill Master about your allergy though, they will be more careful and cook your food a little farther away than everyone else's.
What refreshing beverage choices do I have to wash down all this great sustenance?
Well, Genghis Grill offers the usual sodas (Coke, Dr Pepper, Sprite, Diet Coke) along with iced tea. They also seem to have a wide variety of imported and domestic beers. I rarely drink alcohol, so I'll try and list everything I remember seeing in the bar. I know they offer Bud, Miller, Coors (those first three are available bottled and on tap), Corona, Rolling Rock, Heinekin (there are more, but I couldn't see all the bottles!) The bar also has a variety of vodkas (Absolut was one), Tequila, Jim Bean, Crown Royal, Kahula, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (I think)...basically, whatever you want to drink, they probably have the liquor to make it. You can also order a "Mongorita" or Genghis Grills' new drink, "Naked". Don't know what's in Naked, none of the cards advertising it on the tables tell you what it is! I've seen other diners drinking wine before, so I know Genghis Grill has that too. They do have a happy hour, I believe it's 5pm-close with $1.50 well drinks, but don't quote me on that...
Okay, I've eaten and I'm almost full, but don't want another entire bowl of food. Now what?
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Genghis Grill has ice cream, and not the typical rocky road stuff either. Well okay, you can get plain vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. But why do that when you can order something really different, like Red Bean, Plum Wine, or Green Tea? One scoop is $2, three scoops will run you four bucks. The Plum Wine is pretty good, Green Tea is unusual...subtle, but still unusual. I honestly don't really remember what the Red Bean tasted like - I know I didn't spit it out thinking "oh, that tastes like sh!t!", so it couldn't have been that bad...
Now that you know all about the food, here's some info on the location itself:
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I'm reviewing the Genghis Grill location at 10220 Technology Boulevard East (Suite 102). It's roughly in the 35E & Northwest Highway area - you can go to Yahoo Maps or Mapquest to get directions. Genghis Grill actually shares a building with Jason's Deli - Genghis Grill takes up the left half of the building. There's not a lot of parking spots on the Genghis Grill side - you may have to park in the Bennigan's lot next door. When you walk up to the front door, you'll notice there's a covered patio on the right so you can eat outside if you'd like (I think there's about 5-6 tables out there, so it's not very big). If you smoke, and it's warm enough outside (or you really like cold weather), you may want to eat on the patio, because Dallas enacted that no-smoking ban in restaurants a few months back.
When you walk in the front door, most of the restaurant is immediately visable (you can't see the kitchen). To me, this location looks more masculine - the tables and chairs are made of a combination of black metal and dark wood, low lighting, no bunnies or kitschy country stuff here! The ceiling looks like an old warehouse - it's painted black, and you can see the AC ducts, pipes, etc. I'm guessing the floor is just concrete that was painted a deep red, it's definitely not tile. The lower half of the walls in the dining area are 12x12 beige-ish ceramic tile, and the upper half of the walls are painted a beige color. When you walk in, the bar is to your left - there's seating for roughly 8-10 people. The whole restaurant is pretty small (I'm guessing the maximum capacity is about 125), so the bar only has one tv. The tv is usually tuned to sports - last time we were there the Mavericks game was on, and they piped the game in through the speakers, so even if you couldn't see the tv, you could at least hear the game. In a small hallway right past the bar are the bathrooms. The women's bathroom has a toilet, sink, and paper towel dispenser (no auto hand dryer, and the cold water in the sink is really cold!). It's usually pretty clean (about as clean as you could expect a public restroom to be). I've never been in the men's room, don't think I want to either! Anyway, the dining area takes up most of the visible space here; if I counted right, there are 19 tables for 4, and 9 tables for 2. You can move the tables around if you have a larger party and all want to sit together. The tables and chairs against the front and side wall are taller (they're probably close to 4') than the tables in the center of the restaurant - it's a little hard to get in and out of those chairs if you're short like me! The seating along the side wall is slightly different...the seating against the wall is actually a long booth instead of chairs. The booth seating is made of leather, so it's pretty comfortable. There's also a large mirror above the booth seating (good for checking to see if anything's stuck in your teeth), plus it helps make the room look larger. There's a half-wall divider with wood columns (there's also two gongs hanging here, but I don't think you're supposed to touch them) near the back of the restaurant - this separates the dining area from the food/cooking area.
In the back of the restaurant is where you get your food and have it cooked. The walls back here are all tile, easier cleanup I guess. The food is set up cafeteria-style - the meats and veggies are kept over ice so they stay cold, and there's the clear "sneeze guard"...don't worry about not knowing what's what, everything is written on the guard. Pasta is the first food you can choose from, then meats, then veggies and finally sauces. Want to know what a sauce tastes like? Use one of the tasting spoons. Keep going...there's a counter right next to the food station, the spices are right there in front of you, along witht the raw eggs. Ooh, now you're close to the good part! The counter separates you from the grill. Move on down to the end of the counter, and hand your bowl to a grill master. He'll (I've never seen a female grill master) pour the contents of your bowl on the grill and foosh! it starts cooking. And boy is it hot right here! There's a large vent right over the grill to help get rid of the smoke, steam, etc. I don't think working as a grill master is something I would enjoy... It is fun to watch them though - occasionally they'll show off by throwing your empty bowl over their shoulder into the wash bin, or flipping a pineapple chunk into the air and catching it in a bowl behind their back (kids would love watching this)! Once your food is done cooking, the grill master will pour it into a ceramic bowl for you, and ask if you want rice and/or tortillas (the rice comes in a separate bowl, they don't mix it for you). Be careful, the bowl your cooked food is in will be pretty darn hot! All you have to do now is go back to your table, and enjoy! And of course, go back and get more if you're hungry. :) Note: At the end of the counter is a tip jar (yes, you're encouraged to tip the grill masters) and a jar where you can enter your business card to win a free lunch).
My food sucks, can I start over???
Yes you can! If you created a bowl that tastes like crap, just leave it on the table, and go back and try again. It's all you can eat, remember? For those of you who may need a little help in creating your dish, there are recipe cards available near the food station that tell you what to pick (for example, BBQ, sweet & sour, Caribbean-inspired, etc). Your waitperson can probably give you some suggestions also (when he or she seats you, they'll ask if you've been to Genghis Grill before. If you haven't, they'll walk you back to the food station and show you what to do).
Miscellaneous stuff (prices, hours, phone number):
Kids under 2 eat free. Kids under 12 eat for $4.99. Lunch for adults is $8.99, dinner is $12.99. Non-alcoholic drinks are 2 bucks, with free refills. Alcoholic drinks vary in price (I believe a Mongorita is $4.95, but I'm not 100% sure on that). Again, one scoop of ice cream is $2, three scoops is $4. Water's free (duh).
The location on Technology Blvd. is open during the following hours:
Mon - Thur: 11am - 2:30pm, 5:00pm - 10pm
Friday: 11am - 2:30pm, 5pm - 11pm
Saturday: 11am - 11pm
Sunday: 11am - 10pm
Phone number: 214-350-4554, Fax number: 214-350-4556, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.genghisgrill.com
18% gratuity is included on parties of 6 or more. There's a maximum of two credit cards per party.
A few money-saving tips!!
You can go to restaurant.com and buy a $25 gift certificate for $12.50, plus $.50 handling. Even though it's half price for you, Genghis Grill will honor it as a $25 certificate; basically it equals a free meal. You'll have to check restaurant.com though to see which Genghis Grill locations are participating (the location I've reviewed does, but I'm not sure about the others.)
You can sign up at Genghis Grill's website to win a free lunch or dinner. By giving them your info, they'll notify you about specials, and when your birthday rolls around again, they'll send you a coupon good for a free "birthday bowl".
Also, make sure you drop your business card in the bowl located at the end of the counter in front of the grill! My husband did that once, and a couple of weeks ago, received a "buy one, get one meal free" email offer. I'm on the main email list (by signing up through their website) but I didn't get an email for a free meal like my husband did. Each location must keep a separate mailing list I'm guessing...
There are a few other Genghis Grill locations in the Dallas area, along with locations in Ohio, Iowa and Colorado. The other locations in/around Dallas are:
Dallas: 5500 Greenville Ave., Ste. 402 (lower Greenville)
Dallas: 11661 Preston Rd., Ste. 127 (Preston Rd/Forest Ln)
Dallas: 3800 Commerce (downtown)
Addison: 4201 Beltline Rd.
Southlake: 2970 East Southlake Blvd.
Ft Worth: 3000 South Hulen St.
Lots of thanks to Megugrrrl for adding this for me so quickly - ludicrously quickly!
Thanks for reading (and/or rating/commenting)!!
© MH 2003