Food Fun at Mongo’s Grill

May12

Since D and I grew up in the hospitality business, we still chat about culinary market trends. He recently shared with me that “Fast Casual” is the fastest growing restaurant segment in the world. When you drive into the packed parking lot for the Mongo Grill on Ellice you can see that this must be the case. Jolibee and Za Pizza are their neighbours and there are many more options in the vicinity.

So how do you choose one over the other? I am confident that all have good tasting food but Mongo’s, in my eyes, puts together the most nutritious option. The icing on the cake is how much fun the place is. We were a largish group and the fun started as soon as we sat down. Actually, we got a tour of the self serve food areas and the enormous grill and then we sat down.

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I don’t know about you, but I miss the days when salad bars were a part of the dining experience. In Mongo’s case you can add the soup or salad bar to the cost of your bowl. I chose the Spicy Thai Chicken Soup to start and thought that it was just as good as soups I have enjoyed at Thai restaurants and certainly tastier than I could have made at home.

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Mongo’s salad bar was full of healthy veggies with a great selection of protein options.

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I tucked into a seafood salad, a scoop of cottage cheese and pickled beets (one of my favs).

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We got some coaching from a Mongo’s expert in our group (her son was one of the cooks that evening) about how to put together our bowl to make the most of the space. She suggested that we make a wall of meat in our bowls in order to fence in the rest of the ingredients.

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I chose scallops instead of meat, so the strategy didn’t work for me. But I had such fun choosing all my ingredients and then piling the noodles on last. She also suggested that we would want to keep the stir fry moist with plenty of ladles of the many sauce choices. I stuck to teriyaki and was really pleased with the end result.

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A number of dinners can be on the grill at the same time. separated by weighty, long spatulas that are also used to turn the ingredients over as the cooking takes place. A number of our group chose to be their own broiler chefs. The females remarked what an arm work out they received when maneuvering the food and spatulas around.

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Once mine was plated, I still had the opportunity to add some texture and taste. I did so with a liberal sprinkling of chopped peanuts and some sweet chili sauce.

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My favourite part of a stir fry is the abundance of noodles and I was sure pleased with my veggie/noodle ratio. My son tells me that he never piles on the noodles but asks for a side of rice that is generously offered so that he can fill his bowl with more protein and veggies. The good news is that everyone can be accommodated exactly the way they choose. That is the beauty of Mongo’s.

What I thought was particularly clever about the Mongo’s concept is that there was never any “lag” time while waiting for your food. Because the guest decides when to assemble their ingredients and then watches their dinner be finished on the grill, there isn’t any awkward time spent waiting for food to come out of a busy kitchen. Brilliant! Going to have to take my grandbabies next time.

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This was the Pecan Brownie that someone else at our table ordered.

But wait, there was more. The dessert menu was extensive and I was so full of noodles, that I couldn’t imagine eating another thing. The staff graciously suggested that they pack up a Turtle Pie for me and I enjoyed immensely the next day.

Kath’s quote: “I love Chinese food, like steamed dim sum, and I can have noodles morning, noon and night, hot or cold. I like food that’s very simple on the digestive system – I tend to keep it light. I love Japanese food too – sushi, sashimi and miso soup“. -Shilpa Shetty

TSR Watermark - 5600

Love never fails.

 

 

 

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