Saturday, May 20, 2006
The Tent Mongolian BBQ, Clarke Quay
Hey...we finally have another Mongolian BBQ in Singapore (yay!). This place (Clarke Quay Block 3D #01-02, 6339-0200) beats the pants off that Kublai Khan place thanks to its fresh selection of ingredients and sauces. Indeed, the selection is so wide that some of them were really unnecessary (I didn't even bother with the salad bar), but nonetheless I was more-or-less able make my bowl the way I wanted it.
There were a few deviations from the norm. For one, they used a teppanyaki grill rather than the usual circular grill that they rotate around (I suppose this theoretically makes the meal soggier given that there is no gravity on a flat teppanyaki grill to allow the juices to roll off like a circular one does, although they did a good job of keeping it from getting too soggy here). Secondly, the meats were not in the thin frozen slices that one is accustomed to; rather, they cubed the meats, which created a slightly different taste and texture, although not so badly that it would prevent me from coming back here. Finally, there were a few things missing in the sauce selection like cooking wine and fresh sprigs of cilantro (they had a tiny little cup of "chopped coriander" instead), but I still got my sauce to taste pretty good.
This place wasn't as cheap as back home either: they charged S$26 (US$15) for all-you-can-eat, but this was in a much nicer setting than places from back home (they brought the bowl to your table after they finished cooking it...and in a really nice porcelain bowl, complete with a lid that held your table number tag). They had a single bowl option listed for less, but it was only available from 11:30-6:30. I actually called them earlier today to see if they were open for lunch, but they said it was dinner-only (I guess you're forced into the higher priced meal for now then!). I don't blame them...I was the only person in there at 7 PM on a Saturday.
Clearly this new place was suffering from a lack of awareness...not only of the restaurant (they are tucked away in the back near Marrakesh, away from all the foot traffic), but probably because many folks didn't know what "Mongolian BBQ" was. Actually, Mongolian BBQ isn't really from Mongolia...it's from Taiwan, and of course is rather commonly found in all parts of the US. And what makes it "Mongolian" in character is the thin slices of meat (that's also the alleged origin of shabu shabu). That's why it was a bit strange that their meats weren't of the thinly-sliced variety here.
Well, just as with Sichuan hot pot, the assembly of ingredients and sauces is up to you, so if you choose poorly, then it can create a potentially boring taste (I avoided that horribly long list of sauce mixes that they listed on signboards and went straight for my own sesame and chili oil-based version). I was also a bit worried when the staff told me that they consider this place to have a bit of "fusion" (oh no!), but fortunately I was able to dodge those elements and pick the right things to save the meal. Indeed, it looked like these guys are owned by a neighboring Indian restaurant at Clarke Quay, which also explained why they had a section of vegetarian sauces as well as Cobra beer from Bangalore (and for those of you back home, that was not to be confused with King Cobra malt liquor...this was much smoother...I actually liked it better than Kingfisher). Well, either way, this place is leaps beyond Kublai Khan. And while it still isn't completely the same as the places from back home (or in Taiwan), I'll definitely come back again. (Hopefully they'll take action from my comment card suggestions and start slicing the meat more thinly too.)
Digested at 7:42 PM
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