Despite the name, Mongolian Barbeque is the perfect American restaurant: You grab as much food as you can possibly fit into one bowl, throw it on a scalding hot grill, watch it sizzle and eat stir-fry until you can eat no more. God bless America.

Mongolian Barbeque is technically a sit-down restaurant, but there is very little sitting involved because you spend most of your time at the massive buffet, observing your meticulously constructed feast being prepared by a throng of eager and vociferous employees armed with metal, machete-like chopping utensils (which used to be wooden and much cooler).

The eating of the food becomes almost secondary to the preparation, for the time spent consuming said food is just potential buffet time being wasted, and if you eat too slowly, your body will have time to reluctantly inform you that if you try to cram in any more food, your body will consist almost entirely of teriyaki sauce and garlic powder, which will flow through your veins instead of blood. If this happens, you will not have time to get your money’s worth of the cornucopia of meat, vegetables, savory sauces, oils and spices.

For most people, three bowls is like the four-minute-mile – no matter how much you prepare and now matter how hungry you are, few can beat it. There are those talented individuals who can devour bowl after bowl like it was the oxygen in their very lungs, but three is industry standard.

In the meat department, you have your standard beef, chicken, pork, lamb, etc., and there is also a variety of seafood, including shrimp and calamari, which is both delicious and useful for grossing out squeamish friends. The vegetable section includes everything from sugar snap peas to pineapple, and the oil, sauce and spice section contains everything for the discriminating palate.

(A word to the wise: Use the following sauces sparingly: The lemon juice, which is more potent than you might think, and the hot mustard – you’ll regret overuse later. Enough said.)

A recent development that hurts the restaurant is the rearrangement of the stations at the buffet. The meat used to be the first thing you would get, followed by the veggies, sauces, oils, and so on.

Now, however, the meat follows the non-meat, in what can only be a fiendish plot by the fat-cats to trick people into filling their bowls with vegetables before they get to the meat.

That being said, Mongolian Barbeque is a fun and surprisingly active dining experience that is fun for the whole family or for a group of slightly intoxicated youngsters looking to get the most bang for their buck.

The legend behind Mongolian

The official explanation for the name of the popular chain restaurant, which has almost 30 locations across the country, comes from the cooking habits of Mongol hunters hundreds of years ago. They would retire to river-side camps after long days of hunting and cook meat and vegetables on the backs of their shields after slicing the food into strips with their swords.

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