BD's MONGOLIAN GRILL
OK, I admit I’ve never been to bd’s Mongolian Grill, despite it’s having been in Naperville for years and years. And, further, I confess that part of me assumed they served barbecue, aka something similar to American barbecue, because for years and years the name had been bd’s Mongolian Barbecue. I couldn’t have been further off the mark, and I’m kicking myself for not having checked it out long before now. This is a stir-fry place -- a really good one -- and it’s the ideal location for someone who’s trying to eat healthy or meat free.
Location/atmosphere: If you’ve been to the Promenade Bolingbrook, an upscale outdoor mall off Boughton Road, you know there’s one section devoted just to restaurants. Mongolian occupies one of the prime spots and a huge parking lot nearby means parking is never a problem. The restaurant is relatively spacious, with one large dining room located in the same room as the “grill,” another tucked further back that’s quieter and a third that shares space with the bar. High ceilings, drop lighting and large-paned windows bring in plenty of natural light to what is otherwise fairly minimalist space highlighted by lots of light wood and red-orange accents.
Menu/how it works: It’s the same setup as Flat Top Grill and Stir Crazy. Essentially, you make up your own meal by choosing all of the items that will go into your stir-fry. The waiter hands you a bowl and you head to three counters, which are arranged similar to salad bars. The first is for meat and fish, and the number of choices is ridiculous. Yes, they have the standard chicken, pork and beef, but they also offer mahi mahi, meatballs, ham, sausage, calamari and lots of other things I wouldn’t have considered stir-fry options. Here, too, you can add pasta or rice noodles.
From there, it’s over to the veggie bar, where you load up on broccoli, onions, peppers, tofu, peapods, baby corn, tomatoes and on and on and on. The third stop is the sauce and spice bar, where your 18 choices run from the mild (soy, olive oil, teriyaki) to the more elaborate (shanghai barbecue, Mongolian ginger and pad thai) to the what-the-heck-is-that-doing-here (spicy buffalo, fajita and mongo marinara).
The tough part over, you bring the whole thing over to the huge circular grill, pass it to a chef and watch them prepare it while you wait. The show is part of the fun, although I admit that I’m probably more fond of the Stir Crazy/Flat Top setup, where they simply bring your meal back to the table when it’s ready. Kids, though, will get a kick out of it, and it will be an easy sell to get them to eat their vegetables.
Price-wise, if you make one trip to the grill, you’ll pay $10.99, no matter what you choose. Or go for the bottomless bowl (you can keep going back till you drop), and pay $13.99. A salad and soup bar is part of the mix as are your choice of complementary white or brown rice and tortillas.
What we tried: One dish we mixed up was chicken coupled with broccoli, tofu, baby corn, mushrooms, bean sprouts and egg (you give it to them raw, they add it to the mix on the grill) fried in a pad Thai sauce with peanuts and garlic powder. I’m not sure I’d go with the sauce again – it erred a bit too much on the salty side – but the ingredients were topnotch. The egg, in particular, was a really smart addition. We also sampled an all-veggie option that combined tofu, onions, corn, potatoes, bean sprouts and broccoli in a shitake mushroom sauce. Another good combo. You’ll be in hog heaven, pardon the pun, if you happen to be vegetarian.
Service: A little annoying, truth be told. The waiter must have come by at least six times, and I admit to thinking after his fourth or fifth pass that he must be worried about his tip given that we mostly served ourselves. There’s nothing more irritating than to keep interrupting a conversation just to assure the waiter that “everything’s fine.”
bd's Mongolian Grill
Location: 619 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook
Information: 630-972-0450, www.gomongo.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday