Thursday, September 3, 2009

tony cheng's mongolian bbq

tony cheng's mongolian bbq
619 h street NW (between 6th street & 7th street), washington, DC 20001
tel: 202) 842-8669
hours: lunch carryout monday-friday 11am-3pm; dinner carryout sunday-thursday 11am-11pm, friday-saturday 11am-12am midnight; dim sum hong kong style (daily) 11am-3pm, all you can eat mongolian bbq (i'm assuming daily, during all operating hours)
what was consumed: all you can eat mongolian bbq (of course)
so, childhood friend steve has been in town for the past few weeks doing a training here in DC. as he was about to finish, we (c & i) got together, with some other friends, for a sort of departing dinner. we were thinking of matchbox because, for whatever reason, we always find ourselves taking friends visiting from out of town. steve, however, had visited matchbox not once, but twice in the past few weeks (that's a lot!), so we decided on tony cheng's. not only had i never been there, but it is also on my never-ending list of places to eat, it's in a relatively convenient location, and they have an all-you-can-eat option. excellent!
now, before i continue, a couple of words about chinatown. i've been to a couple of chinatowns in my day. heck, i've even been to china. DC's chinatown may be the most not-chinese chinatown ever, even despite the chinese writing, the chinatown gate, and the chinatown busses (haha). the best chinese food in the area (in my opinion, of course) isn't even in chinatown. now that so many have moved out to the 'burbs, where is this (albeit wannabe, i admit) city-girl supposed to go for chinese food if she can't (for now) drive out to the city?! - sigh - ...
anyway ... we walked into tony cheng's and were sort of confused. there's an upstairs and a downstairs and nothing is really labelled (that is, nothing is labelled in english. these non-chinese speakers (who are on occasion mistaken for chinese peeps) were lost lost lost). but some friendly people soon directed us - seafood upstairs, mongolian bbq downstairs. the place was pretty empty, but that it was soon after 6 (i.e., still on the early side for dinner), we figured it would fill up later (it did ... sort of ... but mind you, the dining area is quite large).
so, for those of you who have never had mongolian bbq, this is how it works. you choose all these veggies, noodles, and meat that you want to be bbq-ed. you give it to the guy at the huge (for real, like, 4 foot diameter) skillet sort of thing that gets really really hot (something like 4x the heat of a regular pan or something) and he sautees your selections, including some special sauces, garlic, hot sauce, etc. once sauteed, he puts your concoction in another bowl and you go back to your seat to enjoy. YUM. i remember going to mongolian bbq when i was a kid, but after some time, we never went back. that place was all you can eat as well, and my dad once said something about not going back because the owners didn't like that we ate a lot. but come on - an asian family of 4? we do have voracious appetites, but we cannot be compared to some (if you know what i mean). anyway ...
so, once at our seats at tony cheng's, we got right back up and headed to the bar to create our bowls. noodles, carrots, broccoli, lots of sprouts, and thin slices of beef later, i took i to the guy to sautee. he then proceeded to ask me if i wanted garlic (yes) and hot sauce (yes), and then added all of these other sauces to my bowl. while delicious, it was a bit too salty for my liking. i reminded myself to ask the guy to add less sauce. and so, the second bowl was the same thing, but i opted for lamb instead of beef (and this time, while seasoned better, but i was not really a fan of the lamb). third bowl was essentially the same as the first. but by this time, i was SO full that it probably would have mattered less.
all of the ingredients were pretty fresh to begin with, so i would imagine it would be sort of hard to mess up the dish. but still - the combination of flavors and ingredients filled my stomach over and over and over again (yes, in total, i had 3 bowls. while that seems like not that much, you must believe me when i beg to differ and say that it was. a lot. YUM).
all in all, i'll have to say that the meal was grand and we all left thinking that our money was well spent, and not a lot of it was spent at that (mind you, we didn't drink - does that matter? i know, so uncharacteristic). especially on a day where we are super hungry and we want some straight up veggies and beef, asian style, i know i will have a hankering for tony cheng's!

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