Probably the worst restaurant i've ever been to

God what crap. So I go to an all you can eat mongolian BBQ buffet here in town. I figure since its $6 it can’t be too bad of a gamble. I find that instead of a buffet like i’m used to they have a bunch of raw things you are supposed to put together in a bowl and then have the cook fry up for you. I don’t like this set-up at all, but I go along with it. Since i’m not much of a vegetarian I just put about 2 lbs of beef and chicken in a bowl with no noodles or vegetables. There is also a ‘regular buffet’ with cooked food, but they only have 8 options, and 7 of the metal tubs look like they haven’t seen food in a while, so I figure they probably won’t anytime soon.

So the waitress brings me my drink and this is honestly the only place i’ve ever been to where they water down the coke. Why they hell would you water down coke, doesn’t it only cost like 10 cents a glass when businesses buy the syrup in bulk? I know that as a consumer I can buy a 2 liter for 99 cents, which comes to about 20 cents a glass. Businesses have to be getting it cheaper than that. Why water it down and save a nickel? Tasted like crap.

So they bring my food and its mediocre at best. No flavor really, and there are no spices like A1 to put on my stuff. So I eat about half of it (because it had alot of stringiness and fat on it) then I go up to the normal buffet with the cooked food, which they finally put out. They put out General Tsaos chicken, which is usually one of the best things at a chinese restaurant. Not so here, they managed to fuck that up too by putting vinegar in it. Each time i’d try to take a bite I couldn’t because I was nauseaous from the smell of vineger. So I leave, and this is one of the few, few times in my life that I leave an all you can eat buffet not full. But

Suffice it to say it was one of the worst restaurants i’ve ever seen and it was the worst that I can remember. I may’ve been to worse in my 25 years but I don’t remember them.

Dude, not to minimize your pain - but WTF did you expect from a $6 AYCE Mongolian buffet in Bloomington? Reminds me of the time my Aunt wanted to drag us to some Chinese restaurant in Columbus, OH. I’m like, uh, NO, we live in Chicago where there are a lot of actual Asians - gimme that Skyline Chili instead.

OTOH, I don’t like those “bring me the food, I’ll cook it” buffets either - too weird.

Is The Old Hickory restaurant still in business? My Dad was a waiter there about 40 years ago.

Bah. I have gone to several buffets for at/around/under $6 and all but this one were damn good (and this is authentic too, but it seems like pretty much all ethnic restaurants are run soley by their respective ethnic group). You can’t tell how good a buffet is by the price, because this is a college town and they have to keep prices low to get customers. Besides $6 for a buffet is about normal from what I have seen.

Of the top of my head I can name

3 chinese places
1 steakhouse
3 pizza places

That have AYCE buffets for at/around/under $6 here in town and they are all really good.

On these type of buffets don’t they usually put out flavored oils and sauces or spices and herbs on the buffet line that you are supposed to add to the meat and veg. before you hand it over to be cooked? Might it be your fault it was flavorless?

I honestly didn’t see any, but maybe I bypassed them since I have never been to this type of buffet before. What kinds of seasons would they have put out anyway?

I love good mongolian BBQ!!! Pick the thinly shaved meats, add the veggies and noodles, especially the fresh cilantro, then mix and match the sauces and oils! Smoked sesame oil paired with crushed garlic and ginger, and a little lemon water! Sprinkle with sesame seeds, have the guy cook it up, man that’s good eating. Or sometimes I’ll use the sesame oil infused with the hot pepper seeds, and the sweet szechuan sauce.

But you have to know what you like, how to mix it, and what sauces to add.

First off, it was a Mongolian BBQ restaurant - that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be like. If your food wasn’t good, then it was a problem with the person who put the ingredients together - you. Which place was it? I’d imagine it’s the chain that’s also up here in Indy. If so, there’s an entire buffet section with spices and sauces to include with your food. Not to mention the suggested recipes all over the walls.

And General Tsao’s? Again, you were at a mongolian restaurant, not a chinese one - they are different foods. You’re basically complaining about the quality of the lasagna at the local diner.

You seem to know how to do it, maybe I just didn’t mix the right things together with the right sauces. Even so the coke was still watered down and the General Tsao’s chicken still made me nauseous so I won’t be going back.

At my favorite Mongolian BBQ there are about a dozen flavored/spiced liquid dressings you can use. They have “recipes” on the wall that you can follow if you like: 2 scoops garlic water, 2 satay, 1 lemon, 1 ginger, etc. More is better because they need liquid to cook properly; if you haven’t added enough, the cooks will just add water.

Your choice of ingredients sounds pretty boring, but then I favor veggies over meats. If you had had about even amounts of meat/veggie/noodle, with plenty of flavoring, you might have had a better experience. A bowl of meat only does not a good Mongolian BBQ make. And I’ll wager that a good part of your disappointment was not knowing what to expect. (BTW, A1 sauce on your food at an Asian restaurant? The horror.)

And yeah, $6 sounds pretty cheap and I wouldn’t expect much. I think the one we go to is about $14 or so (but worth every penny, and we make sure to go hungry!).

Mmmmm, Mongolian BBQ. : drool :

I’ve only eaten at one once (It’s out of business now, the first and last in our town, AFAIK.) but at the end bar of the buffet they had a variety of chili oil, herb oil, plain oil, S&P, cayenne, garlic, ginger, scallions, teriyaki, soy, and some proprietary sauces.

I agree. Mongolian BBQ, while not necessarily very Mongolian, is definitively not Chinese.

The trick is to laden your bowl of raw food with sauces, because the food is cooked on a very high griddle, which tends to dry things out a bit, and of course the sauces add flavour. I know this after a similar bitter experience to the OP.

And horribly sweet Coke with a spicy meal? Bleaugh. Water, wine or beer.

If done right, it should be lovely. Any complaint about the dish should be self-addressed.

Hold the phone — If you know all about the spices & sauces & how to mix them, then why bother eating out? And who has time to read the wall when there’s a line of equally hungry people behind you?

I’ve just come here to say that I love reading Wesley Clark’s restaurant threads. They usually involve heartfelt (heartburnfelt?) emotion about large amounts of food for short money. I just picture him clipping his BOGO coupons saying, “Damn that John Kerry. I coulda been president!”

Because I’m not willing to spend $200 on 80 assorted spices and sauces?

It’s not rocket science. Put in what you like and skip the stuff you don’t, and fill the bowl almost to the top with liquid. I like garlic, lemon, and satay, and skip the hot stuff. The other convenient part is that they already done the prep – you just toss the stuff in your bowl and they cook it. Easy peasy.

Sorry, didn’t address this…

One would assume that if there’s a line of hungry people waiting behind you, you yourself have been in that line with nothing to do but…wait for it…read the wall.

They have those Mongolian Grill things at pretty much every mall food court, here. As a veggielover I love their selection of vegetables, and their tofu is good. Before you hand your bowl of raw ingredients to a cook you add your own sauces and seasonings, which include things like little hot peppers, minced garlic [YESSSS], soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, Sriracha, etc etc lots more. Then they poke it around on the grill with those big sticks. It’s a good thing.

Lobster oil, chili oil, sesame oil, garlic oil. There should also be a big bowl (or shaker jar) of roasted sesame seeds. You should also really consider adding some onions, and perhaps some bok choy

Oh please, like I nudged the waitress and said ‘be sure and water the coke down really well so it tastes like creek water’ before I asked her to put vinegar in the chicken.

I don’t recall any recipes on the wall but they probably were there somewhere. I have never been to a restaurant where you have to actually cook your own food so I didn’t really spend alot of time looking around for that kind of info.

Dang, somebody better say “fuck” before this gets moved to CS.