What Is Mongolian BBQ?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Mongolian BBQ or Mongolian barbecue is a style of stir fry which allows diners to pick their own ingredients and sauce, assembling a dish which is customized to their tastes. Some Chinese and other Asian restaurants offer Mongolian BBQ along with other menu items, and some restaurants specialize in this style of stir fry. You can also make this dish at home, if you have access to a big frying pan or griddle. The customization option may appeal to picky diners.

Despite the name, Mongolian BBQ is not Mongolian at all, and it isn't an ancient dish which traveled across the steppes with Genghis Khan, contrary to what promotional brochures will tell you. In fact, this dish was invented in 20th century Taiwan, and it was probably inspired by Japanese cuisine, rather than Mongolian or Chinese cuisine.

Mongolian BBQ is prepared on a very large and extremely hot griddle. Diners pick out the vegetables and meats they want, along with a sauce, and the cook tosses the ingredients on the griddle and fries them. The distinctive feature of the dish is that the griddle is typically large enough to prepare multiple meals at once, making it an extremely efficient food preparation technique and allowing diners to move through the restaurant quickly.


Many people like Mongolian BBQ because they enjoy having control over the contents of their plates. This is especially true for people who are picky, as it allows them to create a custom dish which caters to their desires. Mongolian BBQ can also be fun, as diners typically watch the cook at work, and it can be exciting to think about the best pairings of vegetables and meats. At home, this dish can be a good way to get everyone involved with meal preparation.

There are some cautions to be considered with Mongolian BBQ. Strict vegetarians, for example, should be aware that meats are cooked on the griddle, and if they are concerned about eating meat, they may want to visit a restaurant which offers a vegetarian option. This is also true for people who do not eat particular meats for religious reasons. Also, the sauces used often contain gluten, nuts, and other allergens, and because the griddle is used communally, there is a risk that these allergens could end up in your food even if you try to avoid them.


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