The secret is to avoid the noodles and carrots. Remember, you can always make yourself packets and packets of instant noodles at 39 cents. So, I know they look tantalizing, but stick to the proteins. I’m talking salmon, beef, scallops. Chicken, not so much. A whole roast chicken costs 10 bucks from superstore.

I vaguely knew about the Mongolie Grill and the concept of do-it yourself, pay-by-the-weight stir-fry, but once I  finally made the pilgrimage, I got burned. I went crazy over the wicked thick noodles, piled up my ugly metal bowl, and ended up with a bill of over $20 for a huge pile of heavy stir-fry, of which I could only eat about four forkfuls before feeling I was about to burst and scatter thick noodles all over the fancy upscale dimlit decor. The girl next to me was an experienced veteran of the Grill, she cannily stuck to beef and bean sprouts, and her meal cost five bucks.  After all, they give you free fluffy rice, and free rice wraps. There is really no excuse to pay for starch.

The sauces, ah! Here is where you may go wild- there are about twenty? or maybe ten? different varieties. Again, I got burnt- almost literally, since I was seduced by the dark red of the Mongolie sauce and burned the roof off my mouth. Next time, I am sticking to peanut and oyster.

The great thing about Mongolie is that there is something for everyone, as the cliche goes. The Golden Boy can gorge on plain white rice and plain fried beef, the Princess and I can mess around with sauces and vegetables to out heart’s content. So here’s to d-i-y stir-fry.


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