BD’s Mongolian Grill at Southside Works

I’ll be honest.  I was debating whether I wanted to blog about BD’s Mongolian Grill.  Reason being is because it’s a chain restaurant and I blog about local restaurants in the Pittsburgh area.  But I have decided to shake things up a bit and review a chain restaurant in my area.  Some of my fans are probably going ballistic right now, but they will get over it.  I was also intrigued by the concept of creating your own stir fry, and the cooks cooking it in front of you.  This is primarily why I wanted to do a blog review of BD’s.

Let’s get a few things out of the way first.  I finally found out what BD stood for.  It stands for Billy Downs, who is the owner of the company.  It would been way cooler if it was owned by actor BD Wong, but Billy Downs will do.  Also if you expect traditional Mongolian cuisine such as Khorkhog or Buuz, you will be majorly disappointed.  In fact not one thing in the menu has anything to do with real Mongolian cuisine.  It’s just really marketing ploy to get people to come to the restaurant.  When you think Mongolian, you think Genghis Khan.  When you think Genghis Khan, you think bad ass.  Who wouldn’t want to visit a restaurant with a name associated with bad ass.

The create-your-own stir fry concept is pretty cool at this place.  How it works is that you choose your meat, your veggies, and your sauce.  I was really surprised by the different variety of meats you can choose from, but you can only choose one type of meat.  Unsurprisingly you can choose chicken, but they also had ribeye, duck, squid, salmon and others.  I ended up choosing the squid because squid is my all time favorite type of seafood.  Next was the veggies.  I ended up piling quite a bit of veggies into the bowl such as broccoli, peppers, onions, and edamame.  Edamame was definitely a good surprise and glad that I was able pile that into the bowl because I don’t eat it very often at all.  Last is the sauce station.  They had every kind of sauce from peanut sauce to Mongo marinara(again with the marketing ploy).  I ended up choosing the lemon because it was the lightest sauce option.   It was also cool that you can put different spices in your sauce.  I put cayenne pepper in so I can have my dish have a little bit of a kick to it.  All in all I went the “healthy” route on my stir fry.   When you’re training for obstacle course races, you tend to look at food a little differently when you go out especially if it’s not a cheat night.  I was even impressed that I didn’t help myself for seconds.

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After choosing my sauce, I was in line for a good 10 minutes until I gave my bowl to one of the cooks so he can go to town on my dish.  My dish was cooked on a circular grill using 3 foot metal “swords” to stir the food around.  Then they take your sauce, pour it on your dish, and then in a few minutes the dish is done.  The whole experience to be honest wasn’t really authentic or passionate.  The cooks are great at what they do, but it seems they are there more for entertainment than their cooking skills.  They have to hit the gong that’s in the middle of the grilling area if they get a tip, and also they have to shout simultaneously at random moments.  It may be entertaining to some people, but it really didn’t do it for me and really distracted me throughout my whole time at the restaurant.

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I enjoyed eating my stir-fried squid.  The squid was tender and not rubbery.  The sauce and vegetables really were good compliments to the squid.  Even with the lemon sauce, the squid and vegetables managed not to be too sour and the cayenne pepper did indeed give the dish a subtle kick to them.  The server also gave you complimentary white rice or brown rice.  I had two bowls of the brown rice.  It was cooked just right; not too hard and not too mushy.  I would have to say this is one of the better chain experiences I’ve had from a food perspective.

If you go to BD’s, the food itself is worth it just because you can customize your bowl any way you want it.  The next time I go there, I will definitely try the rib-eye and duck.  I might even be daring and combine two types of meat into the bowl.  I know, I’m badass in that way.

Rating 4/5 – Food was great, but the dining experience could have been better.  I think if they stop with the Happy Birthday songs to customers and the rah-rah’s from the cooks, it would have a better experience.  I doubt that will happen.

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