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HuHot Mongolian Grill

In a word: Bad luck, Genghis. Nice to have you on the show.

The specs: #0429
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at 77 Square March 13 and April 29, Isthmus; official web site, HuHot Mongolian Grill on Urbanspoon

JM, John and Nichole all picked their own stir fry.
The bill was about $35, or $11.66/person.
JM and Nichole gave HuHot an A- (see our grading rubric).

Mongolian BBQ, and HuHot in particular, is the carwash of buffets. Watching the grill staff cook everyone's meals is like watching your auto go through Octopus, in a good way. It's hypnotizing.

At the grill

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. We started off with soup and/or salad. The house Asian salad was a bunch of fresh greens topped with a zingy vinaigrette, raw ramen noodles to add crunch, and sweet mandarin oranges and tomatoes.

SaladThe hot and sour soup was more hot and less sour. As for the other sides, the brown rice was fluffy enough to please the least granola customers, and the flour tortillas were served warm but stuck together.

Soup

We were pleased with the ingredients on the stir fry line. There was a huge variety of meat (especially seafood - scallops, shrimp, octopus, shark, white fish, and oysters) and non-meat proteins. The chicken, beef and pork were all frozen rather than raw, which we found reassuring. An even more dazzling array of vegetables, some fruit, and starches (noodles and rice) followed. Finally, more than two dozen sauce components (juices, oils, infused vinegars and spices) ended the line, with suggestions hanging above the station to guide you. The air in the place wasn't greasy; the line moved fast; and though it was pretty packed, it didn't feel crowded.

We each tried 3-4 small bowls of stir fry to make the most of the variety available. (Not everyone takes that approach - we saw some patrons pile two bowls to overflowing and sit down with a giant homogeneous mess. To each his own.) HuHot does a better job than most Mongolian BBQs of making suggestions, right down to putting recipe cards at the table. For instance, John followed the Sweet and Sour Seafood recipe exactly and found it a winning combination.

Sweet and Sour Seafood

Above the condiment/sauce bar there are even more ideas for saucing yourself.

You can also play games with your food. Nichole tried the "round trip" recipe card - send exactly one black bean with a bunch of white food like bamboo shoots, chicken, water chestnuts, and tofu and see if it makes it back whole. Her second bowl was Mexi-themed, with hot sausage, cabbage, tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro and other vegetables in a chile-lime dressing which paired well with the tortillas.

"Mexican" stir fry

JM concocted a few tasty dishes involving pork and beef and hoisin sauce. His tastes, as you might expect, run toward the pedestrian, but even when he ventured out of his safety zone, he was not disappointed.

While there was no noticeable klinker among our dishes, there was no real star standout. That's the risk you take here, given that without a pro creating your meal, your food is in your own hands. However, precisely because it helps its customers all get to culinary success regardless of their skill, HuHot is the best execution of the Mongolian BBQ idea we've seen so far. The only one down on the deal seems to be poor Genghis, who never could have guessed to what marketing ends his legacy might be used.

Comments

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Boy, I just beat you guys to press on this one. ;)

My original title didn't make it through to print: "All the Mongolian you can hoard." Do people really not know the name "Golden Horde" anymore? What happened to American education?

Kyle, love that title & yes I would have known what it meant.

However the sub-title here confuses me, since I took it to mean a "bad" review, when it actually was a good review???

Bad luck, Genghis. Nice to have you on the show.

It's another cultural reference; it does kind of sound bad, but maybe it is bad news for Genghis.

when we were in Vancouver BC about 8 years ago these places were all the rage there. So were the outdoor heaters powered by propane. Now both are here. There the guys were often grilling in the window, so passersby could see them and be lured in. Haven't tried it here yet, but thinking now that your review was so glowing we'll have to try it. Wonder what is the current 'thing' in BC...

I like it too, but doesn't anyone else think their slogan "pillage like the Mongels" is a bit... i don't know... culturally insensitive?

Just ate at the one in Kenosha WI and it was a disaster. Dirty tables, no busers, food all over the floor, sauce bar was a mess, food being mixed together on the grill, grill scrapings missing the hole and mixing with people's food. The sauce bar design invites mass line cutting which irritates customers so much they talk about it in line, never saw our waitress again after being seated. Hope the Madison HuHot is 400% better than ours, it was beyond disappointing.

Ronald - sorry to hear you had a bad experience at HuHot of Kenosha. I hope you will find the Madison location to be a much better experience! Madison has been receiving great reviews regarding their customer service and actually won second place at Taste of Madison for their Cheesecake Rangoons!
Thanks for trying us out.

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