I have to say I had my doubts heading into Genghis Grill, a fairly new Mongolian-style build-your-own-bowl restaurant here in Gainesville (it has locations in most of the southern states, excluding Alabama, which is, presumably, not a fan of Mongolian food). Doubts about the cleanliness of the big ol’ grill, doubts about the staff’s ability to tell me what was in one of the place’s 15 or so sauces…Plus, the rows of the raw meat, chicken and shrimp take some getting used to.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised with the whole experience.
Here’s a breakdown of my gluten-free adventure at Genghis:
-No GF menu, but there’s really not much of a menu at all. You must choose with your eyes and tastebuds. But when I walked in, the hostess table had a huge sign that said “Please tell your server if you have any food allergies.” Good sign.
– Once I chose the $8.99 Buildyourown Bowl (only $2 more for bottomless), I did inform my waiter of the gluten issue. He told me to tell the cook, who would make special arrangements to cook my food in a “quarantined area” away from the other, evil foods.
– Waiter also informs us to pile the food high. I do my best, but the lady next to me with the giant mound of marinated steak has clearly done this before. “Do veggies first,” she says. Next time…
*Side note: I wouldn’t touch the marinated steak – soy sauce is lurking.
– This being my first time here, I go a little crazy: Sliced beef, shrimp, bay scallops, cabbage, carrots, onions, pineapple, squash, Cajun seasoning, garlic citrus seasoning. I have no idea what this is going to taste like, and I still haven’t picked a sauce.
-The sauce. I ask an employee if he happens to know which sauces are GF. He looks terrified and runs for the manager. Manager kindly informs me that the dragon sauce, sweet and sour, and roasted tomato sauce are OK if I can handle corn starch (I can). Happy with my straightforward answer, I load up on dragon sauce.
-Get to the grill, where a man asks what type of allergy I have. He writes “wheat” on a card, I ask for steamed rice, and my food is whisked away, presumably to a clean, No-Gluten-Allowed Wok. It never touches the big ol’ grill.
-Food comes, and somehow through all the guessing (and pineapple!) I’ve managed to come up with something delicious, and my mind is at ease knowing the care that went into it.
-For next time: the menu had not just one but several gluten-free dessert options, including gourmet Asian ice creams in green tea and red bean flavors.
-$14 (with tip) for lunch may be a bit much, but it’s perfectly reasonable for dinner. And it seemed like a great place to take your parents when they come to
check up on you visit.