Make it as healthy as you want at Mongolian Grill

By By Ken Stickney / American Press

I visited Great Khan Mongolian Grill not out of curiosity but because I was familiar with the restaurant. A work friend brought

me earlier this year; I’ve been a dozen times since, mostly for lunch. I’m a fan.

Here’s the upside, in short form:

• I have it my way. I choose a base for my bowl, then select from many choices in meats, fish, vegetables, sauces and spices. You leave your raw

materials in the bowl for the chef, who grills it up.

I want it healthy, and get it that way. You want it healthy? Load up on veggies. Need some substance? Options include chicken, fish, beef and pork. But you can be

as healthy as you choose. The older I get, the healthier I choose. Most of the time.

It’s quick and clean. The wait staff has always been helpful, the restaurant has always been clean despite periodic crowd surges.

I most recently tried the Mongolian

Grill twice in two days. I visited with Eric Cormier, our in-house food

expert, and we

sampled the Shaggy Dog, a great appetizer with shrimp tempura and

crabmeat, spicy mayo and siracha sauce. Eric thinks about

his food longer than I do; if I think it’s good, it’s gone. Eric,

though, pondered the platter and declared the offering “fun”:

The rice was chewy, he said, but Southwestern Louisianians would

be familiar with crab and shrimp and would like it. I liked

it, even at $10.95.

On Day No. 2, I accompanied two

co-workers, one of whom was a newbie to the Great Khan. I opted on this

day for a brown rice

base and went heavy on seafood with a touch of chicken, spurning

the red meat altogether. Unlike Day No. 1, when I chose a

heavy dose of green vegetables, on Day 2 I went lighter on the

greens. I selected an orange sauce the first day, a sweet and

sour sauce on Day 2.

Each meal served its purpose. The available choices at the meat and vegetable bar offered myriad options for mixing and matching

food groups. And no two meals need ever be the same — unless you decide they must be. Every diner is in the driver’s seat.

There is no reason to dally at lunch:

Take your bowl, make your picks and head for the grill. You can get in

and out of the

restaurant in 30 minutes, if need be. On both recent visits we ran

into small problems. On Day 1, Eric and I requested a specific

dessert selection — it was one of four offered — only to be told a

couple of minutes later that only two options, neither

of them the one that we had selected, were available. We chose a

second time, and were told within short minutes that no dessert

options were available. Bummer. I’ve tried the ice cream desserts

before and loved them.

On Day 2, my meal in the preparation was separated from those of my dining mates, meaning my lunch was served several minutes

later than theirs. It was a rare occurrence, the first time it had happened in all my visits there.

Nonetheless, the atmosphere is bright and cheery, with lots of sunshine streaming through the windows and ample personable

help. And what’s not to love about that large mural depicting a Mongolian warrior attack? Makes me hungry.

Lunch prices are reasonable; even with our extras, Eric and I dined for $33.70 on Day 1. By using a newspaper coupon — why

don’t more restaurants offer those?— Day 2 cost $16.87 for myself and one colleague.

Eric offered me a copy of his 2010 column, when the Great Khan opened. It was “cool,” he wrote then, “just a fun place to

eat at.”

Still is.

If you go

• The Great Khan Mongolian Grill is located at 1740 W. Prien Lake Road, Lake Charles.

Hours are 11-9:30, Sunday through Thursday; 11-10 Saturday and Sunday.

Contact 337-477-1377 or