67-69 George Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 2AH. Phone: 01865 792919
FAX: 01865 792919. Info: Karaoke. Eat as much as you want per head for a certain amount of time during the evening. Traditional Mongolian restaurant and bar. „
We are all painfully familiar with the cliche that one gets what one pays for. I think this phrase was invented for the Mongolian Wok. Situated on one of Oxford's lest salubrious thoroughfares, complete with a panoramic view of the entrance of the coach station, it is not a place to which those seeking good food should go. There are two reasons for this: the first is conceptual; the second practical. The formula at the Mongolian Wok is that each customer selects the ingredients he wants to eat- various meats and vegetables- selects the requisite spices and sauces, and then hands it to the chef to be cooked. Here is where the problem arises, for the food is cooked on a completely flat hotplate. This means that an juices evaporate and have nowhere to collect, a fate also reserved for the sauces. Consequently the food one gets back is as dry as a bone, devoid of the succulent moisture one associates with good oriental food. The second problem is that the ingredients one is offered are invariably of poor quality, which makes the results even worse. The meat is always full of sinews, and the vegetables are hardly anything worth writing to mother about. There are two advantages to the Mongolian Wok however; relatively cheap cocktails, and low prices, which mean that those seeking simply to fill their stomachs rather than to excite and please their tastebuds should do well.
The Mongolian Wok bar is one of the most unusual restaurants in Oxford. It is the only DIY restaurant in the town, and you only have yourselves to blame if the food tastes bad! This is another of the George Street eateries (If you are hungry and in Oxford City center head for George Street). You can find it near Pizza hut, and almost opposite the Old Fire Station. It is quite a trendy looking restaurant both outside and in, with IKEA style lighting and deep purple walls. The menu is set price. The most you can expect to pay for your meal is £11 (This price does go up near Christmas). Drinks are not included in this price. You will find a selection of wines, cocktails and beers on the menu, as well as soft drinks like iced lemon tea. You are served a starter at your table; normally this is a small selection of dimsum with a sweet chili dip. Once the first course has been cleared away the waiter will bring you a large bowl of steaming hot rice, and here is where the fun begins. The whole idea of the Wok bar is that you make up your own creations and then watch the chef cook it on a huge steel plate while you wait. The wide range of ingredients is displayed in an open chiller (similar to the salad bar in Pizza Hut). You can follow any of the recipes provided or create your own. There is a selection of meats - chicken, pork, beef and lamb, squid and fish and a large selection of vegetables. Once you have chosen your basic ingredients, you then add the spices and sauces of your choice. The selection of these is almost as wide as the raw ingredients. When you are satisfied with your mixture, you hand it to the chef. He will throw it on the Wok and make sure it is cooked through. You are handed back the creation in a nice clean bowl, and you only have yourself to blame if it tastes awful. A point to note is that if you are vegetarian the chef will happily cook your meal on foil to ensure you have no contamination w
ith any of the meat dishes cooking on the plate. Newcomers to the Wok bar would be best advised to follow the recipes. A word of warning though. At busy times, there will be up to four chefs serving at the hot plate, and all the dishes have a tendency to taste the same! Once you are feeling brave enough to try your own dish, the possibilities are endless. However, the best bit is that you can go back as often as you like! The Mongolian Wok bar is great fun. If you fancy a different, kind of meal you should try it. The concept is not unique to Oxford, but it is certainly popular there. Check with the restaurant before you go if you plan to eat on a Friday or Saturday night. They seem more than happy to accommodate parties, so why not try it on your next work night out.