Chang’s Mongolian Grill
by Rainbow Bobbins
Background: I love places where you get to assemble your food and have it cooked for you. Better yet, cook it yourself like you do with Korean BBQ. It is fun and proactive. I first heard about Mongolian BBQ 3 years ago and I always promised myself I’d check out Kublia Khan’s in San Francisco on Polk Street – a place I’d heard about but never actually spotted. One time I stumbled across a place in Daily City but it was closed. Thanks to D, I’ve finally got my Mongolian BBQ. Whew.
Typically when headed north on the I-5 I blow right past THE CLUSTER known as Jantzen Beach. But, on tip from D, today’s journey took me to the land of strip malls with skanky outlets, fastfood stops and acres of parking lot. Nestled in the heart of this cluster off the I-5 is a hot, round Mongolian (really?) grill cooking up a hodgepodge of veg, meat and sauce. You really can’t go wrong at Chang’s and if you do it’s your own fault. This is an assemble-your-own type of joint. Just belly on up to the buffet and load up a bowl with raw meat (choices range from beef and lamb, to cod and shrimp), noodles, veggies and a variety of liquids to make your own sauce. And when I say sauce I mean sauce, pools and pools of oyster juice, sugar water, ginger, sesame oil that you pour on your solids in good faith. Okay, so you got your bowl of raw meat and veg –now follow the heat wave to the large convex wok manned by Mexicans with spatulas and scrapers – these boys will be cooking up your concoction and handing it back to you on a plate.
Say your mix is off, no worries, Chang’s is all-you-can-eat. My tips: use lots and lots of sauce and steer clear of the sesame seeds which tasted a little rancid. Once you’re back at your booth a waiter will come by with those moo-shoo pork type of wrappers and some rice. Tons of fun. Chang’s itself draws a diverse crowd and the night we went I saw a large Mexican family, a butch dike couple, two black men eating alone, a table full of fatties, a bored old white couple, two hot cheerleader types and a Filipino girl in a wheelchair. Add the end of the meal they serve a little dish of vanilla soft serve. All this for $10 a person.
Chang’s at Jantzen Beach Shopping Center