This Quezon City Resto Is Bringing Back Mongolian Barbecue
Choose from over 60 ingredients!
UG/F Robinsons Magnolia, New Manila, Quezon City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) If samgyupsal is today's feast du jour, in the '80s it was all about Mongolian barbecue—a dish that ironically isn’t Mongolian, nor directly involves barbecue—but instead refers to a build-your-own stir-fry where you select from a plethora of ingredients and have it cooked for you on large round griddles. Though it isn’t as popular today as it once was, one newcomer is bringing it back under the spotlight: Bad Bowl, a recently debuted Mongolian barbecue establishment by chefs Kel Zaguirre and Kevin Sanchez. Walking into the restaurant feels like stepping into a cabin, with wood on the walls, ceilings, and tables. There are pops of teal from the plates and the kitchen tiles, adding an especially cozy feel.
Located at Robinsons Magnolia, Bad Bowl boasts over 60 ingredients, ranging from vegetables, meats, sauces, and toppings, which you can mix and match to create your own Mongolian bowl. Each unlimited run goes for P450/person, complete with soup and fresh fruit for dessert. Setting them apart from other Mongolian spots, aside from the massive quantity, is the quality of the ingredients—the vegetables and seafood, in particular, are sourced locally and are uber-fresh. Moreover, their in-house chefs are there to actually guide you achieve the results you’re after. “The thing that destroyed Mongolian cuisine was [when] the guest puts just any sauce they want, then it ends up too salty or walang lasa,” Chef Kevin explains. Here, they’ve got professionals who know the right amounts of the right sauces to put, and who adjust the seasoning accordingly to ensure you end up with a balanced bowl.
Fancy a rice-dominated bowl? They’ve got brown and white rice—or you can opt for adlai for an extra nuttiness. Prefer noodles? Take your pick from hofan, sotanghon, egg, and even low-calorie shirataki noodles. They’ve got a wide selection of vegetables that includes mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, bean sprouts, cauliflower, and more. For meats, you can choose from chicken thigh or breast, pork belly, pork loin, beef belly, ground Angus beef, or ox tongue; and for seafood, there's tuna, dory, squid, mahi-mahi, salmon, and shrimp, plus kani and lobster balls.
The sauces range from General Tso’s sauce, teriyaki sauce, sambal, Mongolian sauce, and more, and you can add toppings like fried shallots, peanuts, or heck, even chicken skin. Those on specific diets—whether it’s #keto or veganism—are all welcome here. You can go the healthyish route by piling on the veggies and choosing the more fibrous starches, or go for an all-meat bowl instead. There’s really no right or wrong, and you can have fun experimenting with different combinations.
Bad Bowl also offers hearty Chinese-Filipino fare which you can pair with your Mongolian bowls, if your stomach can still handle it. The Braised Beef Short Ribs w/ Bone Marrow & Tendon (P580), in particular, is worth saving stomach space for, with tender beef and bok choy braised in a soy-anise base. The Lemon Chicken (P340) features crispy fried chicken thighs in a sweet and tangy lemon sauce. They also boast a great rendition of the classic Crispy Pork Knuckle (P790) that’s crackly-crisp on the outside and flavorful on the inside.
The thing about Mongolian bowls is that you’re only really limited by your imagination. Whichever direction you choose, Bad Bowl is there to help make your bowl the very best.
Photos by Jilson Tiu