If you don't live in the MidWest, you may not know bd's Mongolian Grill. After talking to Dave Plancon, Director of R&D at this 35-location restaurant, I was wishing they had a location here in San Diego!
Before we get to know Dave, let's start at the beginning. For those not familiar with the concept of "Mongolian grill" restaurants, think of it as a sort of hybrid between a salad bar and a grill. At Mongolian style restaurants like bd's, you get to "create your own bowl" from a selection of uncooked proteins (meats, poultry, tofu), raw vegetables, spices, and sauces/sauce components. After personally making your selections, you take your pre-cooked concoction to a large grill, where a "grill master" cooks it in front of you. It's always fun to watch these grill masters at work creating your finished product, which you then enjoy with rice or noodles.
Those who plan ahead and like to figure out exactly what you're getting nutritionally from your meal will find that bd's website offers a terrific nutrition calculator. From http://www.gomongo.com/experience/create-a-bowl.php, click on "Create A Bowl" and have fun experimenting with adding and subtracting various combinations of ingredients and seeing how your choices affect the nutritional breakdowns.
If you like to eat healthy, Mongolian grills like bd's are great! You get to select/control the ingredients and the quantities, along with having the fun and challenge of being creative. Don't feel culinarily adventurous? No worries, Dave and the team at bd's suggest some tried-and-true combinations.
The most important thing to know about Dave is that he is a true artist. He experiments at home before bringing his ideas to the restaurant for a more formal vetting. This creative chef has even applied the Mongolian style concept to such cuisines as Italian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Spanish and Cuban! Dave loves serving up satisfying fare that his guests enjoy and return for.
When I had the opportunity to talk to Dave, he also shared some exciting things that bd's has planned for 2011. For example, they will be incorporating high-flavor rubs - which include ingredients like chili and cumin - onto the proteins to enhance the taste. I love the idea of using spices to add flavor along with healthy antioxidants! Bd's also uses rosemary, garlic, dill, Italian herbs, and ginger. Their goal is to reduce the sodium in their items (hurray, bd's!). They get another checkmark in my book for offering a brown rice option. Dave tells me that 50% of the rice served at bd's today is the high-fiber brown variety.
Have you tried bd's Mongolian Grill? What would you like to see from Dave and his creative culinary team in the future?