The thing is, as much as the false advertisement gave me goosebumps, I realised that it could have been much worse than horse meat. It also made me realise that I wasn't particularly bothered, as I had eaten stranger on my first visit to Khublai Khan's two years ago.
My ever faithful dining partner Stevie and I ventured to Khublai Khan's last night, longing for a variety of peculiar meats to try. Khublai Khan's is set in Merchant City, and is a whole world away from what you thought you knew!
What is Khublai Khan's all about, I hear you cry. Well, it is a Mongolian barbecue restaurant, offering a wide selection of exotic meats, vegetables, spices and sauces which allow you to create your own concoctions to eat.
The restaurant is rather informal, decorated with pictures of Mongolian warriors and stone statues of the same description.
The photographs aren't great, as my trusty camera had a bit of a diva fit. There is a huge mural on the walls of Mongolian warriors charging into battle. The ceiling is painted dark blue and covered with stars, and there is also a mock Great Wall of China separating the dining area from the barbecue zone. Very creative, but it doesn't take itself too seriously, so that you can have a relaxed and fun meal.
I really love the fact that you get involved with the compilation of your dinner. Instead of having to ask for more or less of something, you choose absolutely everything, right down to the sauce. I'll take you through it picture by picture, to show you how awesome it is!
Firstly, when booking, you decide what type of meal you are going for - the full feast is what I have done twice, and is what I recommend! This includes a starter, unlimited visits to the barbecue, and then a dessert. The menu has all of the starters and desserts written in genuine Mongolian, if you're brave enough to attempt pronunciation! I started with 'Ni Ho', known to the contemporary Brit as smoked mackerel pate with cheese and horseradish shortbread. Stevie went for 'Khoor Shoor', also known as cumin flavoured minced wild boar, served in a crispy pastry parcel with hot and sour sauce.
|Smoked Mackerel Pate with Cheese & Horseradish Shortbread|
|Cumin Flavoured Minced Wild Boar, Served in a Crispy Pastry Parcel with Hot and Sour Sauce|
So, once our starter plates were cleared, we were told to head up to the barbecue once we were ready. The words barely escaped our waitress' lips before we had shot out of our seats! I'll take you through, pictorially, how to create what will be one of the best and most entertaining meals you will have...
Step 1 - Take your little red counter from your table, pick up a bowl, and fill it (with just a wee bit!) of rice or noodles:
|The Bowl/Noodle/Rice Station|
Step 2 - Choose from an array of raw vegetables, should you wish to have them at all:
|Vegetables from all over the globe!|
Step 3 - This is the scary bit...Choosing your desired meat! They have a board up, containing dialogue boxes describing the meat that correspond with trays kept in a chiller cabinet. So you see:
|Meat descriptions, corresponding to the chiller cabinet directly beneath it.|
Step 4 - Create, concoct and master your own sauce. Choose from spices, seasoning, sauces and oils:
|Sauces and seasoning - choose to add as much or as little as you want|
If you don't have that creative itch about you, or you fancy playing it safe with ingredients, Khublai Khan's have a massive board placed above the sauces. Each sauce can go with any meat or seafood, however they are labelled if they do compliment a certain choice of grub. There is a spoon/ladle with each, and you just follow the instructions on the board, or heap as many ingredients, in whatever increment, as your heart so desires.
|Inspiration and guidelines for sauces|
You also have a paper place mat form of this information on your table, so you can peruse what takes your fancy before you even begin!
Step 5 - Leave your counter and bowl on the wooden counter so that the chef can cook it. The chef cooks the dishes on a massive hot plate, which is inspired by the legend that warriors cooked what they had hunted on their up-turned shield. (You can stand and watch the chef at work - it is fascinating! Where else do they cook your food with a sword?)
|The hot plate|
Once your food is cooked, you take it away with you (if you choose to stand and watch) or it is served to your table, if you wanted to go and sit down. I will take you through the delicious designs that myself and Stevie came up with - hopefully to inspire you to visit!
|Foxy #1 - Horse Meat|
To be a part of the media scandal, I decided to go for horse first. I constantly chose noodles, as I am not a massive rice fan. For my sauce, I mixed chilli flakes, garlic purée, Thai mix, paprika, tomato and herb sauce, chilli sauce and a dash of lemon juice. It was amazing, but really spicy! Be very gentle with the chilli sauce...
|Stevie #1 - Kangaroo Meat|
G'day Skip. Well, he was Skippy. To flavour young Skip, Stevie added five spice, chilli flakes, coriander, paprika, garlic purée, salt, garlic oil, chilli sauce and soy sauce. So spicy that it made Hell itself look like a Scottish Winter, again I must advise that the chilli sauce and chilli flake combination is not for the faint hearted! If you fancy trying Stevie's fiery concoction, may I suggest a toilet roll in the fridge...
|Foxy #2 - Mixed Game|
I love rabbit, pheasant and venison so mixed game seemed like a fabulous choice. I coated mine in a sauce called Gordy's Gourmet sauce, which is a pre-defined meat dressing on the board. It was a bit too salty for me personally, and not rich enough. The ingredients are: mixed herbs, black pepper, five spice, garlic purée, cumin, sesame oil and soy sauce. I preferred my own little cauldron of sauce that I created, personally!
|Stevie #2 - Zebra|
It's a rather strange one, especially after watching the film 'Racing Stripes' and loving zebras. The meat is truly delicious though, and I would seriously recommend that you try it. Stevie added bamboo shoots, ginger, garlic purée, chilli flakes, lemon juice, garlic oil, soy sauce and a dash of sweet and sour sauce. Very Chinese themed, and he thoroughly enjoyed it!
|Foxy #3 - Zebra|
The sauce that I made for my zebra dish is the sauce that I used for the remainder of my meat-eating adventure. I added Thai mix, dessicated coconut, paprika, turmeric, garlic purée, soy sauce and coconut milk in to this, and fell in love. It was absolutely delicious and so packed with flavours that I was enthralled with every bite!
|Stevie #3 - Mixed Game|
Stevie went for mixed game after I had raved about it! He followed the sauce recipe for the Mongolian's Barbecue, however said it wasn't to his taste and was slightly overpowering. That is to his personal taste though, and remember that you can amend any of the sauces to your hearts content!
|Foxy #4 - Springbok|
|Stevie # 4 - Springbok|
Delicious and flavoursome meat, with a delicious and flavoursome sauce. I was really starting to feel so full at this point, but needless to say my bowl was emptied and scraped for the dregs! Springbok is like steak, but somehow it is better. It really just is. I urge you to try Springbok if you like the thought of something different, especially if the likes of ostrich just isn't for you.
|Foxy #5 - Wild Boar|
I was going strong, and decided to end my barbecue tirade with Wild Boar. I was hoping for Ostrich, however they hadn't finished preparing it to be served. Wild boar is lovely, and is one of the safer, less adventurous choices. Lovely texture and bursting with flavour, it was amazing and I would like to eat more of it. Stevie also ordered a fifth dish, but he let down the side by finishing with chicken... and he calls himself a man!
What I really love about Kublai Khan's is that if you created a sauce that you absolutely love, and have faith in, you can let them know about it. There is a comments card on your table that allows you to enter your sauce into a competition. I entered mine, aptly named 'The Fox's Feast' - let's hope if you visit, that you can try my very own creation!
We were full. Burst. Aching. Then of course, we were reminded that we had dessert, and a little bit of room magically freed itself. We both took one look at the menu, and knew what we wanted - 'Kit Chee', known fondly as Mars Bar cheesecake.
|Mars Bar Cheesecake|
I can hand on heart, swear to the Lord and cross my heart that I thought this was the best cheesecake I have ever had. The mascarpone cheese was blended with whipping cream, Mars Bars and extra chocolate, yet was still so fluffy and light. The biscuit base was crunchy, crumbly yet melted in your mouth alongside the creamy topping. Drizzled with toffee and chocolate sauce, then garnished with little slices of Mars Bar, it was so rich and fulfilling. I cleared my plate as much as I could without actually licking it.
My only disappointment, and it is a very, teeny tiny one, was that the service was rather slow. The waitresses were polite, friendly and oh so lovely. Even the chef stood and chatted to me about his job, about the restaurant, and was really friendly and funny. However, it did take a good while for our secondary drinks to come, and as the night went on, it took longer for our food to be served - our last bowls took approximately 15 minutes to come! The chef did offer a genuine apology for this, which I duly accepted, however I do think it was a noteworthy gripe.
So, for two full Mongolian Feasts - which included a starter, unlimited barbecue trips and a dessert - and four drinks, the bill came to just over £40. I find this to be an amazing value for money, it's something a bit different to try and it really is entertaining too.
Tel: 0141 552 5646
Wheelchair Access: Yes