12 Maiden Lane, London WC2E 7NA
Bookings: 020 7379 7722
Type: Mix of countries
The concept for this chain of restaurants apparently originated in the battlefields where after a hard days fighting Mongolian warriors would ‘stir fry’ chunks of food on their massive battle shields. A huge steel griddle has thankfully replaced shields but the idea remains the same. You simply fill a bowl with raw fish or meat, pile on an assortment of vegetables and sprinkle liberally with a variety of spices and sauces and hand over to an obliging chef who will attentively griddle your concocted menu in about three minutes. You then repeat this process as many times as your imagination or stomach will allow. The restaurant is surprising small only seating about 80-100 diners so at weekends its best to book ahead. Functional design gives it a Harvester like ambience, which is not a bad thing as it’s definitely a place to take the kids who might be scared of breaking precious artefacts. Great for office parties, birthday do’s and kids parties (aged 9 plus) not a place for cosy tête-à-tête dining.
Décor: Warm, bright, tables were on the small side for family eating. Corner tables were cramped and too close together.
Ambience: Inviting entrance helps create a sense of informality and relaxation. Serviceable design well suited for families and kids and lively work colleagues who may have had a drink too many.
Quality of food: Don’t expect haute cuisine; go for the unusual experience of creating your own menu. Fish combinations tastier than meat dishes although beef strips were particularly tasty Vegetarian options limited, more of an afterthought.
Starter: Choice of three standard soups, best option is the beef with soft rolls.
Main course: Unlimited helpings at £12.95 better value than single. (£7.95). Choice of three meat and three fish and seafood dishes. These can be combined with about ten types of vegetables and about ten spices and sauces. My best combination was salmon and seafood mixed with water chestnuts, bamboo, peppers, sprinkled with desiccated coconuts and hot spicy sauce. Menu will suit meat and fish lovers alike.
Dessert: Amaretto ice cream was delicious as was the cranberry crumble. My son was not overly impressed by the mandarin cheesecake, which tasted as if it had just come out of the freezer.
Wine: House wine £12-15. Most types of wine though not an extensive list. Opt for the Mongolian if you are a beer drinker.
Service: Laid back, waitresses constantly forgot which table they were serving. (Hopefully just and off day).
Average price per head (inc wine): £20-£25. Kids from £4.50
Other facilities: No non-smoking area.
Wheelchair accessible although manoeuvring round tables would be difficult.
Child friendly: Yes, kids can choose their own portions.
Overall: 7/10 (Service 6/10, Food 7/10 Ambience 8/10)