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“Casual Dining - Mongolian - Chinatown, DC”

Tony Cheng Mongolian Restaurant
Ranked #822 of 3,323 Restaurants in Washington DC
Price range: $0 - $20
Cuisines: Asian, Chinese
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Reservations
Neighborhood: Downtown / Chinatown
Reviewed July 12, 2013

I finally made it to ‘Chinatown’ in Washington, DC this summer. As we were traveling on foot, my friend – a lifetime resident of the DC area – suggested that we try Tony Cheng’s Mongolian Restaurant. I like Mongolian Barbecue as much as the next guy and it was convenient, so why not give it a shot.

The restaurant, located on ‘H Street NW’, is easily recognized by the ornate façade advertising both a seafood restaurant and Mongolian barbecue. The restaurant is upstairs while the ground floor houses the Mongolian Barbecue.

Having eaten at both chain and independent Mongolian restaurants, I have grown to appreciate the differences. While the Chang operation does hold several restaurants, this is an independent operation, and that is reflected in several ways. To begin with, pricing is set at $17 per person for ‘all you can eat’. Now, if all you CAN eat is one well-apportioned bowl, yes it is an expensive proposition. Allegedly, five bowls is the record, whereas my friend and I agree that we over-ate at the end of two bowls and two beers apiece. In addition to your build-your-own bowl, rice and pickles (e.g. sweet cabbage, carrots, etc.) are served, not enough to offset your bowl, but enough to offer a different flavor and texture. And the meal is capped by a simple serving of ice cream.

At most chain Mongolian BBQ restaurants, the vegetable options are almost like a salad buffet, with everything from peas to eggs to cauliflower. At Cheng’s, however, there are about one dozen items to choose from including sprouts and cabbage, and what I would term ‘spaghetti noodles’ – with four different meats available (lamb, pork, beef and chicken…with shrimp available @ $2.95 extra per bowl) . I am not sure how someone of the vegetarian bent would embrace this, as it seems like a limited variety of vegetables to work with. Fortunately, I am not vegan, so I compensate for the limited variety of veggies by adding various meats. At most chain restaurants the guide is to ‘veg up’ as much as you want, but restrict your meat selection to one item. That is not the case at Tony Cheng’s. Add whatever combination of meat to your bowl as you would like.

When it comes to selection of sauces, you have about eight or nine options. My palette is not so sensitive to detect slight nuances in blends, so I opted to let the chef make the decision for me. If you do not want the chef to concoct in his opinion, you need to speak up and tell him to use only what you have already added to the dish. If you do not speak up, the chef has a tendency to adjust it to his liking, – which, dependent on your palette – may be too hot or spicy. As always, tip the guy on the grille, about $1/bowl is the expected rate.

When we at there, we arrived right around six o’clock on a Tuesday evening and were only two of about eight patrons. However, by the time we left, which would have been close to eight o’clock, the restaurant was full. I mention this because, although it’s ‘self serve’ for the main course, the waiter ensured we were never lacking for side dishes (rice & pickles) or libation.

All said and done, I gave the restaurant four stars, primarily for the flavor of the food, attention by the wait staff (not helicoptering and not invisible either), and pricing structure. That being said, I would point out that dinner was two men with voracious appetites, who do enjoy their food. If you are more of a ‘one and done’ type consumer, you will probably find the $17/bowl a bit expensive, as this is around twice what one would pay at a chain restaurant. I would recommend this restaurant should you be in Chinatown and looking for a nice dinner in a casual environment. We did not dine in the upstairs restaurant, so I cannot speak to the quality or ‘authentic’ elements of that menu.

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1  Thank deanrob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 11, 2013

The food is delicious. They walk around with dim sim carts, and I strongly recommend the pork, as it is a sweet flavor that melts in your mouth. The sesame chicken (which is what I get at every single Asian restaurant) is probably the best I have ever had. It is crispy, not too saucy, and the taste is incredible. The fried rice is delicious as well. The only thing is, it's in China Town. The problem with China Town? The parking is god awful. The restaurant though is beautiful, and for those who don't know, you have to walk UPSTAIRS to get to the restaurant.

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Thank Josh B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2013

We ate at Tony Cheng's Mongolian BBQ early on a Friday night while in DC. I love Mongolian BBQ and always jump at the chance to eat at one. I liked the veggie variety but would have enjoyed snow peas or snap peas. They also had meat choices. I had chicken and beef in my dish. The grill master scooped in a dipper-full of each "sauce" and then grilled my dinner.

The meat was disappointing. The flavor/sauce was mediocre. I went back for a second dish but opted for veggies only.

They include a plate of vegetables, peanuts, and bread on each table. The vegetables were soaked in a vinegary mixture that I did not like. I found the peanuts just plain bizarre.

After dinner we were given a tiny little cup of vanilla ice cream and a wet washcloth to wipe your hands. The washcloth had an "old-lady" smell to it.

I won't be returning.

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Thank AmyTravels720
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 29, 2013

We went here for dinner, not really knowing what to expect, and were pleasantly surprised. Although the decor was dated, the food seemed fresh and was a good value if you're hungry. There were about a dozen types of veggies and four types of meat to go with noodles. You can either build your own sauce from ingredients or have it made for you. They cook your noodles as you watch on a huge, hot, flat topped grill. The all you can eat fixed price included bread, rice, and small cups of really good strawberry cheesecake ice cream. The food is ready quickly, so it is a good option for people getting off the metro nearby. A service charge was added to the bill for our party of five, which seemed odd. If you like, you can also order from the menu upstairs, which may be your best bet if you are not very hungry.

Thank David9T4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 23, 2013 via mobile

Arrived at 11:00pm on a Sun, we were told we had to finish by 11:45, ordered too much for 4 people, 1 dish is enough for 2 people, so so food! It came very quickly, nice waiter kept filling our glass with water, apart from him, guy at front of house was stern and abrupt, as for the waitress her parting comment on her way out was " we are closing" as she passed us with a rucksack over her shoulder, looking back as she got to the door to give us a filthy look, we only had a drop of wine in our glasses left, all dishes had been cleared, we'll never go back. You would think making $140 in 45mins they would have shown us some courtesy.

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Thank VonnySouthYorkshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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