Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar is a growing city. There are a lot of construction activities. New roads are being built. A number of public infrastructure are also being planned. In a few years, Ulaabaatar will look totally different.
The city square is particularly charming. Surrounded by Soviet-style architecture, the new government building sits imposing before old and new structures. At the middle of the building is a huge Genghis Khan statue as seen in the collage above. At the center of the square is another important monument, that of Damdin Sukhbaatar, after whom the square was named. Just beside the square is the Central Tower.
On Central Tower’s second floor is a restaurant called The Square Grill Pub which serves really good Mongolian food. If it’s Mongolian food, there’s bound to be meat, a lot of meat. Seriously. Beef and lamb are staple in Mongolian dinner. Served in large chunks with the bones, they are best liked when grilled. The serving size is a big surprise. But what’s a lot more surprising are the stones that come with the meat. It was said that the stones were part of the grilling process.
What’s with the stones? The stones are picked up while hot and are passed from one hand to the other. One stone for each diner. It is customary. It is said that the heat and healing properties of the stones improve circulation.
At the penthouse of Central Tower is another restaurant called Monet, after Claude Monet the French impressionist painter. Monet, obviously is a French restaurant. It’s interior is classy and contemporary. It has a wide selection of wines. Being a restaurant at the heart of Mongolia, they must serve meat. Very good meat.
Monet’s New Zealand lamb chops is served with sidings and sauce. It is heavenly. The kind of food that makes a diner say, “I should have met you before or I wonder how I survived without you.” Right. That’s an exaggeration. But the point is there. The lamb chops in Monet are really good. If you don’t believe, go there. It would only take you around 10 hours flying time from Manila to Beijing to Ulaanbaatar. Filipinos don’t need visas to Mongolia but need transit visas through China.
Caveat: don’t try driving in Ulaanbaatar. Traffic and traffic discipline from drivers and pedestrians alike are not as good as their meat.
Gratitude to friend Urga for showing Mongolia’s culinary tricks. Urga is a Mongolian who sounds like an American. She is the nicest socialite in Ulanbaataar. It was a luck that she happens to know every somebody in Mongolia.