(Steven Lane/The Columbian)
Why: Yummy Mongolian BBQ is the newest of three Mongolian grill restaurants owned by Jonathan and Angela Park. Two are in Vancouver and one is in Portland.
The restaurant offers a traditional Mongolian grill experience wherein diners collect their ingredients buffet-style, compound a sauce, and then present them to be cooked on a super-hot, gigantic circular grill.
Atmosphere: The space, former home of the defunct Hazel Dell Brew Pub, has the same stone and green tones as before, but some lighter, warm colors have been added, as well as the necessary functional improvements. Seating consists primarily of tables and chairs, which can accommodate small or large groups, with a few booths along the window and back wall.
What I tried: My dining companion and I combined several vegetables with the thin-shaved meat. I chose chicken and he decided to try the beef. At the sauce bar, I mixed the Mongolian sauce with sweet-and-sour, then added both sesame and hot chili oil, along with pepper and a touch of salt. My dining companion opted for an olive oil and sherry wine sauce and then added some teriyaki sauce and peanuts after his selections were grilled.
The grilling produced tender vegetables and meat. The sauce ingredients I had added to mine delivered an appetizing, lightly browned, caramelized result — bringing out the best in the mushrooms and carrots. My dining companion's plate more resembled a stir-fry because he included noodles with his ingredients.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: In addition to many vegetables, meat choices include shrimp (at dinner), calamari, pollock, beef, chicken, and pork. Pre-made items are also included in the all-you-can-eat price, and include sweet biscuits (like large doughnut holes), wonton chips, honey wings, soup and rice. Sauces include sherry wine, soy sauce, black bean sauce, lemon juice and oyster sauce.
Other observations: If you can whip a stir-fry together at home without any particular recipe, you ought to do pretty well at Yummy, but don't be shy when you get to the sauce bar. Be sure to add at least three scoops of sauce and one scoop of oil to each bowl of ingredients; otherwise your creation will likely be too dry — the grill is extremely hot and the liquid from the sauce dissipates fairly quickly.
If you are lost as to how to concoct a sauce, a suggestion board will help you mix a tasty invention.
All-you-can-eat cost: Lunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday) is $7.95 per person; dinner (all other hours, including weekends) is $10.95. One kid who is 9 years old or younger can eat free with each person who purchases a meal.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: 8513 N.E. Highway 99, Vancouver.
Health Score: Yummy Mongolian BBQ received a score of 26 on Oct. 7. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or more. For information, call 360-397-8428.