Mongo: The Mongolian Fire Pit & Bar is putting a new spin on traditional Mongolian eateries, owner Aaron Zhu said. He and his business partner, Jason Chen, have turned the traditional cuisine into a fusion experience, offering a combination of Chinese, Japanese and even American menu items.
“Normally, a Chinese restaurant is just Chinese. A Japanese restaurant is just Japanese. We added sushi, and we’re starting to add some American items as well,” Zhu said. “If an American store can have Asian food, then we can have American food.”
Zhu is Chinese and Chen is of Mongolian heritage, he said. The duo has made some changes since taking over ownership of Mongo from a friend in 2013. While the focus is always on the food, Zhu said Mongo's atmosphere is what makes his restaurant stand out.
“We have different specialties, but people can come here and have [variety] and still have a good time,” he said.
Zhu said he came to the U.S. from China in 2000 and immediately jumped into the restaurant industry.
“I like computers. That’s what I studied when I was back home [in China]. Chinese society [in America] is often in the restaurant business,” he said. “Ever since I got here, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve been doing this more than 15 years.”
Having worked in different types of restaurants representing several different ethnic cuisines, Zhu said he was able to take that experience and put it into Mongo.
“I’ve worked in Chinese restaurants, Japanese restaurants and even worked at McDonald’s and other American restaurants,” he said. “Now [at Mongo], we’ve tried to put all of those ideas together and come up with something better.”
Better is key to Zhu and Chen. The two have worked to make sure the atmosphere is fun, but the quality of the food is also top-notch, Zhu said.
“I noticed in a lot of Mongolian restaurants, the ideas are very similar,” he said. “But a lot of those places we would try, there is no quality.”
Zhu said he is mindful of the healthy lifestyle trend, and he wanted to make sure Mongo reflected that inclination to a more health-conscious life.
“People these days live a better life,” he said. “They want a better quality of life. So healthy [food] was the first thing we had to worry about.”
The solution to that was simple, he said. Zhu and Chen are able to show customers how healthy the food is by allowing each patron to fill bowls with what they want before it is cooked in front of them in an open-kitchen concept.
“A lot of restaurants, you don’t really see the ingredients in the kitchen,” Zhu said. “Here, you pick exactly what you want to be in your food. We don’t add anything else but water.”
Mongo: The Mongolian Fire Pit & Bar
11200 W. Broadway St., Ste. 400, Pearland
Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.