Mongolian Grill/Barbecue/Hotpot (1961)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Sep 7 19:57:08 UTC 2002

At 1:25 PM -0400 9/7/02, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
>    I'd posted an article about this phenomenon from a Hawaiian
>publication, about 1965.  Despite the claims that "Mongolian"
>cooking goes back to Genghis Khan, the 1965 article said it was
>"new" and "from Japan."

This sort of dish is very popular among sumo wrestlers and their
devotees in Tokyo, and I assume elsewhere in Japan.  It's really the
only thing I found anyone eating there that seemed at all fattening.
My hosts did accept my suspicion that it was associated with a
Mongolian origin, but it also seems to have become very assimilated
to Japan.  I forget what the Japanese term is for, essentially, (what
we call) Mongolian Hot Pot, but the restaurants that serve it aren't
Chinese restaurants as such.


>    Here's more, from NEW YORK TIMES full text.
>    26 October 1959, NEW YORK TIMES, pg. 32:
>    "I particularly enjoyed a Mongolian-style meal, which I suppose
>is not strictly Chinese.  It reminded me of the Swiss fondue dishes.
>You cook the meat yourself at the table and then dip it into some
>wonderful sauces.  The meat is generally mutton, which is not very
>common in CHina."
>    6 April 1961, NEW YORK TIMES, pg. 38:
>_Director Stages Dinners in an Oriental Mood_
>(Picture, then this photo caption--ed.)
>Joshua Logan, the well-known theatrical personality, has spent
>considerable time in Japan and enjoys cooking oriental food
>specialties.  One of his favorites is a Mongolian grill,  which he
>is shown preparing on hibachi in one-room converted barn on his
>Connecticut property.
>    He was particularly fascinated by the Chinese restaurants in
>Tokyo, which he thinks are the finest in the world outside China,
>and by Mongolian restaurants, which, according to him, are to be
>found in every Japanese metropolis.
>    "They're easy to find," he said recently, "because most of them
>are known as "Genghis Khan.  The grills in the restaurants are
>generally curved, helmet-fashion, the original idea being that the
>Mongols used their metal headpieces for cooking."
>(A recipe for "Mongolian Grill" follows--ed.)
>    9 December 1968, NEW YORK TIMES, pg. 56:
>_Tokyo's Restaurants: You Don't Have to Know the Language, but It Helps_
>(...)  The food at the Chinzan-so is of the sort known as
>Genghis-Khan, and it is outstanding if you like grilled dishes.
>They say this kind of cooking has been popular for centuries; since
>the days of the Mongolian king when his tribesmen cooked meat on
>their preheted helmets.  There are individual metal grills at each
>table fired by gas jets.  Waitresses in modern dress preside over
>the grilling ceremony; the foods, grilled to perfection, dipped in a
>sauce made with soy and condiments, are served directly from grill
>to plate.

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