At Brainerd's newest Asian-inspired restaurant, customers are more than just consumers. They are also chefs.
"You create your own dish," said Chao's Mongolian Grill manager Jimmy Chang. "You pick the meat or seafood, your favorite vegetables, a sauce, spices and we stir-fry it all for you."
He said he and his brother who also co-owns the new restaurant located at 5726 Brainerd Road wanted to bring a new style of food to that side of town. Customers work their way through counters laden with a wide selection of protein, vegetables, sauces and spices, selecting the ingredients the restaurant's staff then cooks on a large, round grill with the customer's choice of starch.
"We wanted to do something different," said Chang. "Nowadays there's so many restaurants in Chattanooga, so many styles. But we've had a lot of first-time customers who've never been to a Mongolian-style grill before."
According to Chang, the beauty of a Mongolian grill is the way it allows people to pick and choose the things they want in a dish and try different flavor combinations. He said some of the most popular sauces have been teriyaki, Mongolian and bourbon.
"I really like the kung pao sauce and [I] add chili powder," he said. "It has a really strong flavor."
Currently, customers are limited to what they can fit in their bowl from the wide selection of buffet choices, but in the future Chang said he would like to add some more appetizers, soups and other menu items to the restaurant's options. The former owner of a successful Asian restaurant in Hixson, Chang said he closed the other restaurant so he could help take care of his mother.
Chao's Mongolian Grill is named after her and he said he hopes the restaurant's success will bring her good luck and continually improving health.
Since opening two months ago, Chang said the restaurant has been especially popular at lunchtime. Lunch bowls cost $7.95 and dinner bowls cost $11.95. To-go orders are also available.
For more information contact Chao's Mongolian Grill at 553-1128.