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Friday, Dec. 28, 2001
It should be noted that only the insane work on Christmas Day.

So, count me among those heading well north of the dementia pole.....

But in looking around I realize that as of yesterday we have actually completed two projects and are looking at one to go. Yes, the Taiwanese Restuarant in the strip mall (better known as a Mongolian Barbeque) has reached its' just and final end. Corporate partner and good pal Stu and I were reaching that aforementioned state of insanity in trying to get this place opened by Christmas, failed, rallied, slam-dunked and settled for New Year's.

The Mongols would have been pleased to be opened at any time. They're not in any particular hurry. So pleased were they with our efforts that they invited us to a taste testing, a soft opening night at the restuarant. We looked rather askance at the empty beer units but agreed to give it a try.

Lo and behold the stuff is rather tasty. You start at one end of a U-shaped buffet counter (beautifully done in tasteful Corian by yours truly, thank you very much) with a bowl, ladling in vegetables at first, then a selection of rolled beef or turkey or pork, then a selection of sauces. When finished, you hand your bowl to the grille man who proceeds to dump the contents onto a table sized flat grille and proceeds to slide it around with three foot long chopsticks. Once heated, it goes back into a bowl and is presented to you with a slight bow.

That, of course, is how it's supposed to work. They hadn't counted on Stu and I being in line together. And remember, these same grille guys are the Mongols who entertained us so thoroughly during the construction process.

Stu was as unfamiliar with the food prep deal as I was. We were both in the train of thought that putting vegetables into a bowl can only mean one thing - a salad. Having meat as a salad selection? Well, okay, you only go around once, and this is a free dinner. He was looking in vain for the ranch dressing when the Mongol cook snatched the bowl from his hand with a peculiar grin.

Stu: "Hey! Gimmee that bowl back! No wait, don't dump it on the grille!"
Mongol Cook: "Hee hee hee, lang duk no sabby Stu poo wang......."
Outfoxed: "Gee whiz, you don't think he's trying to tell you something there, do ya sport?"

Both of the Mongol cooks made a show of tossing Stu's broccoli and beef high in the air, with giggles and many incomprehensible comments our way. They yanked my bowl and heaved it on the grille as well, dancing about the flames like so many Iroqouis at a scalp party, cleavers flailing and making gutteral cries.

When finished, the steaming contents of our bowls were presented with deep bows and (I swear I'm not making this up) hands folded together. And a glance toward the beer pitcher stuffed with dollar bills. A rather long and pointed glance, I might add.

Stu sighed, hauled forth his bulging wallet and tossed in a five-spot. Being the good guy I am, I followed suit. The Mongols began bowing again, rapidly and in perfect unison.

After several minutes of returning bows and making gestures suggesting eating with bare hands we retired to our table and were beseiged by the Mongol waiter, who brought soup and bread and yaks milk and hey, a couple of frosty Heinekens!

The anxious owner directed her work force from a spot near the kitchen, and sighed with relief when Stu and I ate with relish and drained Heiney's with great abandon. I'll tell you, it was all very good. Although if the beer hadn't shown it would've been rather unsettling, if you know what I mean.

We toasted the owner and her success. We toasted the cooks and their skill at waltzing about a sizzling wok. We toasted our obvious glee at having had a chance to make it all happen with a lot of long hours and hard work and problem solving. We toasted the inevitable, that we were well on our way to being pretty well toasted ourselves.

Ah, to be in Mongolia on a summer's day, when the yaks are fat and the Heinekens are cold.

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