Who says you have to be Chinese to make good Chinese food?
At the Mongolian Chinese Restaurant in Abu Dhabi, the chef is Indian – but he sure knows how to “tingle your taste buds” with a good meal of Asian food.
Sudis Rana, originally from Calcutta in the eastern region of India, came to Abu Dhabi to cook his specialty, Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine. Rana learned from Chinese chefs working in hotels in India beginning at age 14. That was 30 years ago.
Today, Rana whips out wonderful chow mein, stir fry, and Asian-style barbecue dishes that are just about as authentic as you can get.
“Anybody can eat my foods and they’ll be satisfied,” says Rana. “Anyone can eat with us and find happiness.”
Rana also knows how to really turn up the heat with chili peppers, if customers ask for them. He starts by preparing a separate chili hot sauce that he can add to individual plates according to taste and preference.
To make this hot sauce, first he takes several long, dried green chili peppers. Then, he boils the chilies, drains the water, and grinds them into a pepper paste, which he puts in the oven.
“Then I add oil, and cook it for around 30 minutes so all the water will be dry. And the paste thickens,” says Rana. “That’s when the flavor gets good.”
Rana also adds salt, sugar and vinegar to taste.
The process is fairly easy to reproduce. But, like all flavorful hot sauces, It takes time to get it right – especially for drying the chili peppers.
Rana’s result is perfection, especially in the Mongolian-style sizzling hot beef, the restaurant’s specialty and one of the most popular dishes. Its thick brown Chinese oyster sauce has hints of plum and freshly-diced green chili peppers. The same goes for the Mongolian Special Chicken, a tasty poultry dish which comes in a spicy hot orange sauce that has a serious kick.
Mongolian Chinese also serves excellent steamed dumplings packed with beef, chicken, and/or shrimp. They look like oversized shriveled wantons, and these fist-sized beasts are quite filling, chewy, and ideal for munching as an appetizer or even a full meal.
Other dishes are good, except for those on a diet.
Broccoli bean curd with bean sprouts, described by waiters as a ‘vegetable dish’, is more of a thick stew of corn-starch heavy white Chinese sauce. Yes, there are a few vegetables in the dish, but not many.
The bottom line: Mongolian Chinese isn’t the healthiest choice for food in Abu Dhabi, but it’s fresh, tasty, and definitely one of the best take-outs in town.
Mongolian Chinese Restaurant: see the menu
Address: On the corner of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum (2nd) Street and 17th street in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Telephone: +971 2 4480843