So Genghis Khan, the happy little fella from Mongolia you might have heard about, is understood to have uttered long ago that "the greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters".
OK, right then...
...Well you'll be glad to know that this kind of warm & welcoming approach to life certainly appears to have left its mark on Glasgow, example number one being Merchant City's Khublai Khan's Mongolian barbeque restaurant.
Now don't get me wrong there - I'm sure most of the folks who book a table here will have spent the day raping & pillaging whole villages, you know the thing, cleaving armies and children to death on horseback, but don't worry, it's not a prerequisite. If all you've been doing is a just bit of light shopping or sight-seeing, maybe a little deskwork during the day, you'll still fit right in and enjoy your time in this place, even factoring in that it's clearly been inspired by the cuisine of cut-throat warriors.
The unique selling point of Khublai Khan Glasgow is the Mongolian barbeque feast. To give you a small flavour of history behind the feast, Khublai Khan (well, I've also seen it expressed as 'Khubilai', 'Kublai', or even just 'Kubla'), was the grandson of the fearsome legend Genghis Khan, the founding father of the largest contiguous empire in history. Khublai was the Mongol emperor of China from 1259, and amongst other great feats was responsible for moving the capital of China to Khanbalik, or 'Cambuluc' (now the site of Beijing), hanging around with a young chap called Marco Polo while he was at it.
There are accounts that during this time, when they came to eat, the marauding warriors fighting to expand the Mongol Empire would tenderise their meat under the saddles on their horses, then with swords slice their meat, and with a combination of vegetables, aromatic oils, herbs & spices, would cook their meals on their shields over a naked flame.
Yup, I know what you're thinking - aside from the yucky meat under the saddle thing, this could very well be interpreted as having been the origin of the BBQ. But that's a story for another time!
All you need to bear in mind is that it's this nomad tradition which has been reflected in the feast you'll experience in Khublai Khan Glasgow. None of yer polite silver spoon service - as I explain below, you just muck right in with whatever meats & flavours you like and it's cooked before your very eyes, and with the chatty staff, the Mongolian musical ambience and the liklihood that you'll find yourself having friendly conversations with absolute strangers about what to put into your bowls, I guarantee that if you want something different from your average evening meal, something more than just good food, this is the place to come.
Unsurprisingly, this place features in my Wee Glesca guide to the City, which you can download or pick up today.
The only thing missing at Khublai Khan Glasgow is the yak's milk, but as always, I suppose some beer or wine'll do instead!
Me shaking the hand that feeds me!
It's one of the most basic, most pleasurable forms of dining as far as I'm concerned.
The idea is that first of all you choose your starter. This could be anything from wah ho (Ostrich enchiladas smothered in cheese & crème fraîche), to gansukh (roasted yak ribs in a lip-smacking BBQ sauce) or some outstanding hovsgol (fish balls in hot yellow bean sauce with a creamy chilli sauce, the traditional Asian snack served on every street corner east of the Bosphorus).
Once you've downed tools after the starters though, that's when the experience really kicks in!
You'll head round and grab a silver bowl. You'll fill that bowl with rice or noodles. Then you'll add on top pretty much any vegetable you like, including water chestnuts, mushrooms, carrots, peppers, onions. Honestly, the world's your oyster. Or vegetable...
...You'll then move onto your choice of meat or seafood. Oh boy!! There's chicken, lamb, beef, mussels, wild boar, venison, springbok, kangaroo, ostrich, zebra, shark (v. popular so get in there first!), prawns, crocodile, and probably even more that I just can't remember.
Once you've chosen, you'll just plop however much you want of it into your bowl, remembering the chef's tip that you shouldn't mix the meats etc. as they cook at different speeds (and also my own tip that you shouldn't put too much in your bowl, as you'll want to leave enough room to allow you keep going back up to the BBQ for more!).
Then comes the fun part. You'll see that there's a dizzying array of herbs, oils, sauces and spices laid out before you, and if you really like, you can just dive in and fill your bowl with whatever you want. To be honest though, if like me you're not that sure of your mixing & cooking antenna, it'll probably be more beneficial for you to work off one of the dozen or so recommended recipes on the wall.
The grill chef hard at work with my creations!
So for example, once I've collected in my bowl all the rice or noodles, vegetables & meat or seafood, I could choose to flavour everything with a ruby khan, which is a medium curry. And to make it I'd follow the recipe on the wall which will tell me to put into the bowl 1 cup curry sauce, 1 cup tomato & herb, 1 cup garlic oil, 1/2 spoon turmeric, 1/2 spoon cumin, and 1/2 spoon coriander.
Or I could go for the more fiery dragon's breath (only for the brave!) and fill my bowl with 1 cup chilli sauce, 1 cup tomato & herb, 1 cup garlic oil, 1/4 spoon chilli powder, and 1/2 spoon garlic purée.
One of the most popular receipes however, has to be the kani mak mi swally it (which using Glasgow patter is roughly translated as 'you cannot make me swallow it'!), and it's made up by putting in 1 1/2 cups cajun, 1 cup tomato & herb, 1 cup olive oil, 1 spoon paprika, 1 spoon garlic purée, and 1 spoon oregano.
So as I say, there's a huge variation of ingredients and flavours you can plop right into your little bowl, and once you've done the prep, you just pass it to the grill chefs who'll teppan-yaki it on a hot plate, and once cooked, fire it back into your bowl for you to enjoy.
The whole experience lends itself to fantastic table conversation, and as I mentioned before, when you're up trying to work out what you want to put in your bowl, you'll end up chatting to other folks up there with the same quandry, so it really ends up being a sociable, uplifting evening.
And then the desserts!
If you've heaved your way through as many turns up at the Mongolian barbeque, be sure to leave even just a slight bit of room for the desserts. It'll be worth your while, let me tell you! Whilst there's plenty on the menu to grab your attention, my own favourite has to be the yum tum, a circular white chocolate cheesecake made to absolute perfection. However, also worth a try is the ulan gad, which is a brilliant little vanilla crème brûlée.
Finish all that with some green tea and as I suggested at the top of the page, you'll be talking about your evening at Khublai Khan Glasgow for years to come.
The Mongol Warriors? Erm no, just John, Dad, myself and Steven!
Khublai Khan Glasgow is located in Candleriggs at the hub of the Merchant City area.
It's surrounded by a great number of brilliantly unique bars and clubs, so you really can make a good night of it by starting here and just hanging around later.
Click here to get all the contact details you need to find Khublai Khan Glasgow, and there's a wee map there as well. To be honest though, if you can find your way to the Merchant City and have a nose that works, you'll have no difficulty finding Khublai Khan Glasgow!
Please let me know if you've any need for directions however, and I'll try my best, although you may find that to make sure you get there without getting lost, I'll convince you to invite me along!
As I said, the contact details for Khublai Khan Glasgow are on the link above, but if you can't be bothered and just want to pick the phone up straight away, all you need to do is phone .
So I hope that I've got you drooling even just a little over the thought of eating out at Khublai Khan Glasgow. And if after your last bite you end up moving on later to kill every living thing that crosses your path, well, I'm sure the owners' work will have been done!