Home » Bagana, Issue 5

Guide to UB: Late Night Eateries and Food

[4 July 2011 | Ес далан зургаа]

UB can rival NYC as “the city that never sleeps” (although we may come up short in the mornings because UB is virtually dead at 6 am). But there is plenty of action at night, even though the city tries (and magnificently fails) to enforce a strict 12 am curfew. As far as the nightlife goes, clubs may come and go, but a rite of passage for UB party people is the after-party dinner, or breakfast, at a 24-hour eating establishment. Here is our round-up of places to go after you’ve exhausted your feet dancing.

Mullebanna:

For several years now, the Metropolis crowd has frequented this Korean restaurant across the street from the Russian embassy since a hot kimchi soup is said to take care of an impending hangover. Although it is certainly not the best Korean restaurant in town (we think that title is reserved for Gyeong Bok Gung, next to the Circus), it is almost always open late at night.

Zochin Buuz:

If you tend to crave some nice, steamy buuz at odd hours, Zochin buuz is your best bet. In fact, a friend of mine swears by their Sambuu Street branch. Established in 2002 as a fast food cafe, Zochin buuz has expanded throughout the city, although lately they have been trying to aim for a more upscale feel. Khaan buuz is another alternative – we personally prefer the one across the State department Store.

Sansar Asian Restaurant:

If greasy Chinese is your thing, head to Sansar Asian restaurant. Last time we checked, their tomato and egg stir fry was quite good for a 3 am treat. They also serve Korean, so it can work as a compromise solution for larger groups. Mind you, they don’t allow smoking, which can be either good or bad, depending on your state of inebriation. Currently, Sansar Asian has two branches: one across the street from Sansar tunnel, the other one on Peace Avenue, near Centerpoint.

Shulundu:

This is a wallet friendly fast food restaurant frequented by partying students and late night taxi drivers. Their specialization: soup, hence the name. Shulundu also has several branches, one on Peace Avenue, one on Ard Ayush Avenue and one in Sansar.

UB Kebab:

UB kebab located near the Ministry of Finance serves Turkish kebab, American burgers, French fries and fried chicken, according to its lengthy signage. To tell you the truth, we haven’t been there, but a friend says their burgers aren’t half bad.

The concept of ordering food and having it delivered is relatively new for us. Hell, the concept of eating in a restaurant on a daily basis is new for us. But options have been expanding lately. We’ve picked out some of the more reliable ones.

Pizza:

Pizza, that delivery darling, has been gaining ground since mid 1990s, when Pizza della Casa began serving its cheesy goodness from a humble kiosk in front of the National university. della Casa (call 324114, 70134114) still delivers their more or less Italian style slices, although competition has been heating up. Mr. Pizza (call 332277, 1950), which basically introduced pizza to the masses through relentless advertising, attempts to go for a more American feel (even though their brand name seems to have been ripped off from a Korean franchise). Mr. Pizza delivers 24/7, and so does romano Pizza (call 50155917), which we feel is a better value. More pizza options: Broadway Pizza (call 333339), Pizza Pazza (call 77334400).

Chicken :

Back in the day, chicken used to be more expensive than red meat here in UB. Now, Tyson chicken is sold in every supermarket, and prices have gone way down: surprisingly, importing chicken from the States has somehow become cheaper than transporting beef from Arkhangai (on a side note, don’t watch the documentary “Food, Inc.” if you are planning on ever enjoying your chicken). Mr. Pizza has expanded its delivery options by offering a fried chicken combo quite aptly named Mr. Chicken. BBQ Chicken (call 313198), a Korean franchise claiming it’s the “best family restaurant in the world”, also delivers. Another option is Kenny Rogers Roasters (call 321999), their chief advantage being their addictive biscuits.

Indian:

Visitors are often surprised by the number of Indian restaurants in UB, considering we do not have a sizeable Indian population. Hazara (call 99195007), the long-standing Indian restaurant near the wrestling Palace, delivers from its eclectic menu of curries, kebab and tandoori options. So does Los Bandidos (call 314167), an Indian- Mexican fusion restaurant and another UB eatery with a long history. Taj Mahal restaurant (call 311009), located on the top floor of the Ulaanbaatar Hotel, delivers as well.

Mongolian:

Only in Mongolia can you get a roasted sheep head delivered, with a side of ribs and khuushuur. “Mongol” restaurant (call 88848484) manages to deliver such delicacies in a reasonable amount of time (as much as we were thankful for the prompt arrival of our sheep head, we must say that its presentation and packaging could use some upgrading). “Modern Nomads” chain (www.modernnomads.mn) also delivers, although their delivery area is restricted to the immediate vicinity of each restaurant.

Korean:

More than 35,000 Mongolians live and work in Korea, and Korean culture has taken us by storm. Housewives watch Korean soap operas, kids listen to k-pop, and everyone devours kimchi. UB is overrun by Korean restaurants, large and small, several of which make deliveries. Last time we were hungover, we made an emergency phone call to Sejun (call 91265000), a Korean restaurant at the Voyage hotel, and they promptly delivered some much needed soup. If they fall through, call an information service number, and ask for Korean restaurants that deliver.

UlaanBaatar Restaurants Recommendations:

“Nine Seventy Six” magazine caught up with a local foodie who runs the Facebook page Ulaanbaatar Restaurants and asked for recommendations. Here are Ulaanbaatar Restaurants’ top three picks. Since consistency is the key to success in the restaurant business, we’d like to highlight three UB restaurants that have managed to keep their food and service quality consistent over the years.

Indian food is famous for its rich flavor, and its taste is long known to UB gourmands. Delhi Darbar (Puma Imperial Hotel, call 313043) is a good place to satisfy your Indian food cravings. Chicken and vegetarian meals are highly recommended: try Butter Chicken and Jalfrezi Chicken. For a more complete experience, order garlic naan and linger over masala chai.

Millie’s Espresso (Marko Polo Plaza, call 99261550) is the place to go for the finest Roast Pork in UB – too bad it is served only on Tuesdays. The pork is excellent with a garnish of mashed potatoes and broccoli, and the roast pork Cuban sandwich is also very good. Come a bit earlier though, as Tuesdays are famous here. The place is better suited for lunchtime, though a bit pricey by UB standards, which means it’s usually filled with expats. Have Millie’s coffee after your meal, it’s a must; after all, Millie’s did start out as a coffee shop.

And finally, Korean food, which has become very popular in Mongolia… The No. 1 dish ordered is Kimchi Jiggae and the best kimchi soup in UB is at Gyong Bok Gung restaurant located next to the Circus. The soup is not too spicy, and its taste is not dominated by kimchi, so you can really taste each ingredient. The punchan or side dishes are fresh and tasty, and they don’t get stingy with it. The place is good for BBQ too, try Daeij Kalbi with fresh lettuce and garlic.

Honorable mentions

Cola & Kebab (call 252608): As the name implies, this place lives to serve soda and kebab. Their kebab is actually quite passable, rubbery taste notwithstanding, and is competitively priced at 3,500 MNT per kebab (a minimum order of 3 kebabs is required).

Uzbek Pilaf (call 300300): This place offers an ample serving of rice pilaf with choice of regular lamb, spicy lamb or curry chicken, which comes with lamb shashlyk, salad, bread and a box of juice. The pilaf may be a little greasy and the shashlyk a little tough, but the price is right for a party of 4 (the entire set goes for 21,000 MNT).



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