Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Genghis Did Not Conquer!

Laurie and I like to seek out restaurants that we haven’t experienced before.  So we had some errands to run and we thought we’d tie them in with a movie and dinner.  I figured that my choice for our meal was safe as they’d been in business at this location for more than a year…and besides, I had a ‘buy one, get one’ dining coupon!   
This Genghis Mongolian BBQ Grill in Knoxville Tennessee is part of a chain based in Dallas Texas.  As per the company website, these restaurants offer fast casual Asian stir fry foods in ‘an atmosphere that is colorful, lively and a lot of fun!’
Actually, we thought that the ambiance was plain…a bit industrial…and sort of beat up looking for having only been in business for a bit more than a year.  Fun…not so much!  This view is looking towards the ‘buffet’ line where you build your bowl of ingredients for your personal stir fry.
This is the grill area at Genghis.  You give your bowl of ingredients to the ‘grill master’ and he or she creates your stir fry meal on a giant grill…keeping the orders separate during the cooking process through the use of very large scissor like dividers.

There are certainly lots of ingredients to choose from.  You take your small silver bowl down the line and you choose whatever mix of ingredients you’d like.  Some guests just load up on meats and/or seafood.  Veggie lovers can stack up their favorites as well.  To provide an example of the wide variety of available items, here is a list of the meats…or proteins you can choose from: calamari, chicken, ham, Khans Krab, marinated fish, marinated steak, pepperoni, pork, sausage, scallops, shrimp, sliced beef and turkey.
From the Proteins, you move along to the Seasonings (12 choices); the Vegetables (roughly 30 items), and; Sauces (14 options ranging from tomato to honey soy)
Now about our meal… There were 4 ‘special’ summer appetizers offered.  You just order these directly through your server.  The choices included: Garlic Citrus Endamne; Lettuce Chicken Wraps; Summer Chicken Rolls with Peanut Sauce and; Chicken Potstickers.  As you can see, we ordered the Chicken Rolls.  We were thankful for the peanut sauce as these ‘rolls’ were gummy and the ingredients were tasteless.  The big plus was that they were inexpensive!
We forgot to take photos of our ‘stir fry’ entrees until after we’d eaten a good part of the food.  This was mine.  No flavor!  Had to add a hot sauce and some soy sauce to give it any ‘pop’ at all. 

Have I talked about our server yet?  Well, what can I say!  He was poorly trained.   His approach to both the food selection process, customer satisfaction and service was one of ignorance.  He was good spirited but fairly useless…
OK…its time for some positives.  The Genghis Grill website provides a calorie/nutrition calculator.  You can actually figure out the fat, saturated fat, sodium, etc. for your projected meal before you go to the restaurant. (Note: I ran the numbers on my meal when I got home. (The calories came in at 833, but the sodium came in at 2,201!) They may be trying to mimic Subway’s healthy food sales pitch with their Genghis Health Kwest.  Controlling what you select from the grill and eating in moderation would indeed help people lose weight. 
This was what was left of Laurie’s dinner when we remembered to take a photo.  She ‘hated’ her dinner…and as she told the Manager, when he asked if we enjoyed our meal, she ate it only because she hadn’t eaten all day and she was very hungry! Plus, she would never be back!   She had to add soy sauce to make this offering even eatable. 

Genghis does offer a series of 10 pre-designed meals for diners like Laurie who are unsure what to chose from the line…in her case, she didn’t want to choose items that wouldn’t work together.  So she decided to go with pre-set offering of #1.  Guess what?!  There were no ‘menu cards’ for offering #1.  They’d ‘run out of them’.  Our server’s advice was just take a little of this and a little of that and it would work out.  He didn’t have a clue and he didn’t really seem to care or think it mattered.
Genghis likes to use the term ‘Khanquered’ when referring to winning over new customers and/or a new market area.   We definitely weren’t conquered nor were we ‘Khanquered’!!
One other positive…Genghis has a full bar. 

So…if all Genghis Mongolian Grills were this bad, how has the chain grown to the point where they have locations in 21 states?  AHA!  There is the question.! I checked Trip Advisor…all Genghis reviews.  The worst average score I could find was for 3 other locations…with 3 ‘stars’ or an average rating. Our location hadn’t been rated on Trip Advisor.  I checked 2 other rating sites for the Knoxville location.  About half of the reviews, 9 out of 20, rated this location as poor or not acceptable.  Service was badly hammered and cleanliness/food safety were major concerns. 
FYI…By way of comparison, the Chattanooga location was ranked #36 out of 544 restaurants in that area.  Trip Advisor ratings for that location included 29 reviews, 25 of which were excellent or very good.  Given all of this rating information and combining it with our experience, I can only come to one conclusion.  Poor Management!  Oh, did we mention that the Manager didn’t ask us what was wrong or what could they have done to make our experience better?  He did say he was sorry we weren’t happy…
Should anyone be curious or brave, the Knoxville Genghis Grill is located at 11316 Parkside Drive in the Turkey Creek Shopping area.  Phone: 865-931-7208.  The company website is
 Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit! 
Take Care,  Big Daddy Dave


  1. Dear Dave, It is a shame that you both didn't enjoy your meals. I am glad that Laurie let the manager know. Blessings, Catherine

  2. Dave, my name is Chiara Granado and I am the social media manager for Genghis Grill. I am so sorry to hear about your experience at GG Knoxville. We definitely don't want this to be the last one you and your wife have. Can you email me your contact info @ and we'll reach out to you personally. We have also forwared your blog post to our owner and operator as well.