Don’t be surprised if the staff at HuHot Mongolian Grill in Northfield Stapleton periodically breaks out into chants and starts fires. As a Grill Warrior purposely makes huge flames shoot up while flipping ingredients on the large, circular cook surface, she may shout: “How hot?” to which the other Warriors shout “HuHot!” It’s all part of the experience created for diners in the all-you-can-eat, create-your-own Asian restaurant.
This location, which opened in July, joins six others in the Colorado franchise with locations from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins. The concept, whose name comes from “Hohhot,” the historic city of Inner Mongolia in Northern China, allows diners to assemble their meal with the ingredients they want, returning repeatedly to try different combinations.
Kids up to age 12, who eat free on Wednesday nights, order from the “Little Warriors” menu. No TVs are in the restaurant, and beer, wine and sake are served from the back room—all encouraging a family-friendly atmosphere.
The full HuHot experience happens after guests are seated and the concept explained. They then head to the food lines, loading up a bowl with 8-12 proteins including chicken, pork and crab; three types of noodles including gluten-free and 16-24 fruits and vegetables. They add ladles of house-made sauces from the selection of twelve that range from the mild Samurai Teriyaki to the fiery Khan’s Revenge.
If it all seems overwhelming, recipe cards available at the start of the line suggest certain flavor profiles guests may prefer, guiding them to ingredients they should choose. Diners then take their bowl of raw ingredients to the Grill Warriors who, before their eyes, cook the food on a section of the shared cooking surface for 3-5 minutes before placing the completed meal on a plate.
The all-you-can eat format is a big hit with teenagers and their parents too, says Area Director Eric Gray. He adds that accommodations can be made in ingredients and cooking method for people with allergies— catering to food allergies, sensitivities and preferences is one of HuHot’s claims to fame.
He adds that the HuHot Mongolian Grill concept solves some of the most common guest complaints in the restaurant industry: 1. Being served hot food—it is handed to the diner immediately after being cooked; 2. Getting enough to eat – it’s all-you-can-eat; and 3. Getting what you ordered – the diner made it.
General Manager Chris Barkofske, who joined the company with the opening of the Northfield location, has appreciated the warm welcome he and the staff have received. From meeting diners, to giving to charity, to sourcing ingredients locally whenever possible, he says, “We’re totally about the people. Without the community, we don’t survive.