A sign on the sidewalk lured a stream of people into the restaurant: “MONGOLIAN BARBECUE, Lunch Special $5.99.” Inside, a bustling waitress guided hungry patrons to a table stacked with 3 different bowl sizes. The smallest and most shallow bowl was the $5.99 lunch special and the price increased accordingly. Opposite the bowls was a smorgasbord of frozen raw meat, coiled into cylinders and a variety of fresh chopped vegetables, all leading to a table of liquid seasonings. Some people methodically proceeded through, carefully selecting their desired ingredients. Others rushed through, knowing exactly what they wanted. Some carefully mounded foods into their bowls while others heaped their bowls, like towering skyscrapers balanced precariously on tiny bases. A few people even went as far as to compress the contents of their bowl with the heel of their hand so there was no air pockets or space between the frozen coils of meat and vegetables. Heaping and stacking was an art form here, as was the thinking that “more is better”, but that is not always the case.
The chef took one heaping bowl at a time, spilling the contents onto a large hot cooking surface. The food sizzled and popped as steam danced up and fragrances wafted through the restaurant and outside. Once cooked, the food was transferred onto plates and not the original bowls they came from (although that would have been highly entertaining!) The tasty concoctions brought a variety of comments from patrons. Most said their meal was delicious. Some said it was too salty. Well, that’s where the ‘more is better’ does not apply. As tempting as it is to heap, pile and douse to get the most bang from your buck (value for your dollar!), it seems that the bang was more on the taste buds, having taken away the enjoyment of natural flavours. The joy of anticipation and creation was lost to the exuberance of indulgence! When is too much, too much??!, I ask!