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Genghis Khan: The best of the best in Mongolian BBQ

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2003-11-09

For decades, there has been one Mongolian Barbeque restaurant that has stood out above the rest: Genghis Khan. If you are looking for Mongolian BBQ, there is no second guess. All others fall to the wayside in comparison. Genghis Khan has existed for nearly three decades and is about as close to a perfect family restaurant as can be found on Okinawa.

Genghis Khan has long been a favorite amongst locals and foreigners alike due to its positive reputation for serving huge quantities of food at minimal cost. The food is all-you-can-eat also, so no matter how large your appetite or how hungry you, you can eat as much as you’d like. The restaurant also has a helpful, friendly staff and a team of quick, talented cooks that are there to ensure you have a positive experience. Though the restaurant is often quite busy due to its popularity, the lines are occasionally long, but the wait to being served is fairly short.

If you’ve never been to a Mongolian Barbeque restaurant, you are missing out on some of the greatest food in the world. When you first enter the restaurant, a waitress will seat you and then usher you into a room with buffet tables full of various meats, vegetables, and sauces. Here, you should pick up your bowl and then mix and match the various foods to your delight. When you are satisfied, hand your bowl to one of the cooks and they will barbeque your food in front of you. A few minutes later, you’ll be presented with a steaming hot bowl of mouthwatering food. You’ll be dying to sit down and devour it! If you get too excited and scarf it down surprisingly quick, don’t worry. The barbeque is all you can eat, so go back in the food room and mix another bowl. Eat as much as you want. Unlike other less satisfactory Mongolian BBQ restaurants, you are not charged by the weight of your plate at Genghis Khan, nor are you limited to how much food you can take for yourself. The only requirement is that you take only as much as you can eat. Take-out is not allowed.


Genghis Khan’s history began 29 years ago when owner Michiko Tamamura went to Taiwan. She once worked for a furniture import shop that brought goods from Taiwan and during one trip she noticed that Mongolian BBQ, a style of restaurant that is quite popular in Taiwan, was her calling in life. She suddenly though, “This is what I want to do.” Tamamura was inspired by the amount of vegetables that were used at these restaurants and how healthy the food was. She came back to Japan and went to Taiwan again—this time with a team of workers for one week bent on studying the style of cooking. They then came back and started the first restaurant.

In the beginning, Tamamura did everything exactly as the Taiwanese, but over time she realized that it would be better to use Okinawan vegetables rather than importing from Taiwan. Her vegetables would be fresher, and she had more knowledge of the various seasons for the various Okinawan vegetables. As to the selection of sauces she offers, Tamamura says it took her about 20 years to finalize her decision, but adds that her selection hasn’t changed much in the past nine years. Over time, the setup and operation of the restaurant has been perfected, and Tamamura says that her customers’ health is the number one emphasis of the restaurant.

“Lately, Americans have been watching their health more than before,” says Michiko. “However, sometimes if a customer takes no vegetables, my motherly instinct comes out and I tell them to eat vegetables.” She says that this is because many of her customers are a long distance from home, and if these customers’ mothers could see them not eating their vegetables, they’d be upset.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is that the cooks always seem more like magicians than anything else. No matter what meats and vegetables I throw onto my plate, the chefs always turn it into a delicious meal. It’s mind-boggling. Mix and match meats and vegetables as you please—the chefs will no-doubt do a number on your dish that will surely leave you pleased.

At Genghis Khan, plenty of seating is available. All sizes of groups are welcome, and tables can be moved around to accommodate even the largest of parties. All in all, Genghis Khan is a winner. If you haven’t yet been here, go! The barbeque costs ¥1,450 for adults, ¥480 for children ages four to six, ¥730 for children ages seven to nine, and ¥1,080 for children ages ten to twelve. Soft drinks cost ¥100 for small size and ¥150 for a regular. Beer is available for ¥400 for Budweiser and ¥450 for Orion. Ice tea is free! If you’re still hungry after your meal, order a cup or cone of ice cream for ¥180.

Genghis Khan is open from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. The restaurant is very easy to find. If you are driving out of Kadena Gate 1, turn left onto highway 58. At the first stoplight, turn right. ACE Insurance, Pizza In, and Ichibankan Karaoke will be on your right. Go straight and turn right at the first possible right-hand turn. You’ll see Genghis Khan up ahead. Free parking is available in the dirt lot on your left right before you get to the restaurant.

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