Mongol Cafe (formerly Let's Jam Cafe) -- San Francisco

I posted about Let’s Jam Cafe and my disappointment with a bland Tsuivan (Mongolian noodle stew) just 10 days ago. Since then Let’s Jam has come out of the closet as a Mongolian Cafe, and now simply identifies itself as “Mongol Cafe” on its exterior signage.

I returned to check out the Buuz (Mongolian steamed dumplngs) and was not disappointed this time. Ten large hand-formed steamed dumplings, served piping hot, enclosed savory, coarsely ground beef and a bit of rich “soup.” It was a twenty-minute wait for them, mid-afternoon, but worth the wait to have something made to order; anyway, I’d nowhere to go on this pleasant June afternoon.

It’s good that two casual Mongolian food venues, one on either side of the Bay have come out from hiding in plain sight on both sides of the Bay. Let’s Jam/Mongol Cafe and Asian Grill/Togi’s have enough dishes in common to give us the opportunity for comparisons. I intend to take full advantage of it.

It looks like their buuz have relatively thin skins given the heartiness/coarse chopping of the filling, as they did at Mongol Xool. It seemed like kind of an odd combination to me, but really liked the lamb juices.

Any idea whether they serve that full menu all day? We are suckers for places that open early.

I took an order of buuz to go last night and they were still tender and juicy when I got home 20 minutes later. Souperman’s photo either makes the buuz look small or mine were over-sized versions–they were humongous! Otherwise they were ashoped: juicy, meaty, and oniony. The skin is tender and not overly doughly, and the filling has a rustic feel with the coarsely chopped meat. The buuz took more than 20 minutes to make (I was told 20) but I was happy that were steamed to order. Someone ate a full order of the huushur in the cafe and the plate looked massive and smelled like fried goodness.

My side salad was potato (the only option an hour before close) came with the satisfying addition of soft carrot pieces, chopped pickles, and were studded with some sort of cocktail sausage.

The couple working there were sweet and spoke halting English. Their son kept them company by watching cartoons. I’ll be back for freshly the fried huushur.

That is how mongolian buuz should be :wink: with very thin dough and hand chopped coarse lamb or beef. Traditionally we don’t use utensils to eat buuz. You pick it up with your fingers. Since the dough is very thin it tend to fall apart if you use fork.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold