If I were to make a wordle of my actions in Chicago bike riding, street roaming, garbage digging and going to class would probably show up the biggest. It seemed like everything was always go, go go (except for those moments that me and the Blue Kangaroo spent together). To keep that pace up, I needed to frequent foodstops that served decent food quickly and cheaply. Most of the time this meant corner burrito shops, Chipotle, deep dish pizza factories or diner style all night joints. But every once in a while I would get into the stir-fry mood. When that happened, Flat Top Grill was my go to destination. Flat Top Grill is a build your own stir-fry place where you fill a bowl with veggies, choose a meat and sauce and then give it to a cook to make for you. I had completely forgotten about the concept of build your own stir-fries until, a few days before Thanksgiving, I strolled into Genghis Grill in Carrollwood.
Upon entering J-Fur and I were greeted by a very personable server. She asked if we had been there before. When we said no, she took us on a tour of everything we would need to make our experience pleasant. She explained all about the process, pointed out tried and true recipes that are recommended for those who have no idea where to start. She also explained the various colored sticks that they have for cooking vegetarian and vegan dishes. The stir-fry chef use different tools and a spots on the grill when working with special dietary situations like those. She then gave us a bowl to fill as we saw fit. I filled my bowl with tofu, onions, spinach, green beans, potato and carrots. I tried a number of different sauces before settling on the Chili Garlic. I also added some brown rice as my starch. Just a note, some of the sauces are not vegetarian as they contain shellfish. Most contain wheat although there are a couple that would work for a gluten free diet. I’d recommend checking the website before your visit because it has a great break down there.
As I waited for my stir-fry, I checked in on Yelp. This unlocked a coupon for a free appetizer. The garlic citrus edmame sounded amazing (especially after the garlic version we had at Takara Sushi a few nights prior). It arrived quickly.
Garlic Citrus Edmame
I have to say, I’m glad the edmame was free. It was overcooked and under spiced. There wasn’t much flavor and it sort of just mushed into my mouth. I was extremely disappointed that something with so much potential fell flat. It was not a good first impression. Next up, my stir-fry.
My Build-Your-Own Stirfy
I was quite pleased with the way the stir fry looked upon arrival. It seemed to be browned and crispy with a nice glazing of sauce. I was a bit worried because the rice, while looking nice and soft, had no sauce on it. I feared a dry, under flavored dish. I stirred the veggies and rice together and took a bite. The vegetables were nice and fresh. The rice seemed perfectly cooked. But, as I feared, the sauce didn’t resonate throughout. Thankfully the server had loaded our table with soy sauce, hot sauce and Sriracha. With a few drops of these, everything was fully functional and flavored. From that point forward, I was pleased.
Overall, Genghis Grill has a lot of good to offer. There are a ton of fresh vegetables to choose from, a number of flavorful sauces and you can dress it up how you like (fried rice, brown rice, white rice, udon noodles, pasta or a tortilla). It allows for customization and has a lot of meat options for those into eating dead stuff. For those who aren’t, they are very accommodating. The waitress was extremely helpful and kept checking on us throughout the visit. Unfortunately the one bad is a huge one. The dishes I tried on this visit seemed to be a bit lacking when it came to flavor. The stir-fry is understandable, we all like it different, and I was able to fix that with the condiments on the table. But the edmame? Wow…not good. Here’s to hoping it was just a bad day in the kitchen.
Will I visit again? I’m not sure. Tampa lacks a lot of real good places for big piles of sautéed vegetables and rice. I do like that about Genghis Grill. But I want my food to have a bit of pizzaz and flavor. Genghis does not do that.
The soundtrack for the day was “Jetzt Und Heir” by King’s Tonic: