by Greca Durant
Highly recommended restaurants, cafes, pubs; fine dining in Ulaanbaatar, the coldest capital city in the world. Come and experience Mongolian hospitality.
Mongolia may evoke images of nomadic herders, endless blue skies, wide-open spaces, tranquil and pristine lake waters, snowy mountain ranges, horse wranglers and full-bodied wrestlers. Situated between superpowers Russia and China, the democratic Central Asian country of Mongolia has begun its upward rise. Sitting on the world’s biggest deposits of copper and other important minerals such as coal, gold, silver, and uranium, Mongolia is now a byword in global investment houses. Foreign mining companies are queueing up for mining licenses to dig at OT (Oyu Tolgoi), in the Gobi. Expat arrivals have increased, on a day-to-day basis, with families being transported to UB (Ulaanbaatar) from around the world.
One way of softening culture shock is via comfort food, but Mongolian comfort food means having several servings of khorkhog, buuz, khuurshuur, tsuivan, roasted sheep’s head or horsemeat stew. New arrivals, however, may not identify easily with these truly delicious but strange-sounding offerings. Don’t despair. Ulaanbaatar City abounds with superb restaurants, burger joints, cafes, pubs and hotels offering fine dining. Leading the bunch is Kempinski Hotel, on East Crossroad, Peace Avenue, Bayanzurkh District, which boasts a number of good restaurants like Sakura, for an authentic Japanese dining experience. The hotel also offers Sunday Brunch with bottomless sparkling red/white wine, hot and cold beverages. The Brunch costs Tugriks 38,000.00 (+-US$28.00, price as of July 2012).
Still in Bayanzurkh, behind the Wrestling Palace, one finds Hazara, reasonably priced, offering fiery North Indian cuisine, which one can temper down with sweet lassi. The restaurant boasts of friendly, quick service and lovely interiors.
Moving down Peace Avenue towards Sukhbaatar Square, one finds Central Tower, on the right hand side. This high-rise hosts some of the most luxurious shops in town such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Pierre Cardin. But there’s more. This is where one finds Monet on its 17th floor. A French fine dining restaurant, Monet is the elegant setting for foie gras, seafood platters, roast beef, fine wines and desserts and other special concoctions. Diners can observe the chefs busying themselves in the kitchen. Monet is also the place to go, to watch the sunset or to view UB by night. It overlooks Sukhbaatar Square. Next to Monet is Sky Lounge which offers live music. On the 3rd level, one finds Biwon, a Korean restaurant; Hanabi Teppan Dining, for Japanese food lovers, Square Grill Pub, for quick eats, and Bugis Coffee and Dreams, for pastries and brewed coffee.