Little Mongolian Grill
By Morgan Legel
One of Guam’s newer restaurants, Little Mongolian Grill in Yigo, has persisted through the Coronavirus pandemic, after opening its doors on Nov. 11 last year.
Co-owners Sarah M. Camacho and Roseanne S. Baris first leased the Northpoint Building property in October 2019. Little Mongolian Grill is located in the same shopping center as KFC and It’s Me Time Nail & Beauty Salon.
While the original idea for the grill’s menu shared much with other Mongolian restaurants around the globe, because it was a self-serve model, changes had to be made to account for the health and safety of all diners due to the pandemic.
“Our initial plan was to have a self-serve station; however, things had to change,” Camacho told the Journal in an earlier interview. The solution was to open, offering only single-bowl takeout orders, which customers help to build with their desired ingredient combination, but never touch ingredients. There was one server dedicated to hand-picking the items and one cook grilling them.
The menu includes protein, vegetables, sauces and spice options. In detail, that includes proteins like beef, pork, chicken and some seafoods; vegetables like cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms and jalapenos; 15 to 20 sauces including a basic soy sauce and an oyster sauce, as well as house special sauces like a Mongolian barbeque sauce; and spices like salt, pepper and lemon pepper will all be available for custom bowl builds.
“We now have an updated menu at which we added a set breakfast menu that consists of rice bowls: Mongolian beef, teriyaki chicken, teriyaki spam, Portuguese sausage, spicy sausage and loco moco,” Camacho says.
“All rice bowls are topped with a sunny side up egg or egg of your choice. Our lunch and dinner menu has also been slightly updated to include a wider variety of vegetables and house sauces.”
The Little Mongolian Grill currently is offering take-out, delivery through Grab N Grub and dine-in at a limited capacity.
How would you describe Little Mongolian Grill to someone who hasn’t been and is not familiar with the premise of such a restaurant?
Camacho: At Little Mongolian Grill, you can create your own stir fry with the assistance of our servers to help you choose fresh ingredients from our cold food bar. One plate consists of noodles or rice stir fry, one choice of protein, adding your favorite veggies, selecting your sauces and spices and watch our cooks grill it for you hot and fresh on a Mongolian grill. All meals include one scoop of rice and wonton crisps.
What is Little Mongolian’s main customer base since opening?
Camacho: We have diverse groups of customers from all walks of life — families, couples, singles, military personnel, law enforcement, even residents from down south that come up to check us out and our customers tell us that the kids love it too.
What are some challenges you have faced throughout your time as a restaurant on island?
Baris: Our target opening date was delayed for several months due to our current pandemic situation; our food bar buffet set up was revised to single take-out meals and a more limited menu; our dining set up is already very limited, but we were limited even more due to the COVID-19 occupancy, as well as the numbers of staff allowed to operate in the establishment. We are doing all we can to ensure safety measures for our guests and employees.
What are some lessons you have learned since being in operation?
Camacho: Patience and consistency. Do everything in good spirits and with a great positive attitude, especially during these times to put a smile on our guests faces.
How has your business performed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
Baris: We are just glad to be operating. We have our busy days and our slow days. We do what we can to ensure customer satisfaction with the limited staff we have. We all help each other and ensure we go home safe to our families.
What does the future for Little Mongolian look like?
Camacho: We are both hopeful and looking forward to growing our food bar and expanding our restaurant whether it’s into a larger location or a second location on island.