3.315 P31bO/Mongolia(15): Khuushuur

-Cycle 3, Item 315-
15 (Thu) November 2012

P31bO/Mongolia(15): Khuushuur


at Kargo (World Food Land)

-Suwon, GyeongGi-


Mongolia is the 15th consecutive country to be featured in the on-going Project 31 By Origin (see previously 3.314 P31bO/Singapore(14): Black Pepper King Crab).

Much to my surprise, Suwon has an international food court.  World Food Land comprises a collection of restaurants from 6 countries: Bangladesh, China, Mongolia, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.  It's located in the basement of Suwon Yeokjeon Sijang (수원역전시장), a large indoor market across from Suwon Station.  Partly subsidized by the municipal government, the ostensible objective is to promote multiculturalism in the city, though whether for foreigners or for locals is uncertain.  Either way, nobody seems to care; upon my visit, the restaurants were largely empty, some of them with lights dimmed, one of them closed (Bangladesh)--reportedly, random closures are common.  Still, its very existence is intriguing per se.

I had to request for the lights to be turned on. 

For strategic reasons relating to P31bO, I went with Kargo, the Mongolian joint.  Having done zero research on Mongolian cuisine, and seeing that the menu was written in Cyrillic with vague descriptions in Korea, I asked the server to bring me anything authentically Mongolian and preferably good.  She brought me the khuushuur, a deep-fried flat dumpling filled with minced lamb and onion (see generally Wikipedia on khuushuur).  It was actually pretty good, especially the wrapping, which was both crispy and chewy.  The filling was passably tasty if a tad gamy.  But the portion was quite generous, 4 dumplings each the size of my hand.  Not bad for 7,000 won.  The large can of Borgio, a Mongolian lager (see main photo above), was light and unremarkable.  5,000 won.  When I inquired about several dishes with the thought of ordering them to go, I was told that almost everything on the menu was unavailable because the small customer base didn't justify keeping the ingredients on hand, which in turn surely wouldn't encourage much repeat business, a vicious cycle.

What will keep me from visiting again was their refusal to accept payment by credit card.  I experienced something similar at an Uzbek establishment during Cycle 1 (see 1.160 Manty); in response to reader Gustaf's comment about keeping away from Central Asian restaurants in Seoul, I was careful not to generalize, but maybe it is in fact a trick that they've oh-so-cleverly figured out will increase their margins by savings on bank commissions or government taxes, not realizing the fallout from customers who won't return as a result.  This time, the guy behind the counter pointed to the server and claimed that she'd dropped the machine while drunk--she did smell of vodka--forcing me to go upstairs and outside to withdraw cash from an ATM, resulting in a fee of 1,200 won.  Although I could've just walked away without paying, I went back.  I didn't, however, purchase the bottle of Mongolian vodka that I'd selected.  When I gave the bottle back, he seemed to hesitate but stuck to his guns.  Dumbass. 


  1. Wait, I don't get it: if they don't want customers to use credit cards, why even have a machine?

  2. as i mentioned in that post on manty, i think that the law requires every restaurant to accept credit cards. i believe it's so that restaurants can't do cash-only business and then under-report their earnings for tax purposes. so, some places (apparently, only Central Asian restaurants) keep a machine in case anyone (tax auditors from the government?) decides to do an inspection, but they tell customers that it doesn't work.

    i really should investigate this for sure and then write a post on it.

  3. Yeah I remember you writing something like that, but that you also mentioned you weren't sure about it. I would really like to know if it's true or not, and the background to the law.

    Cash is such an obsolete 20th-century thing, don't you think? :)

  4. hopefully in the next month, i'll confirm that credit card law.

    i agree about cash. frankly, i wish they made cash illegal, so i could just carry around a single piece of plastic. better yet, just take it out of my phone. or a chip implanted in my hand.