Restaurant reviews

What they said:

"I had this vision of perhaps having to eat some of the more unsavoury parts of a scrawny goat, or devilled yak belly, but my fears were swiftly banished. Starters here can be relatively adventurous things like Spare Ribs, or Baga Bogd, jalapeno peppers filled with cream cheese, and a tangy salsa dip. But its only when you get to the main course when things really get wild. You`re given a bowl and fill it with food, as many times as you like for £20.95, which means if you`re ravenous after a hard days pillage with the lads on the mongolian steppes, you can keep going back until you`re fit to burst."

"This is feasting on a grand scale and after topping up with chicken, or pork, or beef, or prawns and veg, plus oils, spices, garlic, soy sauce, chilli etc - recipes writ large on the wall make useful suggestions - you move to a hotplate where cooks in full costume will cook your selection in a furious communal stir fry. Having devoured that, and slurped the delightful house Burgundies, you either go back for more of the same, or different (it`s up to you) or follow on with a sweet, which I found impossible after utilising chicken and prawns, followed by an attempt at sweet and sour pork in which I got carried away with the ginger!"

"This barbecue is immense fun with friends, well priced and a unique experience. Book."
top of page

Andrew McRobbie is a mild-mannered man. But he feeds the hungry foot-soldiers of the Central Belt the food of fearsome warriors. He’s one of a pair of brothers who own and run Khublai Khan, home in Glasgow and Edinburgh of Mongolian barbecue. This probably means little to you, but the concept is remarkably simple. You choose your food and someone else cooks it. Andrew explains: “There are cold cabinets where people can choose from 15 types of vegetable and the same number of meats and seafood; including kangaroo, ostrich and fresh shark. Then they choose aromatic oils and sauces, herbs and spices. At the griddle, the customers watch while the grill chefs make it all into a stir fry.” In the Glasgow restaurant, diners eat under a mural of charging warriors; enough to frighten anyone into cleaning his or her plate. But this is all part of the history lesson; Khublai Khan is based on how the marauding warriors of the great Khans eat. They cooked their food on their up-turned shields over the camp fire in the 13th century. It’s much more civilised now, but hasn’t lost that fresh food appeal. “Freshness is obviously the most important thing, it’s great because people can see just how fresh it is as they choose it.

For those with little culinary imagination, there are menus to help, but Andrew finds people ready to improvise: “After their first visit, most people adapt the recipes to suit themselves. We don’t have many disasters. Because people can return to the barbecue as many times as their clothing will allow, they can try again. It’s informal, relaxed; it’s not just about food, it’s about the whole experience.”

Andrew first saw the concept in Hong Kong. His brother Alasdair, an airline pilot, saw it in Japan. Both loved the idea, although neither had experience of catering and for Andrew, it has been an adventure:”I used to work in the VIP protection unit of the police, looking after people like George Bush. I think that was easier!”

top of page

What no Yak?

In fact Yak ribs are one of the starters at this unique eatery – succulent and tender they were served in a rich and fruity Hoi Sin sauce which was finger dippingly good.

Next came the barbecue and I learned that Mongolian food is distinguished by method of cooking. Apparently, it was the custom in 13th Century Mongolia for the marauding warriors of the great Khans to cook their meat with vegetables, oils, herbs and spices in their upturned shield over the campfire. Khublai Khan’s in Leith is somewhat more civilised, but the principle remains. Diners choose from a selection of rice, noodles, meats and fish, and then hand their bowl to the chef to cook on a hotplate. It’s all very relaxed and great fun.

My tip is to follow the suggested recipes on the walls and to go for little and often. My partner had the Hordes Feast, which was wild boar with a wine, tomato and rosemary sauce – a mild and almost Mediterranean dish. I chose chunks of lean venison and added a sweet and sour sauce which perfectly complemented it. Variety is what makes Khublai Khan’s such a good choice for parties of people. The drinks list also helps. Perhaps a Mongolian Mindblower to get things started or Baadog, an impressively hoppy, dark, Mongolian beer.

For sweet I chose lemon soufflé topped with caramelised walnuts. Lemony and fluffy, it was mouth-wateringly good, whilst my partner’s home-made malteeser ice cream was wickedly white and creamy and tempting. Khublai Khan’s offers a unique experience and is a great choice for a night out with friends. It will definitely appeal to the Braveheats in you!

top of page

the list

Eating & Drinking Guide 2010

The new edition of the List's Eating & Drinking Guide is available in the shops and online with fully updated reviews of over 800 restaurants, cafés and bars.

This review is taken from the current (2010) edition.

If it’s novelty dining you’re after, it doesn’t come more out-of-the-ordinary than this Mongolian example. In a large, rambling house in the depths of Leith, it’s very much a hands-on eating experience. From the buffet, you choose the fish or meat, add some vegetables, rice or noodles, and then spice, sauce and season it the way you want it. Then, hand your creation to the griddle chef to be cooked. The process is fun and the results as tasty (or not!) as your imagination can make it. For the less confident, there are plenty of suggested combinations to get you cooking, some from previous diners. The novelty continues with the exotic meats on offer. There can’t be many places where zebra, kangaroo, springbok, crocodile and wild boar are on the menu. So, this is the perfect place for a group looking for a good night out, made even more hilarious if any brave soul submits to being dressed in full Mongolian regalia. And the hungry hordes will be well fed: the 'Mongolian Feast' lets you fill your bowl as often as you like.

top of page

"An original and sociable dining experience has been recreated here. The Mongolian Feast (all you can eat, £20.95) gives a choice of starter and dessert, but between them you select your own ingredients before watching them being cooked on a huge wok descending from the upturned shields warriors once used. The choice of meats includes wild boar and ostrich, whilst inclusion of fish, tofu and many vegetables means vegetarians can enjoy it to the full. For starters we had gahainy mah (roasted yak ribs in smokey barbecue sauce) and the fabulous tin gai (sweet spicy peanut salad). Luckily for those with more appetite than creativity, recipe suggestions are provided, so with two trips each we tried sweet and sour yurk wild boar, emperor’s pleasure lamb, nomad’s dish ostrich and horde’s feast tuna. For dessert we chose tau luk (iced white chocolate terrine with fresh strawberry coulis) and ting yi (minestrone of fresh fruit with lemon sorbet). There is also a pre-theatre menu (£12.95) and free membership discount scheme. It won’t make you feel like a Mongolian warrior, just pleased to have eaten like one!".

top of page

"In the 13th century the warriors of the great Khan’s who ruled Mongolia would cook their food on their upturned shields over a camp fire. With these ancient traditions in mind, Kublai Khan has based their menu around one of the world’s least known, but most original dining experience- the Mongolian feast. Choose your ingredients from an unusual but tasty selection including wild boar and a red chilli terrine, served with a wild berry compote and gahainy mah; roasted yak ribs in a rich hoi sin barbecue sauce. You can also choose from the barbecue too; select your ingredients from the selection of rice, noodles, vegetables meats and seafood. Add a combination of sauces, oils, herbs and spices then take your bowl to the hotplate and watch your creation being cooked for you. The friendly staff will explain any aspect of the menu you may not be sure of. There is a pre-theatre menu available at £12.95 for three courses and the full feast is only £20.95 per person. Khublai Khan is a huge hit with parties of all sizes and the fun nature of the restaurant is a guaranteed icebreaker. Khublai Khan is a fantastic place to visit, with great food and a lively atmosphere".

top of page

Restaurant News


Kublai Khan’s Restaurant

43 Assembly Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 7 BQ