CONTRIBUTED BY CANDICE ONKEN

GK

As our time draws to an end on this island, we begin thinking of all the places we loved best. Whether it is a restaurant, a location, or the great friends we made. As this has been one of our hot spots and is super close to base, I was amazed it had not been written about yet.

Genghis Khan is located conveniently just minutes from Kadena Gate 1. This small, hole-in-the-wall, Mom & Pop owned Mongolian BBQ is to die for! When you walk in, the sights remind me of an old antique shop or possibly your grandmother’s house, since she collected everything and anything.

You are greeted at the door and directed to a table, where you are asked for your drink order and whether you would like rice or bread. Then, you simply get up, grab a bowl and fill it with all the meat and veggies you want. A cook then chops it up and grills it right in front of you. On slow nights, the owner may even assist you on the best sauce combo.

This buffet-style restaurant is perfect for the hungry husband who you can’t seem to keep full. They are only open for dinner — and careful on pay day weekends, as it is hoppin!


Genghis Khan, Mongolian Barbeque

Hours:  Sunday- 5:00-10:00pm, Monday – Saturday- 5:00-10:30pm

Payment:  Dollars and Yen Only

Address: 304-4 Sunabe, Chatan

Google Maps Coordinates: 26.3314702592, 127.749729032

Directions from Kadena Gate 1:  Take a left and then a quick right at the first light. Then take a right at the first street (you will see a sign with a blue person and a pink person with a heart in between). You can either park in the dirt parking lot or pass the restaurant and park along the street.

36 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, it’s still there. I was stationed at Camp Futenma from ’82 to ’84. Always loved to eat and when a friend of mine discovered this place and told me of it all he had to say was all-u-can-eat and I was determined to give it a try. I loved it and it became a weekly ritual for me. I was so happy that it (Mongolian BBQ) eventually became kind of a trend here in the states. Many aren’t A-U-C-E, I don’t go to them, but there’s a restaurant of the same name and format within driving distance that I patronize whenever I go into town. If I was wealthy, I’d return to Oki just to hit GK one more time.

  2. We tried this restaurant after a recommendation from friends. Previously, we avoided it because of the comments here, but I wish we hadn’t.

    If they did serve dog at one point, they do not now. I had the chicken and beef, and my husband tried the other varieties that I can’t recall at the moment (one was lamb). They also had noodles!

    I was going to do the whole “two bowl” thing, but husband said there was not really a point since the meat was frozen when we got it.

    Prices are ¥1500 per adult, which includes choice of rice or bread, fountain drinks, and however many times you choose to go up and get food. Like many “all you can eat” style restaurants, there is NO TAKE OUT once you start eating. When you first arrive, you can opt to get your mean to go instead of sitting down. The cost for that is ¥1000, and the portions are somewhat regulated (300 grams of meat, 300 of veggies, etc.). Ice cream can also be purchased for ¥200.

    As far as cleanliness, the restaurant was fine. Everything wasn’t new and shiny, but it was seriously no different than any other off-base establishment.

    Also, the restaurant opens at 1700 every day now.

    We’ve been twice and will continue going when we crave Mongolian on nights when the places on base aren’t serving it. I prefer the on-base restaurants only because since we pay by oz, we can take the food home, and I like having the leftovers. Food quality is about the same.

  3. I have heard great things about GK well before being deployed out to Kadena, and tonight I went for my first visit. The food was excellent! The staff were very friendly and helpful. I really do not know what people found to be dirty in there, it seemed about the same as most other places I have been out here.
    The first time up I noticed that they returned the cooked food into the same bowl as the raw food, and also quickly figured out that if this was an issue that two bowls could be utilized. I continued to just use one bowl.
    Even if we ate dog meat, it tasted great! I hope to go back soon!

  4. When I was there in the mid 90’s, Ghengis was truly one of the best places to eat. Over a five year period, I probably ate there more than 50 times and was never disappointed. We would go and stuff our gullets until we were miserable. Everyone was so nice there. Hopefully I’ll get a chance one day to experience it just once more. I highly recommend that everyone in Oki try it at least once during their rotation.

  5. Too bad the old location on HWY 58 closed down–it was the best! BTW I can remember every now and then the cat or dog meat stories would circulate about some restaurant when I was there in the eighties–that is what they were–stories. Everyone who has been there have seen just how strictly the Japanese monitor everything. Considered taking a side trip there next time in Asia just to go there but it just would not be the same without the ‘Wall of Water’–too bad!

    • I was at Hansen/Butler from ’83 to ’84, and I recall the place being near the gate of Hansen/Butler, not Kadena, so possibly it was this old location you refer to. I loved the place. Grills were wood-fired and HOT! It was all-you-can-eat, so we REALLY took advantage of that. Another place right out the gate across the street that had great Yaki-Soba and friend rice. Now, I went to a remote restaurant once away from any base; they didn’t speak English; so I pointed to a pic and they served up some great noodles with ribs. Very tender. Asked my wife later, “What small animal do you suppose those ribs came from?” Hmmm, sometimes best just not to know!

  6. Can’t recall how much it is exactly but we always bring 10,000 Yen for our family of 2 adults and 4 kids. I would think 5,000 would be fine for you.

  7. Genghis Khan has the best Mongolian BBQ in the world. We first ate at this restaurant back in the late 80’s when we were stationed in Okinawa. This was when the restaurant was located between MCAS Futenma and Camp Foster and had the waterfall window. That restaurant was bigger and a bit nicer and had a great smell to it. A lot of that had to do with the unique wood they used to heat the grill. In 2011 I found myself back in Okinawa for the first time in 21 years and had to eat at Genghis Khan again since I’ve craved their food that entire time and tried to find Mongolian BBQ at many places across the country that tasted as good as their without success. The 2nd best I had was a very pale comparison to Genghis Khan’s food. I was sad when finding their original location was closed, but then elated when I found out they were still in business, just in a new location. Although their new restaurant is smaller and kind of reminded me of a Cracker Barrel because of the decor, but the food is unique from any other place. It is still the best Mongolian BBQ in the world and I wish I could find a place here in the U.S. that would be at least half as good. I thought the restaurant was clean and I thought they put the cooked food was put into a different bowl from the one I put the raw food in, but I may be confusing that with the Mongolian BBQ at MCB Kaneohe Bay Hawaii. If I was rich enough, I’d travel back and forth between the U.S. and Okinawa just to eat at Genghis Khan.

    • I have to agree this place is the best. From X’ian to Sydney, LA to Amsterdam, Flin Flon to Cuidad Bolivar I have not found a Mongolian BBQ that comes close to my Ghengis Khan experiences 84-89!

      And I LOOK ALL THE TIME!

  8. We had dinner there on Friday and have no complaints. The staff is super attentive and friendly and the place filled up 30 min after opening. There are toys for the kids and plastic plates and cups both our kids ( two under age 2) loved it! Food was good veggies and sauce a little limited but tasty. We’ll be going back again!

  9. I have only eaten here once, but I enjoyed it. There are negative and positive things about GK, but if you are careful, you can avoid them almost entirely. Take 2 bowls with you (one for the raw meat and one for the cooked meat) and use a napkin when touching the tongs since they often have them sitting inside the tray on top of the raw meat (this grossed my husband out big time). The price was reasonable for the amount of food that we ate (we all had at least 2 bowls) and I didn’t have an issue with the actual restaurant cleanliness. The floors were swept, our table was clean, and the server was friendly. If you can follow these simple rules, you will enjoy your experience and meal.

  10. We love GK. The interior isn’t new and shiny, but it’s not dirty. The staff is so nice, and the food is delicious. I had mongolian bbq at the kadena club, and when it arrived at the table, there were things in the bowl that I knew I didn’t choose! At GK, the food is cooked one dish at a time and right in front of you. They also clean the grill in between every customer’s dish.

  11. I’ve been here almost 5 years and I can say I’ve never gotten sick eating here. If you are used to cookie cutter chain restaurants then this place is probably not for you. This place has character! If you want good food with a cool history then this is your spot. If you didn’t take a second bowl with you to the chef that is your own fault. You have to do this on base when they have Mongolian BBQ as well. @Vanesa: Look where they cook the food? They cook it on a grill. Nothing survives on that thing. The grills are probably 30+ years old. They are not going to be shiny new. They are seasoned just like iron skillets. Don’t be afraid of these bad reviews. You can’t satisfy everyone. Let them eat at Mickey D’s. More food for me!

  12. I was stationed at Kadena between 1983 to 1986 I have been to the Kahn many times. I was probably there in the early days, the place was very clean, I remember the waterfall window, the food was great , all you can eat, the place smelled of soy sauce, garlic, ginger and teriaki.I would love to open a place like this in the states, I truly think it would appeal to many.

  13. I have eaten there only once but to be honest the lack of cleanliness is pretty obvious, just take a moment and look when they cook the food. Can be tasty but if I can choose I am not going back.

  14. @ Ella: Right on about being in Asia. This ain’t Pennywhistle, IA or Wheredahellami, SD…if you didn’t want to go overseas, then you shoulda stayed back where things are familiar. I’ve always found GK’s to be great value for the $$, and NEVER had a problem there. Guess I’m an exception to the rule. Having grown-up overseas in the 70s as an Army brat (and a 1976 Kubasaki HS grad) and served in the US Navy as an enlisted (now retired), I learned to eat where the locals eat. I’m adventurous as Anthony Bourdain is…and I never get sick. As for dog meat, as reprehensible as it may be to Westerners (Americans, in particular), it’s part of the diet in some Asian and Pacific Island cultures (Korea, for instance). And what passes for “food” sometimes in the US could make a maggot gag in the sewers of Mumbai. It’s all about how you’re tuned…

  15. If you’re worried about them putting your food back in the same bowl the raw meat was in (I worried about it)then just double stack your bowl with another. They will get rid of the bowl your food was in and use the fresh bowl to serve the cooked food to you. I personally love this place. However, many of the people I’ve talked to who have eaten the lamb get a little sick afterwards. Luckily I don’t care for lamb and have never been sick eating here (we’ve been at least 20 x)

  16. @ Carrie— that is why you take two bowls with you; one to put the raw ingredients in, and the second to put the cooked food into.

    @ Kristin– you’re absolutely right- that place is PACKED on the weekends.

    The Staff in our unit take noobs to Genghis as a tradition. You’re in Asia people, they don’t eat the same stuff you grew up eating in your home.

  17. We went for the first time when I was about 5 months pregnant. I did not realize it until I starting eating my wonderful yummy bowl that they put your cook food back in the same bowl that you dipped the raw meat into. My appetite left at that point. What is so funny is that most people never even realize it. About 20 minuets before we left a man from my husbands shop had to kill a 2 inch cockroach for me since I was wearing flip flops. Needless to say the CRUNCH I heard from that was quite enough.
    The food taste great but when in doubt…do WITHOUT!

  18. Diet friendly? Okay, I don’t see anything diet friendly about a restaurant that serves this kind of food. Now, on the other hand, operating such a dirty establishment might be diet friendly since any person with functioning eyesight would walk in and lose their appetite.

  19. Well if you eat the chicken you can’t be fooled. I am pretty sure dog isn’t the same color as chicken. Not that my husband cares because he ate dog in the Philippines. Even so after restaurants go through something like that they are under scrutiny and have to be extra careful. People still eat at Subway and Jack-in-the-Box. I am glad someone finally put this up on Okinawa Hai. It is very diet friendly.

  20. Suzy, I’m not sure where you would find a link to it. My husband and I used to have dinner there every now and again, so we decided after a long work day for both of us to go there for dinner (this was, maybe, a decade ago). It was closed when it should have been open, and my husband (Okinawan) read the Japanese writing on the sign that said it was closed due to what basically amounted to “difficult circumstances”. We thought maybe there was a death in the family, so we never thought twice about it until a few days later when my husband was reading an Okinawan newspaper article stating that a popular mongolian bbq restaurant near KAB gate 1 had been shut down because they were caught serving dog meat. Although it didn’t state the name of the restaurant, it was pretty obvious to all of us which restaurant the article was about. There have been no reports of suspicious food at Ghengis Khan since, but that was enough to curb my appetite for their food.

  21. Gross. Did it really close down??? Would love to have a link so we can verify this please (not that we’ll ever go back again anyway). I always wonder if stories like this are true though and I can’t find anything about it when I google it.

  22. Genghis Khan? No thank you! I’ve lived here for quite awhile and I remember when they were closed for serving dog meat. Yes, true that eating on Okinawa can be a risk no matter where you eat, but why eat somewhere that has already proven to be disgusting! I went to a restaurant here that served raw goat and horse meat, but it was stated as such on the menu and not advertised as being chicken.

  23. You risk a lot eating anywhere like that on this island….Genghis is great!! Weve gone there many times and never got sick… Its kind of pricey, so we started making it at home 🙂

  24. If you can get over the filth/gross factor of the place the food isn’t bad. We’ve gone here a bit with large groups of people b/c it’s so kid friendly. I honestly wouldn’t ever take someone I was trying to impress simply b/c of the lack of cleanliness. Last thurs. we stumbled into the Ocean Breeze for dinner and they had mongolian BBQ for dinner. It was clean, the food was good, and I left wondering why I’ve never searched for an alternative to Ghengis before.

  25. You know, I can’t eat here no matter how good everyone says the food is. I will never forget reading an article in the local paper awhile back stating that Genghis Khan was closed temporarily because they were serving meat from unknown animal sources…

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