The man who ate Lincoln Rd skipped breakfast on Wednesday as well as the most important meal of the day - morning tea - to work up a righteous hunger and thus make the most of an all you can eat lunch at the Gengis Khan Mongolian BBQ Restaurant.
O Mongolia! O land of the meaty yak. What's not to like about a Mongol feast barbecued before your eyes? It's a winning concept, and has created the six Gengis Khan franchises in Auckland, not to be confused with Wellington's famous Genghis Khan restaurant, or the chain of 10 Mongolian BBQ restaurants called Gengy's.
Gengis, Genghis, Gengy. There was always a party when the old brute and his conquering rabble sat down to eat, and it's likely that no one made a fuss about the correct use of the apostrophe. A sign in the Lincoln Rd premises referred to "buffet area's", another to "taxi's", and a third to "pancake's". Never mind. I was just there to fill my boot's.
It's a dark, enormous place. It seats about 250. The lights are low. It was as empty as the Gobi desert when I arrived; I felt a bit foolish as the only diner in such a vast enterprise.
Fortunately a work party of eight dudes eventually traipsed in, including one guy with an awesome Ron Burgundy moustache.
And so the conquering horde were nine in number, attended to by serving girls. There was a waitress and a chef who planted herself inside the cooking pit. There was a lot of food. I piled one plate with spaghetti, potato salad, garlic rolls, and salad, and handed the chef my first bowl of chicken, beef, pork, and lamb on top of egg noodles with celery, red pepper, and spring onions. She made quick work of it on the barbecue and every mouthful was delicious.
I waddled back for a second bowl. Apparently the most anyone has ever eaten at the Lincoln Rd restaurant was a Samoan man who put away six helpings. O hungry Samoan! O how did you do it? I get why you did it; it would have started off as simple hunger, then evolved into a challenge, a quest. You had to knock the bastard off. But where did you put it?
I marvelled at his stamina as I dragged myself back to the pit and filled up a third bowl. The signs at the buffet were a bit of a downer. One read, "Please excuse any organic matter that may have occurred in cleaning." What? Another moaned on about "suitable" bowls, and chided diners who attempted to pile it as high as possible: "Excessive food left-overs may result in surcharge." What? And shouldn't that have read "left-over's"?
I had the Samoan's record in my sights as I crawled back for more. But I could barely walk the distance to the buffet, and thought of asking for Ron Burgundy's assistance. In the end I only made it as far as the dessert counter, where I helped myself to three scoops of ice-cream topped with chocolate sauce.
It put a spring in my step and I wandered around the restaurant, which has a bar, a smoking room, and an alcove with 18 pokey machines. Strange to stand there spooning down ice-cream while 18 suckers pulled at levers with grim determination. Money Bears paid out a few bucks.
A second bowl of ice-cream finished off the experience. Your record is safe, Samoan warrior! Six helpings: respect. I wish I could have beaten it. Even though it's a cheerless, mean-spirited place, it's good fun eating a lot of meat's, and I never wanted to leave.
•All views expressed are the author's.