Never Underestimate the Power of a Dream

Never Underestimate the Power of a Dream

Best Mongolian Restaurant | Statewide Winner and Best of Treasure Valley

Duy Tran The year is 2009. A young man from Vietnam finds himself—in seeking work anywhere he can get it in Boise—washing dishes and scrubbing floors and toilets in #1 Mongolian BBQ.

He’s overqualified to do any of this work—a landscape photographer, webmaster, and graphic designer by training, he left a business that he owned in Vietnam to come to the United States and strive for a dream he saw but had no road map to follow.
No map? No problem.

We love a good Cinderella story around here. It’s the American dream distilled into its most basic components—a person not of noble or elite birth rises to the top through hard work, good values, and their own ingenuity.

Today we look at the result of those values: a beautiful location rich in elegance and exquisite details. This a restaurant visit that’s about experience and sensory fulfillment as much as anything else. To look at what this top restaurant is today, well, it’s difficult to believe the humble roots from which it grew. For this inspirational story and its outcome, we have the dedication of Duy Tran to thank.

From Dream to Reality

Back in 2009, #1 Mongolian BBQ was the restaurant that took Duy in when he came to Idaho on a wing and prayer. He had no concept then of what he would do; he simply never gave up. As a dishwasher and eventual chef at the restaurant, he did the work he had to do. He didn’t love it. Often he found himself questioning what he was doing and the wisdom of his choices. His wife and child were still back in Vietnam, waiting to join him in the United States. He sent what he earned back home and visited as often as he could.

From his position in the kitchen and as one of the grunt employees in #1 Mongolian BBQ, Duy observed and knew why the place wasn’t doing as well as it could be. When the owner at the time announced that the restaurant would have to close, an idea hatched. Duy had very little money and very little credit. He knew what he had to do, he just had to find the means to do it.

Duy borrowed money from friends and family, he obtained very small bank loans, and he bought the restaurant. People questioned his wisdom, but he plowed ahead, believing in himself. “I trusted myself. I poured myself into it. And I did everything on my own. I rebuilt,” Duy says.

From the time he became the owner of #1 Mongolian BBQ, Duy spent every day from the end of 2015 to the end of 2016 fixing the restaurant up. He needed to make it work.

We know that when a restaurant struggles, it’s a top-down problem. Duy has always made his goals and desires for his restaurant a team effort, sharing his vision with his team. He believes that they can and will work together to achieve that. Right away he created both short-term and long-term goals.
It worked: at the end of 2016, his restaurant started to get better reviews (one area that had contributed to the demise of #1 Mongolian BBQ’s first incarnation).

Changing Tide #1 Mongolian BBQ Team

It was a trickle at first.Then, after 2016, Duy challenged his team again with a goal that seemed obtainable but was still shooting for the moon: get #1 Mongolian into the top ten for Boise. As Duy demonstrates, a challenge is just what he needs to succeed. It was a long shot, wasn’t it?

Well, we can’t argue with these results: at the end of 2017 they were in the top seven for best barbecue joints in Idaho. From 2018 to now, they have ranked within the top three best barbecue joints in Boise.

Duy is careful to point out the honor he places on winning Idaho’s Best for 2022. He says this is because it represents the admiration and respect of his customers.

This makes sense: his efforts and those of his family shine through, and customers see it! Everyone knows the satisfaction of being seen and understood. Duy is honored by this.

We’re honored as well, Duy!

Same Work, Different Mindset

As the owner of #1 Mongolian BBQ, Duy does everything, from pinch-hitting in the kitchen to attending to guests, and still sometimes cleaning up and doing the dishes. Once upon a time he did that stuff because it was the only thing he could do, back when he first came to Boise.

But now, he finds joy in it because the restaurant is his—a dream come true, one that Duy shares with his family, his friends, and his guests.

#1 Mongolian BBQ deserves its name. The honor, Duy, is all ours.

Are You a 2022 Nominee?

If you’re on the ballot for Idaho’s Best of 2022, congratulations! As a nominee, you earned your spot by having a good mix of nominations and reviews. Out of tens of thousands of Idaho businesses that were nominated, we narrowed it down to 2,678 nominees that will move on to voting.

So what should you do now? You should claim your nomination.

You may ask, “Why do I need to claim my nomination if I’m already on the ballot?” That’s a fair question and it’s what brings us to the point of this blog.

Claiming Your Nomination Helps Idaho’s Best Verify Your Business Information

You would be shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, if you knew how much effort our team spends checking information to make sure we are as fair and accurate as possible. Besides having the business name and category right, we’re comparing information and addresses across Google, Facebook, Yelp, the BBB, and your websites for all locations in Idaho to make sure that all of your votes and reviews are credited correctly.

But we’re not asking for your pity (we did this to ourselves!), just for your help.

When you claim your nomination, you have the opportunity to help us get it right. You’re able to verify that your business name, location(s), and contact information are correct.

Claiming Your Nomination Establishes a Point of Contact

Some of our nominees are sole proprietors, forging their own path with the unique skills they possess. Others have an empire across Idaho, with dozens or even hundreds of employees in our state. Either way, all of you are important to our community and it would be great if Idaho’s Best knew who to give this award to on behalf of your business.

Idaho’s Best might be the most popular “Best of” awards in Idaho business (OK, it definitely is), and we think we’re pretty awesome, but we aren’t going to assume that you’re automatically going to know the pertinent info for our awards. Claiming your nomination helps us notify the right person when your business is nominated or becomes a finalist.

Claiming Your Nomination Helps Us…and You!

It’s true! Claiming your nomination for Idaho’s Best can make it better. High levels of engagement drive the adjustments we make year-to-year. We do the best we can to compare like with like to achieve a level playing field.

Categories with few nominations and even fewer claimed nominations get less attention. They may be absorbed by another category or disappear altogether.

Categories with a lot of competitors and claimed nominations are likely to get more attention. This doesn’t mean they’re scored differently, but that it’s more likely we’ll add categories that are more narrowly defined, giving every business in that group better odds and a fairer shake.

Claiming your nomination can even give you an edge when you need it. Ties in scoring aren’t frequent, but when they occur the nod goes to a company who claimed their nomination if their opponent did not. Claimed Nomination > Unclaimed Nomination

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We Care About Your Privacy

You can see the complete Idaho’s Best privacy policy here. We want you to know that we won’t share any information you provide when you claim your nomination (or make nominations, or vote) with any other party or organization unless you request it. Our email notifications are strictly opt-in and are only used for communications regarding Idaho’s Best so we can let you know about important dates or events.

Nominations Now Open for 2022 Idaho’s Best Business Awards

Well that year was a doozie! Let’s put on our warmest socks, pour a glass of eggnog, and get ready for the best time of the year … the Idaho’s Best™ Business Awards!
[cool sequel image]

“What Makes Idaho’s Best the Best?”

Good question. The Idaho’s Best™ Awards aim to recognize the best businesses in each region of Idaho and the Gem State as a whole. Using a combination of 5-star reviews, online ratings, and votes, we recognize Idaho’s best businesses across nearly 200 categories. You can read more about how the awards work right here.

No one cares about getting it right more than Idaho’s Best™ does, period. We are relentless in our pursuit to find and recognize the best places, companies, and organizations in Idaho. We’re able to find the best (with your help) because we do it differently:

  • No pay to play — participation is free. While we couldn’t do it without our sponsors, they are still held to the same scoring standards as any business in Idaho’s Best™.
  • You choose the nominees and do the voting, not us.
  • Online reviews help determine the winners.

The Reader’s Digest Version

The Idaho’s Best Business Awards (not to be confused with the Idaho’s Best Employer Awards) take place in three stages — nominations, voting, and reputation scoring. We don’t only recognize the best overall, but also the best for each of four regions of Idaho.

Idaho's Best Region Map Central Idaho – Twin Falls, Mountain Home, McCall, Ketchum, Jerome, Burley
Eastern Idaho – Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Driggs, American Falls
Panhandle – Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Moscow, Lewiston, Sandpoint
Treasure Valley – Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Emmett, Payette

Phase 1: Nominations

Anyone who lives in Idaho can nominate a business or organization for Idaho’s Best; you can even nominate yourself! Nominations take place online from December 1- 17, 2022. Remember; the more nominations you get, the better. The top nominees in each region will progress to the voting round.
Participants who nominate 10 or more businesses will be entered in a drawing to win a $100 gift card for any Idaho restaurant of their choice (multiple prizes awarded).

Phase 2: Voting

After the nominees have been determined and notified, it’s time to get out the vote. The voting period is February 1-17, 2022. Any Idaho resident with a mobile phone can cast their vote for as many categories as they like, but only one vote for each category. Voting is done through our website and ballots are secured through SMS verification.

Every Wednesday during the voting period we’ll be giving away great prizes via our “Hump Day Giveaway”. Those who referred other voters via our voting application will be automatically entered to win; every referred voter is an additional entry.

Phase 3: Reputation

The top vote-getters for each category in their region will move on as finalists. We’ll announce this as soon as we can after tallying and confirming votes. Finalists are then scored for their online reputation. Specifically, we’ll capture the previous 12 calendar months of reviews leading up to February 17, 2022.

Announcing the Winners

Once all the data is in, we’ll announce the winners at our Idaho’s Best™ Awards Banquet, which will occur over two nights in April, 2022.
Now let’s kick this party off with some nominations!


Idaho’s Best™ is an awards contest that is owned and operated by Inbound Systems.