Cocktail Hour: The Lackman Presents Piano Man
3 weeks ago
Wild Ginger is a Vietnamese, Thai, and Sushi restaurant with contemporary Asian decor, friendly staff, and delicious food. We must have driven past Wild Ginger a thousand times and always remarked “We should try that place sometime.” Well, sometime finally arrived when we were heading to Hyde Park Plaza and decided we should grab a bite beforehand.
The restaurant is relatively small with seating for maybe fifty including about a dozen seats at the bar. Fortunately, we only had to wait about five minutes, which proved to be not nearly enough time to even scour the large menu. The dishes vary from sushi and sashimi options to a long list of at least twenty creative stir fry dishes—all available with chicken, beef, veggies, tofu, shrimp, or seafood. There were also several original seafood dishes including the traditional Salmon Teriyaki and the more unique Three-flavored Walleye.
We started with a simple order of Veggie Spring Rolls. The two spring rolls came out quickly and were served with the traditional sweet thai chili sauce. The spring rolls were delicious, though a little bit greasy. They weren’t particularly large, but were a pretty standard size and were completely packed with veggies. The wrap was perfectly crisp, and it made a great start to the meal.
My dish for the night was Firecracker-style chicken stir fry. Firecracker-style includes a mix of vegetables such as broccoli, bamboo shoots, eggplant, peppers, and onions. For each stir-fry dish, they ask how spicy you’d like it on a scale of 1 to 10. Whether you can actually distinguish between two consecutive numbers, who knows, but I went with a 6 to make sure it had plenty of flavor, some kick, and the fire department could attend to more important causes. I could easily have gone to a 7 and probably an 8 with enough water.
My stir-fry was terrific. The sauce was delicious with just enough extra spice to leave my mouth tingling after each bite. The chicken pieces were large and all white meat, boneless pieces—none of those “is that really chicken?” pieces you’d find from a fast-food Asian place. The dish was easily large enough for two servings, but hey, I was hungry :-) It also came with a large portion of brown rice, which was served plain, but a nice accompaniment nonetheless.
Overall, I was impressed with the decor, the great menu, and the terrific food. We’ll definitely be back to this one!
NOTE: We included the link to the restaurant’s web site above, but the menu there is completely outdated and looks nothing like the new one (that’s a good thing!).
We’ve been meaning to get to Wild Ginger for a while now, and the realization on a recent weeknight that the refrigerator was approaching empty was the perfect excuse. Several friends highly recommended Wild Ginger, and neither of us could believe that we’ve driven past it so many times without ever eating there.
We were both really hungry when we walked in, so we knew that we would be ordering an appetizer. There was a quick debate as to what we should start with, and we decided on vegetable spring rolls, more as the path of least resistance than because either of us was really excited about them. In any case, they came out fairly quickly, which was sort of the goal, and they were good. There were two in the serving, one for each of us, and they were of a decent size. Our biggest complaint was that they were quite greasy. I know that spring rolls are fried (although I like to pretend that because they are filled with veggies, they are actually healthy), but this was a kind of an icky amount of oil. But once I got over the slightly drippy rolls, they were very good and flavorful, with plenty of plum sauce.
It was a few minutes before our main dish appeared, which I appreciate when I am dining out. After much deliberation, I ordered the Cashew Stir Fry with tofu. It had cashews, pineapple, carrots, peppers, onions, and tofu as my protein. They have an extensive menu with a good twenty or so different stir fry options, and to each one you can choose to add chicken, steak, veggies, or tofu. You get to choose white or brown rice. You also get the choice of spice level. The waiter asks you to rate your preferred spicy-level on a scale from 1-10. I chose five, and I was very satisfied. It was hot enough that I drank a good bit of water, but not so hot that I inhaled a lot of plain rice. The dish was big, but not too big. I originally was going to eat about half and take the rest home, but I ultimately was enjoying it so much that I kept putting a little more from the main plate onto my plate until I had finished it. Oops. But a much-enjoyed oops!
My only real criticism of Wild Ginger was the service. The waiter did not seem to speak much English—or if he did, he did not let us know. He was never unfriendly, but was not exactly friendly, either. He came to take our order and to bring us the check, but never seemed to be particularly interested in ensuring that we had a good meal. In spite of that, we certainly did. The décor was modern and a little funky. I can’t describe it much better than that, but I liked it.
One word of warning if going to check out their menu online before heading over there: the menu has changed completely. We often look at a menu before we go, mainly to ensure that the picky one of us (yup, that’s me) will find something to eat. Their menu was extensive enough that we knew it wouldn’t be a problem, but when we arrived, the menus were completely new. It was still very long and comprehensive, and I debated about six different dishes before making my decision, but consider yourself warned that the dishes on the online menu—and the prices—are not the same in the restaurant.