Wednesday, October 26, 2011

wild ginger in bellevue

My wife and I decided to visit Wild Ginger in Bellevue.  I had heard that Wild Ginger was lauded locally as one of the best new restaurants in Seattle in 2010.  As it turned out, it was Restaurant Week.  We were able to have three courses for $28, a fair price.

Wild Ginger has pan Asian fare.  Think, PF Chang's.  As we walked in, the hostess looked harried.  It turned out that an event bought out half of her restaurant, and with the Microsofties having easy access to it due to its location in the Bravern and Restaurant Week in Seattle, it was jumping.  She promised a 20 minute wait, and I responded by asking if she meant a real 20 minutes or optimistic 20.  If it was optimistic, we were out of there before dinner started.  She said real, and to her credit, we were seated at about 13 minutes into the wait.

My wife, who has been reading a book by Ruth Reichl, noted both that we were sat in the back corner of the restaurant, and that the chairs were comfortable.  This was, in her estimation, a minus and a plus (in that order).  Speaking of, we ordered fried oysters, pork (meatball) satay, Singapore beef, spinach prawns, banana bavarian cake, and pumpkin cheesecake mochi.

As for the food, the appetizers came out quickly and the pan fried oysters were good sized, fresh, tasty oysters. The sauce was sort of a jazzed up version of tonkatsu sauce.  (For those uninitiated, Tonkatsu sauce is used frequently in Japanese cuisine with, surprisingly, Katsu's [fried schnitzel-like dishes] and tastes like a sweeter version of A-1.)  The house-made pork satay, a pork "meatball" on a stick of sorts, was juicy with onion, pepper, and was grilled to display nice char marks.  It was very tasty, but its sauce was average - a basic sort of fish sauce with vinegar, a la egg roll sauce you can buy in a bottle at the Asian supermarket for $2.00 per jug.  The meatball-on-a-stick did come with a few house made pickles, which did a good job of cutting the fat and adding a nice pop of flavor.
The main courses were not what we anticipated.  The Singapore beef, my wife dubbed "eggplant seasoned with beef."  Frankly, it tasted like any good Szechuan beef with eggplant.  There was nothing distinctly Singaporean about it.  It was a good spice level for me, but too much for my wife - who had to give up after a small portion.  The spinach prawns surprised us too. Not necessarily in a good way.  As the picture makes clear, it was almost a creamed spinach with some fish sauce served over medium-large shrimp.  It started off pretty decent, but not reminding me of anything particularly "Asian" I have eaten, but lost its appeal after cooling.  Beyond the visual of a plate of green "gloppy" substance, it also had a bit more fish sauce than it needed.  The entree came with a  string bean plate that was no different than Chinatown for $5.  That said, it was a good rendition of the dish, and also had a good spice level. 


In the end, the desserts let down the rest of the meal.  The banana Bavarian cake was dry.  It had the flavor of banana, but didn't hit you on the mouth with banana like you may expect from a desert named "banana Bavarian cake."  The mochi, don't even get me started.   The pumpkin cheesecake was more like pumpkin pie filling, and the outer layer of the mochi was so thick as to almost make the dessert inedible.  They really let down the rest of the meal, which was itself a better rendition of PJ Chang's.

The service, in a word, was average.  It didn't take anything away from the meal, but certainly didn't add anything either.  Our drinks were filled, sometimes, and the waitress came around to ask about us, occasionally.  For the first time in awhile, a server earned a tip of 15%.  Average, but below my defacto average of 20%.  I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who wanted to go to a slightly upscale version of an average International District restaurant when a group, or husband/wife, cannot decide between Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese.

Wild Ginger in Bellevue

11020 NE 6th St. Ste 90. 
BellevueWA 98004 
(425) 495-8889
3.5 of 5

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