Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blue Ginger Chinese, Japanese & Thai Cuisine

Blue Ginger is one of those restaurants that can’t decide what it wants to be. Does it want to be a Chinese restaurant? Perhaps a Japanese restaurant? How about a Thai restaurant? After eighteen years in business I guess they came to the conclusion that they couldn’t choose just one, hence, they decided to satisfy the taste buds for all three cuisines.

Blue Ginger is located in a tiny plaza on Elm Street in Stamford, sandwiched in between a liquor store and a Wachovia Bank. It wasn’t the neon blue sign that drew me in but rather the delicious aromas that nearly brought me to tears a few nights earlier when I was at the Radio Shack a stones’ throw away.

It was a quiet Sunday evening . . . too quiet . . . as I walked into the restaurant. There were no other cars in the parking lot and there was a very good reason for that: there were no other diners inside. My first instinct was to turn around and run back to my car, but I pressed onward. “Table for one,” I announced proudly, like I was blazing a trail that others hadn’t dared to try before.

The hostess led me through a set of sheer curtains and showed me to a table near the front. It really didn’t matter, since I had my choice of places to sit. It wasn’t a very large restaurant, but it was tastefully and simply appointed. A bamboo railing ran along the side of the restaurant, separating some of the 4-seater tables from the 2-seaters. All told, Blue Ginger could seat about 50 hungry diners.

I started the dining experience with a bottle of Kirin beer and an order of chicken satay. When the bottled beer arrived at the table, it was barely room temperature but I wasn’t going to send it back – there’s nothing like quenching a beer thirst, even if it is with lukewarm beer. I didn’t have to wait long for the chicken satay. They were fairly generous, filling my plate with five skinny skewers with five or six chunks of chicken on each. I took my first bite of the satay, which I liberally dipped in the peanut sauce. Again, that urge to run enveloped me. What was in that sauce? It tasted heavily of vinegar and only had a faint hint of peanut flavor. Now, I’m not an expert on Thai cuisine—although I must say I do enjoy devouring it—but that sauce just did not taste right. And, might I add, I’ve had authentic peanut sauce made by my friend Wout in Holland, and it tasted nothing like this sauce.

I feared the meal would be a total loss. Nevertheless, I ate all five skewers. Hunger will do that to a woman.

Ten minutes passed before my entrée arrived. I had eagerly ordered the Chicken with Hot Pepper & Crispy Spinach, but now my hopes weren’t nearly as high. But alas, I am nothing if not a trooper, so I forged ahead, fork in hand, and dug in. To my surprise, the dish was a delicious as the description. True, the spinach was a tad bit greasy, but it was so light, flaky and crispy that it nearly disintegrated in my mouth. The chicken was extremely tender and sautéed to perfection. I had hit upon a winner. So much so, that I cleaned my plate of every piece of chicken shrapnel and every leaf of spinach that I could shovel into my mouth. I left the chunks of jalapenos as I wasn’t trying to completely sear my tongue off at the root.

The chicken and crispy spinach saved the day. Without it, the meal would have been a write-off.

Would I recommend this restaurant? Yes, although if you’re a true fan of peanut sauce, stay away from the satay.

Is Blue Ginger a good value or do you need to take out a loan to eat here? The meals are very reasonably priced and you won't necesssarily break the bank.

What about atmosphere and ambience? I couldn’t tell if I was in China, Japan or Taiwan, but it was understated elegance, and the Buddha Bar-type music playing in the background was a plus.

The menu at Blue Ginger is rather extensive, with offerings of soups, appetizers, salads, fried rice, noodles, their signature specials, veggies and seafood, and sushi.

1 comment:

  1. Well done review! Now I want some tri-asian food!