Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Wild Ginger – Downtown, Seattle

Posted on: Tuesday 02 August 2011

I’ve been desperately searching for quality Asian restaurants in Seattle. When I ask for recommendations, there are Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese eateries but sadly no Chinese or Thai. ‘How’s the yum cha in Chinatown?’ My hope is instantly deflated by the hesitant response. Several have suggested a road trip to Richmond. As in British Columbia, Canada. Three hours’ drive to a different country.

I miss the ‘wok breath’ of stir-fried dishes, scalding bowls of laksa in dingy food courts, aromatic massaman curry with chunks of melt-in-mouth beef, the simple and nourishing flavours of a whole steamed fish … I could go on and on!

It was with trepidation that we entered Wild Ginger for a late Friday dinner. Really, what is ‘eastern Pacific Rim’ cuisine? I had expected the restaurant to be constricted to the dining room along Union Street and I was surprised to find booth seating and a mezzanine level in the lofty space. We were seated in a corner with street view and it was cosy without being too dim.

There was an extensive standard menu and also a one page specials menu. As is tradition with many Asian cuisines, the dishes are designed to be shared. There was a satay section with various proteins, soups, salads, curries, noodles and sides, and seafood featured prominently.

Mr S enjoyed a Tsingtao beer as we discussed what to order. Thankfully most dishes were available in two sizes. The first stop on our food tour of Asia was Thailand. The peasant’s chicken were two skewers of chicken marinated in coconut curry and served with Thai peanut sauce, pickled vegetables and a cube of sticky rice. These satay sticks reminded Mr S of ones he grew up with at Parap Markets in Darwin. Tender and charred, the fragrant chicken was lovely with the spicy sauce.

We crossed borders into Vietnam for soft-shell crab with garlic, lemongrass and pepper. Ugly in appearance, these crustaceans were soaking in a delectable sauce. Although a little oily, the legs were delightfully crispy, and the body creamy and juicy.

For the main, we returned to Thailand for Wild Ginger’s signature duck. Spiced with cinnamon and star anise, the pieces of duck are hidden under sprigs of cilantro. Gently pry open the fluffy steamed buns, dollop on sweet plum sauce, wedge in as much duck as possible, top with cilantro leaves and you have an Asian burger! Chewing slowly, we ate these in silence.

A side of wild mushrooms with pea pods were distinctively Cantonese. Coated in oyster sauce, the thick slices of mushrooms were meaty and the snow peas crunchy.

We opted to share the dessert special of coconut sticky rice with fresh mango. Grocery stores and farmers markets are stacked with trays of mangoes in an Australian summer. I savoured each bite of the yellow flesh, firm and sweet. The ball of sticky rice had a curious caramel glaze and a light dusting of toasted coconut flakes.

I think we have found a restaurant to temporarily sate my Asian palate, albeit a fusion approach!

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1 Response to "Wild Ginger – Downtown, Seattle"

[…] final course was the famous Dahlia duck bun. Similar to the versions at Momofuku Seiōbo and Wild Ginger, the tender duck was wedged in a soft bun with mandoline cucumbers, a squirt of hoisin sauce and a […]

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