Archive for the 'Asian' Category

07
Aug
08

Wild Ginger Kitchen

I consider the Wild Ginger Kitchen an oasis of sorts.  It once served as a culinary beacon of light for me and I won’t forget my gratitude.  My fiancee and I were wandering aimlessly through SoHo (an organic and romantic way to find a good place to eat, though probably not the most efficient) and for whatever reason, felt uncharacteristically picky.  Italian, everyone’s standby, wasn’t as appetizing as usual and the heavy fare we passed at every other storefront looked like bricks waiting to be swallowed.

We ended up walking down Mulberry in the heart of tourist’s Little Italy.  Not intending to eat in the neighborhood, I vigilantly attempted not to make eye contact with the foaming-at-the-mouth Italian call boys each restaurant employs to lure unsuspecting tourists into its mediocre culinary interior.  Still, as a couple walking arm in arm, we were prime targets to be called at,  be sung O Solo Mio, and to be physically approached by the circus vendors from the other side of the street.
We kept walking.
Though we had half-decided to eat at a dozen locations, we couldn’t come to a consensus and ventured on.  Our stomachs began to get the better of us and just as we had weakly decided to walk to a favorite location in the West Village we reached the corner of Mulberry and Broome.  There, just down from the corner, seemingly backlit with heavenly light, was Wild Ginger.
An unassuming exterior leads to a transformed interior of exposed brick, bamboo and soft candle light.  Immediate friendly service and comfortable seating completes the intimate atmosphere.
The Pan-Asian cuisine of Wild Ginger is exclusively vegan.
Okay, hold on carnivores, stay with me.  I know what most people think when they hear the word “vegan”: turn the page, tofu, bland, keep walking, I’ll get a hot dog and wait for you at the corner.  I promise you, this is not what you expect.  The options at Ginger Kitchen are loaded with such succulent and inviting flavor that even the most staunch, anti-tofu carnivore would bat his/her eyelashes at these entrees.
For starters, the reliable standbys are here: taro and yam tempura, spring rolls and miso soup, all of which are exceptionally executed.  However, the seitan skewers and tempeh come highly recommended.  The seitan is lightly glazed in a sweet hoisin sauce and served with red and green bell pepper and onion.  Seitan (sat-tan), for those of you who don’t know, is wheat gluten at its simplest and a carnivore’s delight at its most decadent.  Once the wheat gluten has been isolated it can be simmered and marinated in whatever flavor you want it to take and with its “meaty” texture and high protein content, it makes for a filling and flavorful main course.  Tempeh, on the other hand, is a traditional Indonesian creation made from a variety of fermented grains tightly packed into a firm cake.  Once the tempeh is thinned and fried, it takes on a hearty texture and is heavenly with a BBQ sauce, hoisin glaze or (one of my personal favorites) added to a Caesar salad.
Entrees at Wild Ginger Kitchen are surprisingly reasonable given the portion size (expect to pay $12-14).  The chefs specialize in the preparation of soy cutlets: soy protein that has been lightly breaded and fried and mimics the texture of chicken.  The most impressive demonstration of this mouth-watering treat is in their General Tso’s “chicken” and the mango soy cutlets with plum sauce.  General Tso’s chicken is served with a traditional spicy (but not too spicy) sauce over a bed of perfectly steamed broccoli.  The mango soy cutlets include the cutlets, fresh mango and a variety of stir fried veggies in a mildly sweet plum sauce.  I challenge any carnivore to eat these dishes and complain about missing the meat!  Perhaps my personal favorite at Wild Ginger is the jade mushrooms.  Shitake mushrooms are lightly fried and coated with a thick sweet plum sauce.  Served over a bed of kale, served slightly al dente, the crispy mushrooms begin to melt in your mouth and are perfectly balanced by the salty greens.  With some hot sake on the side, these dishes become utterly cravable.
The next time you’re wandering aimlessly in New York, remember Mulberry and Broome and make Ginger Kitchen your dinner destination…you won’t be disappointed.

Wild Ginger Kitchen

380 Broome St.

(On the NE corner of Broome and Mulberry)




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