Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ginger

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Ginger
2861 Logan Street
Nashville
615-679-9555
www.gingerthairestaurant.com

It seems that Pad Thai is becoming as ubiquitous as fried chicken in these parts. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but there are plenty of Thai restaurants in Nashville. The real question these days is the quality of that Thai food. Lately, there have been signs that new proprietors are stepping it up a notch. Ginger Thai restaurant in South Nashville continues the trend.

It’s modest enterprise in a new strip mall just off Thompson Lane. Ginger is nestled in between the International Food Mart and Laolanexang Oriental Market. Inside, you’ll find a simple 15 table dining room with warm, rich colors, modern lighting fixtures and a sleek d├ęcor. Ginger has been open for a little more than five weeks now. The service is both welcoming and efficient. Any signs of opening jitters were quickly made up for with enthusiasm and a genuine care for the food being served.

You’ll need to do a little digging to spot the menu differences between Ginger and other Thai restaurants in town. Start with the house made Udon noodles. You’ll find the creamy noodles enhanced by a savory chicken broth spiked bright with generous cilantro, green onion and flecks of red chili. It’s an excellent chicken noodle soup. On to the green curry, which even ordered mild has a strong kick to it and husky flavor with tremendous depth. This isn’t your average Thai curry. It’s evident that a lot of time and care has gone into cooking down the coconut milk, basil, chili and kaffir lime leaves.

Tom Kah Gai also stands out in the flavor department, assisted by plenty of lemongrass and ginger. The distinct, bold flavors bring the soup alive. The coconut milk red curry for the Kang Ped Phet Yang is spicy and yet not overly so. The duck has a chewy, but tender, consistency and pairs well with the Thai eggplant.

After sampling so much good food we often bypass dessert in favor of the check. This would be a mistake at Ginger. Warm rice pudding comes covered up in a cold, sweet custard that is slight reminiscent of injera bread. Don’t look, just eat. The sticky rice and the sugary custard are a wonderful pairing. They promise house made ice cream and will crack open a coconut so that diners can drink the milk and eat the fruit inside.

Veggie Eater: I’m a sucker for Thai noodles, so I opted for the Lard Nar on this first trip. It was a truly interesting concoction of fresh noodles served atop crisp salad greens and topped with big blocks of tofu, carrots, and broccoli. The noodles were well cooked; no mushiness here. The corn and broccoli still retained most of their snap. The tofu added chewiness. I inquired to ensure it was veggie friendly and was told it was, but did not specifically inquire as to the broth base. The broth was light, mildly hot, sweet, and salty. A great play on flavors and textures. The next time, I opted for the ubiquitous Pad Thai. I realize that traditionally this is not a hot dish. However, I really like it this way and Ginger was happy to oblige. I wouldn’t call it “native” Thai hot, but respectable. The waitress assured me we could up the ante in other dishes if necessary. Again, the folks were kind enough to substitute tofu, for the meat choices, in the Pad Thai. It was chock full of the usual Pad Thai goodness: sprouts, peanuts, chives and eggs. All the ingredients maintained their individuality, instead of becoming a big gloppy mess, as so often happens. It seemed a tad bit heavy on the fish sauce to me (and although on rare occasion I will relent and have a shrimp or a scallop, I don’t really like fish). What really knocked my socks off was the green curry. It is everything I love in a food; soothing from the coconut milk, spicy from the peppers, tart from the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and balanced by the basil. Since the Meat Eater was partaking, we did not ask for the heat to be altered and it brought a happy glow to our tummies. I found myself ordering ice tea and was given a choice of Thai or sweet ice tea. Well, I’m not one for sweet tea (those Northern roots go deep), so I ordered the Thai ice tea. Let’s just say it makes Southern sweet tea seem positively bitter in comparison. It’s orange in color, thickened with either condensed milk or cream, and spiced (cinnamon? allspice?) I guess I understand the pairing with hot foods, but really, I prefer a Singha beer…live and learn. There are quite a few veggie offerings, as most menu items offer a tofu version.

Meat Eater: Ginger is a welcome addition to the Nashville Thai food options. We paid $41 with tax and tip for one dinner and $40 with tax and tip on another visit.
Ginger on Urbanspoon

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love this new restaurant. I've already been three or four times and have brought friends.

Eric and Katie said...

Anon: I think it's fast becoming a favorite for many folks. It's interesting though that they didn't approve an urbanspoon listing. I hope they are not afraid of social media activity. I think if you have a great restaurant social media can help get the word out.

ModFruGal said...

I loved their Tom Kha as well...

EdKing said...

We've had lunch here 3 times and I find we eat SLOW. Lots of great flavors to like here and the Pad Thai is outstanding (I get the tofu version). Plus I've found a great shortcut off of I-440 that bypasses all the bad traffic!

Eric and Katie said...

Ed: It seems that what sets the good Thai places apart from the average is the willingness to use bold flavors and keep those flavors clearly distinct in the dishes. ModFruGal: that especially applies to the soup...that Tom Kha Gai is really good.

mIKES said...

Eric / Kate I have mixed feelings about those social media "review" sites. I actually canceled my entire trip advisor profile and reviews because of the god awful claptrap mean spirited folks were posting plus the fact that one of my rebuttal reviews was flagged for editing. You can figure out after a while what the truth is but the pain of reading these amateur journalists just ain't worth it. No wonder I stop by here day after day...

Lannae said...

So, is this place Thai or Laotian with the cover of Thai? I need Ed King's secret driving hookup to avoid the Thompson Nolensville Rds traffic. Do tell Ed!

Eric and Katie said...

Lannae: It seems primarily Thai to me, although they do reach out with other Asian foods like the Udon noodles. mIKES...it seems like the social media review sites are a mixed blessing. You really have to know the reviewer to decide if the review can be trusted. I think the best thing with the review sites is it allows us to scout out new restaurants.

EdKing said...

I-440E to Nolensville Road, right at the exit...then immediate left on Peachtree. Turn right on Logan and this is where it gets sticky. As you approach Thompson Lane, there's a left turn that's not a street...next to a bunch of trees...this little road circles around a warehouse and will put you directly on the same street as Ginger. IT'S A CLEAN ROUTE!! Once you find it, you'll love it.

EdKing said...

Most folks who write on those review sites are just merciless and unreasonable and, in most cases, don't know what they're talking about. I mean, ANYBODY who puts down CAFE BOSNA, is a BAD PERSON! I pulled up stakes on two of these sites. I CAN'T BE ASSOCIATED WITH RIFF RAFF! HARUMPH!!!

Eric and Katie said...

Ed: A mean spirited review of Cafe Bosna would cause me to throw down as well. Have you abandoned Yelp?

Pete said...

You do have to take a lot of things on Yelp with a grain of salt. There’s one individual hear in Nashville on Yelp that seems to enjoy throwing many place under the bus. I really find it useful for a lot of things, but when it comes to food, unless I’ve tried it for myself…I tend to ignore other reviews.

With that being said...I need to try this Ginger place.

EdKing said...

Yes, I had Yelp discontinue my membership. Great idea when it started...very helpful. But sites like that can doom a business too soon. And for those just starting up, the criticisms are mostly unfair and I think the result of showing up late, not knowing what or how to order, or just being in a hurry. Satisfaction & contentment these days are a rare commodity!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I tried Ginger earlier this week and loved it. As I understood from the server, the family is Laotian-American, but cooking predominantly Thai dishes. We had a bowl of the shrimp filled lemongrass soup to start and had plenty left for lunch the next day. My husband ordered the whole fried tilapia (24.95),which was light and crispy served with a yummy sweet garlic- chili sauce. I tried one of the curry dishes, traditionally made with duck and substituted chicken. It was well seasoned, although I will probably ask for more heat next time. The server informed me that they also own the Asian market next door where they source most of their ingredients. Ginger is our new favorite Thai restaurant in Nashville. I asked why they had not been utilizing much of the social media venues and was told that they had been pretty busy already. Worried they would not be able to handle the rush created by the media, they are sticking to word of mouth for now. Perhaps, this is a hidden gem best kept for people in the know.

Eric and Katie said...

Ed: I can understand your frustration with Yelp, although I always appreciated your reviews. Now you'll just have to update us directly by e-mail! Thanks for the insight Anon. I appreciate their concern about a huge rush of attention. Massive traffic can cause service problems and give people an unfair impression of a new restaurant. I hope things go smoothly for them in the next few months.

Lannae said...

Thanks ED! I love my future drive route already! Thanks Anon for clarifying the family's ethnic origin, so I can expect a fusion of Laotian and Thai flavors. Years ago, talking to my "Laotian Auntie" (my buddy) she said that nobody is gonna like Laotian food except Laotians, that is why Laotion cooks and chefs open "Thai" restaurant because people like Thai food.

viveksurti said...

I went last week. The sticky rice pudding with custard was AMAZING.

EdKing said...

It's a right turn on FOSTER! NOT LOGAN!!!! ARRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

Lannae said...

Hey E and K, this is a message for EdKing, Thanks for directions! The back way to Ginger, and the grocery stores is way better than sitting in Thompson Ln and Nolensville Rd traffic. I love it!