Read initial review by 411 reader “Roving Reporter” below!
Submitted by occasional 411 contributor, the “Roving Reporter”:
‘Twas another beautiful day so I decided (again) to take my two o’clock lunch outdoors. I’m not really sure where to go, so I dial Hoboken411 for suggestions (he always has). He asks me to review Wild Ginger and I realize that I left (Mondays are always hectic for me) without my camera. Hoboken411 offers to lend me his super-deluxe fancy Fuji. After a quick tutorial on using ‘super-deluxe’, I head off to try Wild Ginger at 518 Washington Street (a part of the Hoboken all-in-a-row Asian triumvirate of restaurants).
I am greeted promptly and warmly and when I imply that I’d like to sit outside – am told I can sit anywhere. My server is prompt and courteous – but does not introduce himself by name. I know this is the norm in Hoboken – I just wish it wasn’t and I always notice it (I guess it has become a pet peeve of mine). In any case he is quite attentive and at no point do I need to ask for him by name. Wild Ginger describes itself as Pan-Asian. Looking over the menu I realize that this is an Asian-Fusion restaurant and while I like Asian-Fusion; I never know what its supposed to taste like. This is why I refer to these sorts of restaurants as ‘Asian Confusion’.
Wild Ginger has inexpensively priced lunch specials and the selection is different from any that I’ve seen in Hoboken. I ask my server to suggest something and he points out the Sambal Samba (Indonesian Spices). It’s different and I’m in the mood for different so I order the Sambal Samba Scallops (try saying that three times quickly). I am offered a choice of Hot & Sour or Miso Soup and choose the Hot & Sour.
While waiting for my food I look inside but am not permitted to take pictures (edit: 411 took a few later). The inside looks pretty chic with a color theme of stainless steel and yellow (if I remember correctly). The hostess stood at a hostess stand (I love these, I think all restaurants should have them) – it looked like everyone inside was busy with something (a good sign I think).
I thought the soup is very good. The bowl is above average sized and nicely garnished. I typically do not finish an entire bowl of Hot & Sour soup (especially on an 80+ degree day sitting outside), but this is flavorful and clean/fresh tasting. I’ve found Hot & Sour soup to be gritty and fishy tasting at other restaurants and generally stopped ordering it.
My Sambal Samba Scallops come next. I am awed by the size of the scallops. These ‘crab-cake’ sized scallops are fresh, hot, flavorful and juicy (good choice Server). The dish is served with an assortment of vegetables & mushrooms in a tangy sauce. Also included are two small scoops of rice – one brown, one white. I ask the server about this and he says that if the customer does not ask they just get one scoop of each. The menu does not mention the dish comes with either or that both are available. I’d have opted for brown rice (I’m a bit of a health nut) – but as it turns out, the brown rice is undercooked (or cooked without enough water) – so I’m glad I got both (I still ate all the rice, guess when I’m hungry I don’t mind).
The highlight of my dining experience came when I attempted to take a photo to show the texture and enormity of my last scallop. Hoboken411’s camera easily weighs 25 pounds and can’t be operated effectively with just your left hand (I tried – and somehow the lense cap fell back on) – so I have to rather quickly master the art of left-handed chopsticks. I call my server over and ask him if they have any left-handed chopsticks – he smirks and simply takes the two resting on my plate and reverses their positions! I should have thought of that. Armed with my now south-paw configured chopsticks, I venture over to the lonely scallop. A consensus hush fell over all of Hoboken (yes, that’s what the 2:30 silence was about) and I gently squeeze… lift… and now with the camera in my right hand… CLICK! Mission accomplished!
My bill came to a bit over $9. It appears that the prices are slightly less on the take-out menu and listed at $7.95. I am not sure how ‘Sambal Samba Scallops’ are supposed to be – but I did enjoy the meal overall. The quality of the food is excellent for the price (at least for the lunch special) and I will go back again soon.
Will become “Wild Ginger”, same owners as Ching’s Table and Watermoon Cafe. Pan-Asian Fusion. If the food is as good as I’ve heard it was at the other locations, it ought to be a success, and break the curse that has plagued this location for a long time. “Me curse you long time”.
This place has a pulse again. Permits in the window and all sorts of construction work happening inside. What will the next place be? Will it succeed, or is it already doomed (as one reader indicated that the place needs an “exorcism”)?
Had mixed reviews.. hard on wallet and now doomed!
Still wanna make a reservation?
Description – Formula for going out of business: Gourmet New American Cuisine. Upscale formal. Entree price range approx. $16-$32, Prix fix menu $70.
Services – American cuisine, BYOB, private parties available (not anymore)
Website – (waste of webspace)www.venue-restaurant.com
Address – (what next? A nail salon or realtor?)518 Washington St, Hoboken, New Jersey ( NJ ) 07030
Telephone – (was) (201) 653-6111