Last Friday night, my friend V and I decided to try out the new restaurant in Inman Square, Ginger Exchange (http://www.thegingerexchange.com/). I have to be honest, I wasn’t really that excited about another Asian restaurant popping up in my ‘hood. We already have Spice and Rice (which is usually my first choice for Thai or Japanese), Koreana (which I haven’t tried) and some other Chinese food places. The very fact that I have never entered Koreana is validation that another Asian food restaurant would probably be wasted on me. Don’t get me wrong I love some Asian cuisine but Spice and Rice fits my bill every time. They make me very happy from sushi to pad thai to udon noodles they are the bee’s knees. Their lychee martini also only adds to the love.
Ok, enough love fest for Spice and Rice.
I was really hoping for an Italian restaurant or possibly a pub type place (Bukowski’s is great for a drink, but their menu is seriously lacking) or maybe a tex-mex place just something that wasn’t another Asian food restaurant, but I wasn’t consulted when the lease was issued, so I must move on.
Despite this less than exuberant feeling about the origin of cuisine, I was excited to try Ginger Exchange. I had peaked at the menu online ahead of time and initially thought the selection was interesting but the prices seemed a little steep. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the weird animated characters on the menu (they was also on the printed menu) but I was ready to try the place out.
We arrived and were offered a high top table or a place at the bar. We selected the high-top but quickly moved to the bar since the seats didn’t have backs and there was no where to put a purse or coat, except the floor. I should also mention that we were seated immediately and it was 7:30 ish on a Friday night. So seated in backed chairs at the bar with belongs stored on handy hooks we dived into the menu. The bartender/waiter informed us that the menu had just been updated and that the prices had been dropped. This was in fact true and the web page menu was out of date, so I was pleased by that change.
We decided to share the pork dumplings appetizer. These were the largest dumplings I have ever seen, but I don’t really think that was a good thing. The wrapper on the dumplings was quite thick and not very delicate. The filling was fine, nothing special. The accompanying sauce was also pedestrian. The company however, was fantastic.
My main course was a coconut curry “pho” bowl. It was indicated to be a spicy dish and I asked to have it made as mild as possible. The whole thing was like a noodle soup with chicken. The serving was humungous. I had plenty for leftovers for lunch and ended up not even being able to finish that serving. The flavor was fantastic-please note, I have never had a dish like this before, so I can’t really compare to anything else, but I really enjoyed it. I will say that it was still quite spicy and had quite a kick. I will state here that I am a big baby when it comes to heat-so keep that in mind.
Overall, I really like the atmosphere and colors. I did find the furniture to be quite flimsy, the bar stools and even the table seemed like a strong wind or large serving dish would knock them over. The music in the background was totally 80’s which I loved, but was a little odd for the restaurant. The portions were generous and pricing seemed appropriate. The server was helpful, nice and attentive. I really enjoyed my meal and will be having it again (but it could be takeout). I would recommend Ginger Exchange, but my first choice in Inman for Asian would still be Spice and Rice.
My co-diner also wrote a review of this meal you can link to her post here: http://shesmycarriebradshawthatis.blogspot.com/2009/11/ginger-express.html