583 Washington Street
Wellesley, MA 02482
Lunch 11:30am – 2:00pm
Lunch 11:30am – 2:00pm
Blue Ginger Lounge: 12:00pm-10:00pm
For those of you foodies out there who are familiar with the Asian-European fusion chef Ming Tsai, you probably know of his first restaurant called Blue Ginger. Located in the quiet suburb of Boston called Wellesley, when the restaurant first opened in 1998, it drew rave reviews for its exceptional and (at the time) new fusion type of food. People would come in from all around the country to try this place and its blend of French and Asian flavored cuisine.
In 2013, Blue Ginger doesn’t have as much of the fanfare as it used to have, but the food is still held at its highest standard. It’s very pricey, so for those of you who make a decent living, Blue Ginger is a special occasion type spot. For those of you that make more than a decent living, you probably aren’t reading this review because you’ve been there a dozen times already. I’d say that if you’re visiting Boston, Blue Ginger is only worth coming out to try if you’re in Boston for more than a week, otherwise there’s far more that you should see first in the city. If you’re local however, give it a go for an anniversary celebration, graduation or milestone birthday. Here’s a rundown of what we tried:
Hawaiian Bigeye Tuna Poke with Crispy Sushi Rice Cake and Microgreen-Tosaka Salad – This was probably the favorite dish of the night (including the entrees). It was a strange, but very tasty combination of a huge hunk of sushi style tuna on top of what could be best described as a hot, sticky-rice tater tot. The crunchiness of the rice cake with the soft, light tuna made for a really delightful appetizer – one which I would have been happy having a couple of as the main course.
Blue Ginger Charcuterie Plate – Duck Prosciutto, Foie Gras Torchon and Country Pâté – This is where the French influence comes out. The arrangement of the platter was well done and I thought the extremely rich foie gras was the best of the group. The platter also came with a really good spicy mustard that went well with the prosciutto and pate. I wouldn’t bother too much with the random Texas toast that came with the plate; instead I’d opt for spreading the pâté and foie gras on the sesame seed crackers that are on the table when you first sit. The Texas toast was just too buttery and took away from the flavors of the expensive stuff.
Sake-Miso Marinated Sablefish (a.k.a. Butterfish) with Wasabi Oil, Soy-Lime Syrup and Vegetarian Soba Noodle Sushi – This butterfish is considered Ming Tsai’s signature dish, and I could see why. Of the three entrees we had, it was easily the best. There wasn’t anything too fancy done with the fish and you’d probably be able to find a similar dish at a number of restaurants, but they do get points for perfect execution. It was cooked exactly the way it should have been – a nice, light char on the outside and light buttery meat on the inside. They did try and get cute with the Soba Noodle Sushi side, but I didn’t actually care for that all that much.
Garlic-Black Pepper Lobster with Lemongrass Fried Rice and Pea Tendril Salad with Tamari-Ginger Vinaigrette – The waitress said this is also a favorite of customers coming to Blue Ginger. Lobster is never bad, so I’ll say that while it wasn’t disappointing, there was just a little too much garlic for my taste getting in the way of the lobster. I’m sort of a lobster traditionalist where I want just the meat and a little butter, or a plain ol’ lobster roll. Again, that being said, just because it wasn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean it wasn’t very delicious.
Seared Duck Breast with Sweet Wasabi Sauce and Applewood Smoked Duck Leg Wild Fried Rice with Shiso-Bartlett Pear Purée – This third entree was probably the most “eh” of the three. The flavor of the duck was very pronounced which saved the dish, but the meat was a little too tough/chewy and the skin wasn’t crispy enough for our taste. If they had slow cooked the duck a little more like Peking duck style, it could have easily been the best of the three.
Overall though the food was excellent. That being said, these days there are so many new restaurants, television shows, and food celebrities that Blue Ginger almost feels like an aging veteran. This is both a good and bad thing. It’s bad because despite its success, the menu and atmosphere feel “standard” with nothing nuanced and that nothing has really evolved since it first broke down the barrier between French and Asian cuisine. The good thing though is that it’s still a sure thing. What they do well, they’ve done well for years, and it’s the kind of place that I’m sure very rarely disappoints. Grade: B+