My new theory posits that the carrying capacity for Westernized Pan-Asian restaurants correlates directly to the local population’s appetite for spicy mayonnaise. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Wild Ginger Asian Bistro’s ability to satisfy a deep desire for Vietnamese and Thai fusion cuisine was evidenced by a recent Monday night visit. I sat near the bar and talked to bartender Dave while I soaked in an Orion beer along with the atmosphere: Hibachi grills, a sushi bar, a spacious back room—all separated with bamboo-lined partitions and stocked with modern furniture. Dave had personally recommended the Hee Ma roll—a fortress of seaweed-wrapped rolls filled with tempura shrimp, asparagus, avocado, and topped with red tuna, pulled crab stick, tempura flakes, a bit of masago, scallions, and of course, spicy mayo. “If this is your first time here,” Dave implored, “you’ve got to try it. It’s kind of like our McRib.” I’m glad I ordered it anyway, for a damned tasty thing it was, even though the sweet fried floodwall of tempura and spicy mayo overpowered the tuna completely. The spicy pad char entrée was a solid seven out of 10: broccoli, carrots, cabbage, succulent red bell peppers, green beans, and beef, accented with basil and lime leaves in a peppercorn-and-chili brown sauce. The paper moon appetizer was the one dud; a flavorless mash of minced and blended shrimp, chicken, vermicelli noodles and (supposedly) onion, fried in triangular wonton wraps and served with a sweet plum sauce. Honestly, it could’ve used some spicy mayo.
Wild Ginger Asian Bistro
3655 Edwards Rd., Hyde Park
Lunch & dinner Mon–Sun
Originally published in the April 2009 issue.