Blue Ginger: An Asian mismatch
Bryan: Somehow, I’m a sucker for Chinese food. Despite the fact that I’ve gotten sick after eating at several Chinese buffets, you can’t keep me away from eating it. In fact, whenever I travel to Chicago, I always try to eat at Big Bowl, a great Asian restaurant with a big-city twist. So when I walked into the Blue Ginger Asian Kitchen in Wyoming, I was enthusiastic to see what this relatively unknown restaurant would be able to offer.
Rob: I’m a sucker for Asian food as well — when it is done right. There are many Chinese restaurants in West Michigan, but you could count the solid eateries on one hand. Unfortunately, we won’t be adding Blue Ginger Asian Kitchen to that exclusive group. I used to have a bias against restaurants — especially Asian restaurants — in strip malls. That changed with my visits to Rak Thai (see review on this site). Food is a creation and I believe environment plays a big part in how it turns out. So for foodies, strip malls tend to take away from the experience. But a review is really about food, right? So let’s get to the meal.
Bryan: We started off with some hot tea, and then an appetizer of crab cheese and soup. I went with the classic Won Ton soup ($2), which I found quite difficult to enjoy. The noodles were huge, which I expected, but I would’ve liked a bit more density to the soup. There just wasn’t enough there.
Rob: My experience with the Tom Yum Goong soup ($3.50) was similar to Bryan’s: The soup was fairly good. It was spicy and warming, but there wasn’t a lot to be found in the broth. My Tom Yum had three average sized shrimp, but beyond that, little was found floating in the bowl, except for a few white mushroom slices. I like spicy food, but I found the broth overpowering on the heat scale. The heat diminished the subtle lemon grass and lime juice.
Bryan: On the bright side, our crab cheese (six for $3.50) was excellent. It had a lot of crab bits mixed in, which is hard to come by, especially at eat-and-dash Chinese restaurants where the crab cheese seems all cheese and no crab.
Rob: The crab cheese was phenomenal — simply the best I’ve ever had. The presentation was excellent as well. The crab cheese was served on a bed of shredded cabbage in a dish shaped like a boat. It was a nice touch.
Bryan: While we waited for our entrees, we couldn’t help but notice the random artwork on the walls. There was a nice painting of olives — but how does that have anything to do with Asian food? I have neither seen, nor tasted an olive in an Asian food dish. It seemed to be a mix of American art related to food, with some Chinese artwork thrown in.
Rob: Still, the restaurant was spotlessly clean. The walls were painted a stylish pale yellow and blue, not the gaudy pinks and purples found in some Chinese restaurants. I appreciated my surroundings, despite the mishmash of art.
Bryan: After our appetizer, we were excited for our entrees. I ordered the Orange Chicken ($9.15), a favorite of mine at any Chinese restaurant. When it was brought to the table, it was covered in a sauce paired with an orange slice. The pieces of chicken seemed to be fairly large. Size can be deceiving. Some orange chicken is more breading than meat. Despite a great presentation, the food didn’t hold up to my expectations. Several pieces had stretchy tendons throughout. Overall, the meat was tough. The dish had plenty of orange sauce, but the flavor was off a bit. What might’ve been a great dish was definitely a disappointment.
Rob: I tried the House Chow Fun ($10.55), a beef, chicken, shrimp dish with wide rice noodles and vegetables. I love wide rice noodles, but was disappointed by the generic brown sauce that accompanied the dish. You know you are at a Chinese restaurant with a lazy chef when every beef dish is served with the same brown sauce and every chicken dish with the same white sauce. At quality Asian restaurants, chefs don’t cut corners. Each dish they create has its own distinct, freshly made sauce. I didn’t find that kind of quality at the Blue Ginger Asian Kitchen.
Bryan: All in all, Blue Ginger was a disappointment. I would’ve liked to have experienced more originality to the cooking. While the crab cheese was a great surprise as our appetizer, the rest failed to meet our standards.
Rob: Agreed. Blue Ginger is yet another average Chinese restaurant in an average suburban strip mall. The restaurant tries to be too much. There are Chinese dishes blended with a few Vietnamese choices, alongside a smattering of Thai offerings. Don’t be fooled: This is a Chinese restaurant. If you want Vietnamese, there are other solid choices in West Michigan. And if you want Thai, go to a Thai place instead. Asian food lovers have few choices for authentic, fine dining in West Michigan. Blue Ginger certainly does not join that elite group.Blue Ginger Asian Kitchen ( Rating: out of 5 )
Where: 5751 Byron Center Rd (Bayberry Market strip mall)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Ambiance: Chinese mishmash
How much will it cost you: Most items are between $9 and $11.
Credit cards: All major
Contact: (616) 261-8186