Ganga Asian Bistro: Kicking up Color and Spice

Sliced scallops at Ganga Asian Bistro in Matawan, New Jersey.
Sliced scallops at Ganga Asian Bistro in Matawan
Photo: Andrea Clurfeld

Ganga, in Matawan, which bills itself as an Asian Bistro, never could be called shy.

Color—from different hues of tobiko (flying fish roe); wasabi, mango and other sauces drizzled or splashed; vegetables, fanned, draped or piled high—makes nearly every plate a Crayola-worthy composition. As for seasonings, it would seem the famed Silk Road Spice Routes run through Old Bridge.

If you’re a sushi purist keen on tradition and authenticity, Ganga is not for you. But if a creation like the Foxy Lady—a salmon, yellowtail and avocado roll topped with spicy tuna and a haystack of crunchy flakes—leaves you breathlessly framing a phone pic before you take a bite, you will love Ganga.

Take the live scallop starter. Each slice of scallop was topped with a different color tobiko, creating a veritable kaleidoscope—neon rosy-orange, blinding yellow, vivid lime-green, sultry black. The slices were set on swipes of mustard-gold wasabi and served with a salad of vegetable matchsticks and a splay of cucumber: As I picked up chopsticks, I thought about taking out my sunglasses. Amidst it all, the scallop was fine.

Ganga’s style, in other words, is to let potent flavors reign. Sure, you can get simple sushi rolls stuffed with one fish, or classic fried rice. But much of the menu has a fusion sensibility, the kitchen unafraid to play with tamarind, chili or remoulade.

Speaking of remoulade, Ganga-style duck, slivered and wrapped in roti with avocado, cukes and greens, is generously streaked with a very creamy remoulade. So generously, in fact, that the sauce overwhelms the duck roll, which needs to be served hot, not room temperature, for both the meat and the griddled bread to taste freshly made, not like leftovers.

Duck roll at Ganga Asian Bistro in Matawan, New Jersey

Duck roll at Ganga. Photo: Andrea Clurfeld

By comparison, the claypot-cooked beef is plain-Jane, with just a soy satay sauce in which sugar is the dominant seasoning. The meat is tender; the peppers, asparagus and corn variously crisp or soft. I would’ve loved a side of rice to tamp down the sweet sauce.

Chirashi here is the Japanese version of a chef’s salad: Slices of tuna, both rosy and white, salmon, bass and octopus are set astride egg cake, cucumber and mango over greens and very nicely cooked sushi rice. We snatched up the fishes, unadorned and cleansing.

Chef-owner Jason Lin’s vigorously sauced and seasoned dishes go better with Ganga’s lengthy cocktail roster than with the uninspired wine list. No matter, the crowds packing Ganga at lunch and dinner ooh and ahh the plates, which go for bold—and sometimes bawdy.

Ganga, 432 Route 34, Matawan. Open daily for lunch and dinner. 732-765-8808

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