Restaurant Review

Ginger & Spice

Ginger & Spice is one of the most surprising restaurants I’ve come across in a long time. Located in a shopping center, where one might expect a more casual eatery, this restaurant has an upscale contemporary-Asian feel. Inside, booths separated by curved, frosted-glass partitions, and with floors resembling river stones set into a solid surface, line one side; the tables and benches are of a light-colored wood, the ceiling lights are globe-shaped, and each booth is equipped with a small TV. The dining room’s walls are bamboo, and the other chairs and tables are granite black.

Service by a bevy of young women is excellent, as is the food—the first time. In fact, I can’t understand why the food is so different on my return visit, until I learn that Chef Doron Wong, who trained in Singapore and who was sous-chef to David Burke in Manhattan, has left and owner Vincent Chen has replaced him with Denis Amaya.

I love the way the food is presented, in an almost playful way. Soups come in a huge bowl that’s so deep, I keep losing the spoon, although the flavor of the soup I taste is delicious, a tomato-ginger soup with egg blossoms that needs a touch more seasoning. The crisp salt-and-pepper calamari with Thai chili and curry-flavored aiolis truly scrumptious. An appetizer special offered on my visit was the inside-out salmon rolls, accompanied by a mango salad, that I prefer to the very spicy tuna-and-sashimi salad. Crispy pot stickers are crispier but not as good as the fried home-made wontons filled with pork and shrimp, glazed with citrus and cumin, and served with a citrus salad.

As for main courses, I highly recommend the soy-honey–glazed black and blue tuna, served with Asian vegetables and sticky rice and garnished with dried bonito flakes; aromatic braised short ribs with green pea shoots, radish salad, and Asian succotash; and the tempura-fried soft-shell crabs, offered as a seasonal special one evening. Also good are the cod with garlic-tomato; the lacquered duck, served pink but very tender; and the steamed whole skate wing with a Thai red-curry crust. Salmon with soba noodles and the roasted free-range chicken are more than acceptable. Thai curry udon noodles with vegetables, though, have very little flavor, and a slow-roasted rib-eye steak, a thick, wonderful-looking slab of beef, is very dry despite its pink center.

Desserts are very unusual. I like his chilled coconut-lemongrass soup, with chopped fruit, basil oil, and nata de coco (coconut jelly) so much that I order it every time. The Ginger & Spice crème brûlée, infused with spices, is also good. A banana tart comprises crisp pastry topped with caramelized chunks of banana on a bed of chocolate pastry cream, and is served with chocolate ice cream and a little cup of malted milk. My twelve-year-old guest loves the S’mores—a take on the Girl Scout cookie treat—a mound of chocolate mousse topped with a graham cracker and three toasted marshmallows.

Riviewed: November, 2005.

Restaurant Details

  • Cuisine Type:
    Asian - Pan-Asian
  • Price Range:
  • Ambience:
    Elegant modern storefront
  • Service:
  • Wine list:
  • Ginger & Spice
    1300 Route 17
    Ramsey, NJ 07446
  • Hours:
    Sun-Thurs: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Fri and Sat, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
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