Wow, Wild Ginger has been around for almost 25 years! Rick & Anne Yoder, inspired by their travels to China and Southeast Asia, opened their original location on Western Avenue in 1989 – the same year I moved to Seattle. Since the beginning, Wild Ginger has been committed to serving the most authentic tasting Asian street food in an upscale setting. Offerings include specialties from China, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Thailand, and beyond.
Now, of course, it’s very common to find this type of food at dozens of great Seattle eateries – but Wild Ginger did it first – and in my opinion, they are still doing it right.
Joy, Marvin and I headed down to Wild Ginger on Saturday night to enjoy a few of our favorite dishes.
Of course, we started off in the bar…
Wild Ginger has an amazing wine list, but since Marvin offered to buy the first round of drinks, Joy and I splurged and ordered a cocktail called The Butorac ($14, yikes). Bombay Sapphire East, St. Germaine, muddled lime & Thai basil. Yes, they were fabulous. We sipped them as it
rained hailed like crazy outside! How nice to be at the bar, warm & dry, with a tropical cocktail in hand.
We moved into the dining room and Marvin immediately placed an order for Siam Lettuce Cups. These might just be one of Marvin’s favorite foods of all time. Simple, clean flavors of lightly grilled fish, roasted peanuts, lime juice and tamarind – wrapped in a crisp lettuce leaf and folded up with Thai basil and fresh dill.
Marvin could not get enough of his favorite item on the menu. We ended up ordering two!
Next came a tried-and-true favorite, Sichuan Green Beans, which used to include pork, but now are 100% vegetarian and they still taste fantastic. And finally, we decided to try something different – a curry called Rama Setu – inspired by the cuisine of South India and Sri Lanka.
Marvin and I spent 3 weeks in South India and Sri Lanka last month, so I wanted to see if this unusual dish would really taste like the food we ate on our trip.
BINGO. The flavors in Rama Setu tasted spot on. I guess when you grind your own spices and make your own curry, it is possible to capture the exact flavors of a certain place. Well done, Wild Ginger!
Back when Wild Ginger was still located below Pike Place market, I used to take kids there as part of cooking class. We’d tour the kitchen and watch the chefs working away at lightning speed. Then Rick Yoder would join us at the satay bar and help the kids grill Thai chicken skewers before we all sat down to an amazing lunch.
I asked Rick about his team in the kitchen… “Where is everybody from?”
Rick told me, only half joking, that he liked to hire cooks right off the boat. “If a guy has worked in too many western kitchens he can lose some of the skills and cooking techniques from home.”
The restaurant appears to have kept this philosophy. You can read more about the chefs at Wild Ginger here.
Yes, there is cheaper Asian food in our town. And, there are plenty of upscale Asian fusion restaurants around, too. But, after 25 years, Wild Ginger is still one of the best.
If a pricey Asian food dinner is not in your budget, we recommend a visit to the bar for a cold Singha and an order of Siam Lettuce Cups.
Wild Ginger Restaurant & Satay Bar
1401 3rd Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101