The best Asian Fusion in Great Neck
While not quite at the same level as it was years ago when it was one of the pioneers in the Asian Fusion genre, Wild Ginger can still be considered one of the nicer, more upscale restaurants in Great Neck with decent service and excellent food.
Lisa and I have been back to Wild Ginger a couple times since the original review was written, partially because we enjoy the food there and partially because I’m addicted to buying deals on Groupon and Living Social, which Wild Ginger seems to be a regular part of. When I do the math in my head it’s actually a pretty good business move on their part, as I tend to order appetizers and drinks to the point where my discount from the Groupon is much less in reality than what it is in my head (that’s the tricky thing with Groupons–it’s only a 50% discount if you order exactly $30 of food–order $50 and it becomes a 30% discount, order $60 and it becomes a 25% discount, and so on.
In any case, Groupon or no Groupon, Wild Ginger is still an excellent experience.
When we went this past weekend, the restaurant was pretty packed. We were seated in back by the open kitchen. One thing I really liked was the fact that we could see the kitchen and all the cooks preparing our meals right in front of us. I’m an avid viewer of the Food Network show “Restaurant Impossible”, which helps me appreciate all the more how very clean and well-run Wild Ginger’s kitchen is, even when it gets busy (which is was that night).
I definitely wanted to try new things, versus the duck which I seem to order again and again. We decided to try a sushi roll, the Mars roll. This is a roll that consists of crunchy spicy lobster topped with tuna and salmon.
The presentation was beautiful.
As for the flavor, I’d say it was good, but not knock-your-socks-off-great as I’ve had at other sushi restaurants.
When we finished the sushi, a rather odd thing happened. A waiter came by our table, saw that we were finished with the sushi, and took the soy sauce contained off our table and walked over to another table across the restaurant. It was another few minutes before the rest of our plates were cleared. The one thought I had going in my head was…can’t they just buy enough soy sauce containers for every table?
For the entree I asked our server, what his recommendations were for entrees. He very quickly replied: the Red Snapper, the Wok Grilled Garlic Shrimp, the Pan Pan Noodles, or the Crispy Chicken and Shrimp with Honey Walnuts. I went for the Red Snapper.
Being Asian, the first thing that struck me was that it had no bones (which most authentic Asian fish dishes have). Being born in the United States and very much Americanized, I welcomed it. I suppose my palate was designed for “fusion” food in that regard. I also welcomed the fact that there were no fins, gills, or eyeballs as is customary in traditional non-fusion Asian fare.
The skin was delightfully crispy. The sauce was sweet; at first I found it delicious but the more I ate of it the more overpowering the sweetness was. Still, it did go well with the fish, which was steaming, tender, and flaky. The garnish on the top was supposed to be crispy, but I found it to be a bit stale.
We had the choice of white rice or brown rice. While they don’t give you a lot, the good news is that you can ask for seconds and they’ll bring it to you, no charge.
Lisa ordered the Sambal Sambal, which consisted of grilled shrimp (which were gigantic), along with grilled vegetables like zucchini, onions, and mushrooms.
It all came in a crispy bread bowl which was edible (at least I assumed it was).
All in all, this latest visit to Wild Ginger reinforced my 4 out of 5 star rating. The food will not necessarily knock your socks off, the service can be hit or miss, but it’s still one of the best places to come in Great Neck for a very good meal at a decent price.
Original Post (8/1/11)
Wild Ginger is perhaps symbolic of Great Neck restaurants in general. Inside is a fine looking restaurant with decor rivaling Manhattan restaurants, with hanging plants, a classy brick wall, intimate wicker chair seating, and an overall Southeast Asian vibe. Outside? The restaurant is in a strip mall, between a Waldbaum’s and a Rite Aid.
We went on a Sunday night. There was no wait to get seated, but the restaurant seemed fairly busy. As they are an “Asian Fusion” restaurant, there’s a good mix of different dishes, from Japanese sushi to Thai Red Curry to Sambal Sambal from Indonesia to Chinese-style fish and duck dishes.
I opted for the crispy duck with pineapple fried rice. When the plate came out, the table next to me was so impressed that they all ordered one. The presentation was beautiful, as you can see here. The duck lived up to its name, as the skin was crispy and flavorful, and yet the duck meat itself was tender and well cooked. The drizzle of hoisin sauce and scallions lent a classic Chinese flair to the dish. The pineapple fried rice was good, if a little small in portion size and slightly lacking in flavor.
Lisa had the Singaporean Rice Noodles. For health reasons, she asked them to prepare it with low sodium. I’m happy to say that the kitchen complied. Even with less salt, the dish was authentic and flavorful. All the ingredients, from the scallions to the onions to the mushrooms and Chinese cabbage were fresh, and the whole dish was very light and not greasy as I’ve had in other restaurants.
Service overall was fair. Our water glasses sat empty for a short time, but they were finally filled. Our server was a bit brusque, perhaps because he was busy attending to the large table next to us. But overall, it was a pleasant dining experience. Our meal cost about $35 (we didn’t order drinks, appetizers, or dessert), so Wild Ginger is not cheap. On the other hand, I’d put it on par with any Asian fusion restaurants I’ve had in Manhattan, where parking alone can cost as much as our whole meal did.
All in all, a solid four stars out of five. The meal and service didn’t blow me away, but on the other hand, it was very, very much above average.
Great Neck, NY 11021