HOME > Chowhound > Pacific Northwest >

Discussion

Has Wild Ginger Always Been this Bad?

  • s

I've been in Seattle for a year and have steered clear of Wild Ginger for dinner based on a bad lunch experience there and negative reviews I have read. Having received a very well-intentioned gift certificate from some friends, we decided it was time to give it a try. Our experience: hostess underestimated our wait time by half an hour (and didn't bother to stop by to let us know), cold satays, rubbery scallops far past their prime (3 dried on a skewer set us back almost $7!!), overpowering sauces that reduced clams and prawns to annonymous textures and generally way overpriced for what it was. We could have eaten for a week in the ID for what we spent and enjoyed not only superior food, but fresher ingredients as well. To their credit, dining room service was fast and friedly and they have a great space...but the kitchen falls waaaayyyy short. I've read it used to be better...has it really gone downhill that much?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience(s) at Wild Ginger. My experiences there (last ones in April) have been great, although I haven't had the Scallops or Clams. I thought the Satays (Chicken & Beef) were wonderful, as was the Duck, and the Siam Lettuce Cups. The Prawn dish was average. We didn't have to wait more than a minute or 2, but I think we went early, like 6:00pm or so. I also got a free dessert when I told them it was my birthday. Another time I was there for lunch and had the spring rolls which I really enjoyed. Zagats survey at Zagat.com rates them the #1 popular restaurant in Seattle. I would also be curious as to what other people's experiences there have been like.

    6 Replies
    1. re: LT

      I forgot to mention that I also love to eat in the ID, and you're right, the ID restaurants are a better value than the Wild Ginger, but a totally different kind of experience. My favorite place in the ID is the Honey Court, great food and great value. If money is no object though, I'll take the Wild Ginger anytime!

      1. re: LT

        Another vote for the Honey Court.

        1. re: Nikel

          I had a great meal at Wild Ginger and can't wait to go back on my next trip(in 3 weeks). The Duck was to die for and the Satay was yummy and the sauces I had were indeed "complex". Has anyone tried the Halibut cheeks?

          Enjoy.
          Frank

          1. re: iron frank

            yes wild ginger is that bad! Went for lunch,asked for a seat by the window, told they were reserved, got sat by a party of 10, seats by the window never got sat while I was there. My glass of water had a greater IQ than my server. Scallops dried up and tasteless, Duck was OK, but dont eat the prawns also very dry.Wild Ginger lost alot when they moved, I think they left their chef in the moving van!!

      2. re: LT

        While our opinions on Wild Ginger clearly differ, we certainly see eye to eye on this one!! I'm surprised Honey Court doesn't have more visibility on this board as I believe it is truly some of the best Chinese food to be found on the West Coast. I lived in San Francisco for a long time and tried dozens (and dozens) of places throughout the Bay Area and Honey Court Tops them all!! The Bay Area still offers superior dim sum in my opinion, but when it comes to 'saucier' fare, Honey Court stands alone. Have you tried to sizzling pepper beef with onions, mushrooms, and whole garlic cloves?...out of this world. Cheers!

        1. re: Stanley

          My Wild Ginger experience was fine, but the prices freaked me out a little. Re the superior HONEY COURT, their whole talapia, if it's still served, is quite nice also. I'll order the sizzling pepper beef next time.

      3. I found it totally mediocre. My scallop satays were fresh, but ridiculous for the price. Likewise, the lamb satay. Had an okay bland Cambodian soup, but the real kicker was the seven spice beef, I think it's called - the most boring, goopy, sweet, kid-food slop, and a real small portion of it at that. For such a beautiful space, and terrific service, I was surprised at how unsophisticated the food ultimately was. The problem, I think, is too much hype.

        1. I've been a long time fan of Wild Ginger, but, prior to a recent visit to Seattle, hadn't been to the new restaurant location. My wife and I went there for a Saturday lunch, and we were both disappointed. We started with several vegetable satays which were perfectly fine, though not particularly exciting. We also had a prawn satay served with what was described as a "complex Cambodian dipping sauce." The prawns were overcooked and arrived luke warm. The dipping sauce was tasty, but did not redeem the problems with the prawns themselves. We also had the duck, which I think of as a "no fail" Wild Ginger specialty. But, alas, even the duck, which also arrived luke warm, was off. The skin was not as crispy as usual, and the meat not as juicy as usual. It also lacked its usual intensity of flavor. The only ordered dish that met its previously experienced high standard was the green beans with pork. Because of our complaints about the luke warm food, we were given a free serving of ginger ice cream, which was also as good as always.

          I hoped that my recent experience was a fluke, given the consistent high quality of Wild Ginger in years past. But, judging from the comments in this string, it would seem that the expansion of the restaurant has had a negative effect on the quality of the food. How sad.

          1. I went to Wild Ginger over the weekend during a Seattle trip and thought it was outstanding and I thought the prices were reasonable. I live in So. Ca. and if this restaurant was in L.A. the prices would be 30% higher so they get an enthusiastic thumbs up from me. I go to Seattle a few times a year and will definitely return to Wild Ginger.

            1. It was never good even from the start. It's overpriced, over-dressed fake Asian food for tourists.

              A friend of mine spoke with the chef of Wild Ginger some years ago (off the record, of course), he basically said that he went to open Jeem's in Redmond to get back to making "real" food.

              I guess it's like a good actor who slums in the occasional bad romantic comedy in order to serious work. Although I haven't been back to Jeem's in over a year or two since their quality has gone down as well.

              17 Replies
              1. re: HungWeiLo

                I don't understand "fake Asian food" or "real food."
                Do they claim to make the exact same meals you would get in China, Viet Nam or Thailand? I watched Anthony Bourdain in Western China last night and the diet there seemed to be based on yak. Is there anywhere in the U.S. you can get yak meat, cheese or tea? Does that make every Chinese restaurant in the U.S. fake and unreal?
                I don't think it's a crime to cook for the palettes you're serving to, especially if you want to stay in business.

                1. re: tofuburrito

                  You are exactly right about WG. They are cooking to the palates they are serving to. that means uneducated palates who have no clue what Asian food is supposed to taste like. This is why you see all the vitriol directed at WG. They claim to be some kind of "Asian" restaurant; when, in fact, what they are doing is on par with PF Chang's and Benihana.

                  Of course, there exists a market for PF Chang's, Benihana, and WG. But those with any palate whatsoever, know that WG is not doing anything that resembles food you will find in the countries they are trying to replicate. Since the majority of restaurant goers and (especially) tourists do not know any better, WG continues to thrive.

                  1. re: tofuburrito

                    I understand your sentiments. But it's "fake" from the perspective of the original poster, who seems to enjoy authentic Asian food in the ID a little more than westernized Asian fusion food at Wild Ginger. There's nothing wrong with "un-authentic" fusion food, as it can be done very beautifully. But from the several occasions that I've dined there, I must add to my echo of the original poster's comments with the conclusion that they just strike me as PF Chang's with dim lighting.

                    And besides, who are we to argue with the owner/chef if that's also his feelings towards the food?

                    To answer your question about yak meat - there are some Szechwan places around here where I've seen it as a whiteboard special. Although lamb is much more common in dishes originating from western China.

                    1. re: HungWeiLo

                      sounds as tho they've fallen very far since I was there two years ago. My first experience was so wonderful (food, service, everything) that I went back during the same week with a different group of friends who also loved it.

                      Has it moved from across from Symphony Hall?

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        Keep in mind the original post was from 2001, and restarted this week. The "move" referenced in the original posts was in 2000.

                        People, why are we resurecting 7 year old posts? WG is the same, has beenofr over a decade, and you either like it or don't.

                        1. re: bluedog67

                          I disagree. I loved WG in it's old location (7-8 years ago) but they went down hill when they moved. It seemed like the kitchen was overwhelmed at first, but then they never got better. It's disappointing.

                          1. re: akq

                            I'm with you .... I grew up traveling to Asia and still loved the old WG .. but the new one lacks everything the old one had ..the atmosphere is corporate while the old was not and the food lacks, well just lacks. I've heard that in order to make money they have to cook a huge number of meals a minute (there is a formula) ... but I'm glad they have the triple door downstairs and my guess is WG pays for it!

                      2. re: HungWeiLo

                        I don't think WG even qualifies as fusion... they are really (poorly done and overpriced) pan-asian.

                        1. re: clearskies0810

                          Check out all the health code violations at Wild Ginger. Yummm. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/34...

                          1. re: landguy

                            not to stick up for WG, but what do you think the health dept. would do at some of the favorite Seattle dive small Thai and Mexican, Salvadorian joints...? HaHa! Someone said "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger!"

                            1. re: Papa Kip Chee

                              They do go to those restaurants and those restaurants have better scores than wild ginger. As the article states those restaurants are the ten most sited. I personally do not pay to much attention to those inspections but I have not gotten food sickness yet.

                              1. re: Papa Kip Chee

                                In regards to the Health Dept, I occasionally look at the list of closures and it's usually the small dives that are closed for violations.

                                Why would WG be singled out by the Health Dept?

                                I could never understand the owner's conspiracy theory when all he had to do was take care of his own businiss.

                        2. re: tofuburrito

                          Yak is primarly used in Tibet by the indiginous Zang ethnic group. There are a few raised in westen Yunnan and southwestern Qinghai provinces, but mainly by Zang people living there. The local yaks are thought to be a crossbred of true yaks and cows, as there are a good number of domesticated cows there as well. The meat is similiar in flavor to beef, but usually more tender. The cheese made from the milk is acid congealed and dried--as many things are in the extremely dry ambiant weather. The animals are easily distinguished from cows by the long tassled hair growing from their bellies.
                          Lamb is the more preferred meat of the Hui and Uyghur muslim ethnic groups, thought also eaten by the Zang. Quality is amazingly high in areas near the salt lake of Urumqi in central Xinjiang Province, though ranchers in Gansu Province argue that theirs is better due to the plethera of grasslands. Cheese is also acid congealed and dried, but sometimes sweetened with sugar for an interesting treat.
                          Black goat is another meat eaten in the area of northwestern Yunnan Province by the Naxi ethnic group, centered around picturesque LiJiang. And the Yi ethnic group in eastern Yunnan near Qi Dian, Shi Lin, and Tang Chi use the milk to make cheese.

                          1. re: tofuburrito

                            Yak is primarly used in Tibet by the indiginous Zang ethnic group. There are a few raised in westen Yunnan and southwestern Qinghai provinces, but mainly by Zang people living there. The local yaks are thought to be a crossbred of true yaks and cows, as there are a good number of domesticated cows there as well. The meat is similiar in flavor to beef, but usually more tender. The cheese made from the milk is acid congealed and dried--as many things are in the extremely dry ambiant weather. The animals are easily distinguished from cows by the long tassled hair growing from their bellies.
                            Lamb is the more preferred meat of the Hui and Uyghur muslim ethnic groups, thought also eaten by the Zang. Quality is amazingly high in areas near the salt lake of Urumqi in central Xinjiang Province, though ranchers in Gansu Province argue that theirs is better due to the plethera of grasslands. Cheese is also acid congealed and dried, but sometimes sweetened with sugar for an interesting treat.
                            Black goat is another meat eaten in the area of northwestern Yunnan Province by the Naxi ethnic group, centered around picturesque LiJiang. And the Yi ethnic group in eastern Yunnan near Qi Dian, Shi Lin, and Tang Chi use the milk to make cheese.

                          2. re: HungWeiLo

                            The original owner of Jeem's has been gone for at least two years now.

                            1. re: smalt

                              I used to like WG quite a bit, but feel that their food has been in decline the last few years. I've also had really inconsistent results downstairs at Triple Door.

                              I will not be back to WG.

                            2. re: HungWeiLo

                              I totally agree with HungWeiLo - overpriced fake asian food. It's never been good and I have never understood the raves that place has gotten over the years.