Since we moved out of the city in 2000, the boss and I have eaten once or twice at Chef Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger in (S)Wellesley MA. While the meals certainly were not horrible, they weren’t wildly memorable either. It’s been years since we’ve been.
Last night we snuck out to celebrate the boss’s 29th birthday (yes, she’s 29 again!). The wait at OGA’s was too long. The wait at Alta Strada was twice that of OGA’s. So we thought we’d take a stab at Blue Ginger, where we were seated right away. We are told by friends they don’t reserve every table in advance so they can often seat walk-ins.
Net-net, we had a stellar meal. Blue Ginger is officially on my list of fine dining outside the Boston/Cambridge city limits. It’s an unfortunately small list, so I’m happy to be able to add to it!
We started off with:
Crispy Fried Calamari with Thai Dipping Sauce which was tasty, but not exceptional. Apparently it’s a signature dish. The batter was on the thick side. The dipping sauce was wildly distinctive, but you had to consume it in units of millileters due to how strong the flavors were.
Foie Gras-Shiitake Shumai in Sauternes-Shallot Broth which was quite impressive. The shumai were ethereal (the best word we could come up with) in that they weren’t smack-you-in-the-face flavorful, but they were incredibly savory and subtle with a superb texture. You kinda wished you could just chew ‘em forever :-) . The broth was exceptional, and many of the calamari were dipped into it rather than the Thai dipping sauce they came with.
Creamless Roasted Parsnip Soup with Wild Mushroom-Truffle Ragout and Beet Syrup which was stupendous. The perfect soup for a cold night. A wonderful mix of flavors. Just enough beet to kick it into high gear. Bravo!
For her main course, the boss ordered the Crispy Skin Salmon in an Aromatic Corn Broth with Shiso-Chile Oil. The crisped-up skin was to-die-for. I assume they crisp it with a torch or something, but whatever they do, it was delectable. The Salmon was perfectly cooked.
For my main course, I ordered a house specialty, the Garlic-Black Pepper Lobster with Lemongrass Fried Rice (pictured below). It was the best lobster I’ve had in recent memory – probably since a lobster dish I had at The Blue Room in the first half of the 90s.
[For those of you with greying hair, the plating of the Lobster gave me a total flashback to the "Fighting Prawns" dish that was a staple at Stan Frankenthaler's original Salamander (in the Thinking Machines building in East Cambridge). Two huge prawns were cooked whole and assembled standing on the plate with their legs intertwined - as if they were fighting. Customers would invariably lose their cool when the dish arrived!]
To finish off the meal, we shared the Palm Sugar Cranberry Tart and Ming’s Maitake Coffee.
It was a super duper birthday dinner, and we’ll head back to Blue Ginger again, now that we know they’re playing an A game. Yes, Chef Tsai was there – hopping from table to table all evening playing the gracious host. We got to say hi.