Three Wild Gingers and Andy went to the Wild Ginger to sushi out. Nastassya and I had loads of fun (Crystal, the other ginger, is holding the camera).
Wild Ginger is located at 388 North University Avenue (801-691-1177), Provo, Utah where the old JBs used to be. I’m sad JBs is gone since it was where I took my then elementary school aged kids out to eat. JBs had comfy booths and was very familiar, but Wild Ginger is much better and improves with each visit. I have come four times and the staff works hard. The major change this time was the whispering television above the sushi-bar.
I love sushi. Even bad sushi. One of my favorite delights is cold, grocery-store sushi and a bottle of ice-cold Coke on a hot afternoon. My taste in sushi comes from my love of Korean kimbap. Kimbap is the ultimate Korean snack food until after dark when the last Seoul Subway has run and I still have three or so miles to walk before I get home, leaving me to eat soondae, odaeng and chicken feet with the drunks practising their English. Sushi and kimbap are similar (rice and goodies wrapped in seaweed paper). The primary difference is there many more varieties of sushi.
Wild Ginger, like every other Asian restaurant in America, takes traditional Asian food and twists it so their patrons will come back. American sushi lacks the subtlety of Japanese sushi, but better matches our taste preferences. Which do I prefer? The best sushi bar I’ve ever been to was a neighborhood place in Nonhyeong-dong, Kangnam, Seoul, Korea run by an old Japanese dude with a chainsaw smile and terrible English, making traditional sushi and staying open after midnight. The worst: SFO. The biggest problem with American Sushi is the goop we insist on slathering all over the place. The biggest advantage: we would rather have fun while eating rather be bound by tradition.
Wild Ginger is not near as good as that Korean sushi bar, but if it were I could not afford to eat there. Here is how I grade three of their plates:
- Orange Julius Roll — B (too loose, but the goop was okay)
- Unagi Nigiri — F (lies, lies, lies — not unagi nigiri in any way shape or form)
- Red Snapper Nigiri — C- (stale and rather fishy)
- Tobiko Nigiri — D- (the nori tastes like newsprint)
- Octopus Nigiri — B+ (surprisingly tender)
- Texas Crunch — B (good texture from deep frying and crisp cucumber)
- California Crunch — D (flavorless except the soy-goop)
- Las Vegas — D- (mayo, soy-goop and cream cheese? really?)
- Salmon Crunch — C (not bad, but unmemorable)
- Crystal Crunch — B+ (simple with fun texture)
- Diet Dr Pepper — F- (another place that insists on Pepsi products only)
The best of the evening was the Crystal Crunch sushi roll and the service. The service is prompt and very friendly. They didn’t frighten Nastassya and they maintained the table professionally. There were other families with toddlers and babies who enjoyed themselves. The music was understated and the lighting perfect. They also blocked the view from the side windows with an outside vertical garden, so I didn’t have to see the neighbor’s dumpster.