Here is a quick picture I took of the sign for Ginger Asian Bistro. I finally got to have dinner there Friday evening. I’d been looking forward to the opening of this new restaurant since I’d first heard about it. Many locals have most likely read the State Journal Register articles in regards to Ginger Asian Bistro. But for those of you who many not be familiar with the owners history I’ll try to fill you in. Jennifer and John Chiang are part owners in this new venture. Previously they owned the original House of Hunan on Wabash Ave in Springfield. This was one of the city’s most successful restaurants for many years. While Hunan still exist on Wabash it is under new ownership and to me it’s not the same experience. I base this on the one time I’ve ate there.
When I first came to Springfield many years ago the original House of Hunan was somewhere I ate at often. Over the years like many others my family got to know Jennifer and John. I’d venture to say that long time customers would agree that the customer service was always some of the best in town. From my first visit to Ginger Asian Bistro I would have to say this level of service may have been taken up a notch. Although the group of people seated next to us last night may not fully agree.
As we entered the restaurant it was like old times. Standing behind the counter was John. Hunan customers will remember that when you walked in Jennifer or John would greet you on most occasions. My visit to Ginger Asian Bistro wasn’t much different from years ago. When John recognized me he immediately said hello, shook my hand and asked me how I’d been. While this was taking place the hostess was handling filling our reservation for the evening. We were promptly and politely seated. That last part is important to me. It really is hard to find a restaurant where the person who seats you is polite anymore. Yes I’m aware that in higher priced establishments this should be less of an issue. However it has been my experience this is not the case.
One of the first things you should notice when you walk in and are seated is that the building has been remodeled. Gone are the old water stained ceiling tiles you would see when this was Maverick Family Steak House. Time was definitely taken to give this new restaurant a more appealing upscale look. Which of course should be the case since this isn’t a buffet style steak house.
After being seated it wasn’t long before our waiter was at our table. Although this person may have been new he seemed very knowledgeable about the drinks and food on the menu. At one point he even gave Cheryl some help in deciding what she wanted for dinner. Normally we have bad luck with recommendations from waiters or waitresses. This was not the case this time around. I really wish I could find the take home menu that got misplaced so I could give you the name of the dish she chose. My choice was the Ginger Scallops. I had hoped that they would be similar to the Jennifer Scallops that were served at Hunan if you knew about them. Sadly the Ginger Scallops aren’t anywhere near these. Although they are definitely worth ordering if you like scallops.
After a bit of looking around I’ve found the to go menu. Cheryl had the Pistachio Crusted Tilapia which isn’t offered on that menu. A lady seated next to us who was about to leave asked Cheryl what it was that she had ordered. This dish received a positive review after being consumed. For desert we had the Ginger Creme Brulee. Two orders of this were brought to our table. The general consensus was the brulee was a little to cooked on the top. When comparing this brulee to the one I had at the Waterfront in Seattle. The Waterfront version wins hands down. Cheryl didn’t like the overall texture compared to the one we ate in Seattle. Although I probably would in fact order it again. I don’t think the third person that was with us that evening was to happy with it.
During the course of our meal we did notice that the group of people next to us weren’t fully happy with their dining experience. Although they had the same exact server as we did. As far as I could tell this wasn’t the servers fault. This tables main course had come out before they were finished with their appetizers. Jennifer was sure to come out to the table and apologize. The main courses were taken back to the kitchen. What is interesting about this is that one online reviewer has stated they had a long wait between courses. To me the story above shows this is not the case every night. Or that things have smoothed out service wise since the opening. All I know is there is a fine balance between when the different courses come out. In the past at different restaurants I’ve had long waits or seen where the main course comes out a bit sooner than you may have liked. Keep in mind however that sometimes good conversation may take away from your eating time. So the issue may be more with those at the table than the kitchen.