Don’t think twice
Ginger’s adds surprising spice to Chinese dishes
Chinese food restaurants are always morphing into buffets, or knife shows with very un-Chinese-like cuts of meat. This can be cool, but damn expensive, and more like a meaty Chinese dinner that the White House chef would erect in some weird attempt at diplomacy.
The 1970s-style Almond Orchard Shopping Center across the street from the “old mall” is where I found Ginger’s Restaurant, serving Hunan, Szechwan and Mandarin. I thought, “Wow, this is a weird place for a Chinese restaurant,” which gave me some hope. And the inside looks like it was designed by some first- or second-generation Chinese couple that is more focused on the food than fashion. More hope. But even with all this hope, I did not expect too much.
Ginger’s is the name of the restaurant, and the spice is also part of the secret and inspiration behind the food. Right on the menu it reads, “At Ginger’s we appreciate ginger’s endless versatility and impressive curative properties and incorporate it into many dishes with our special homemade ginger juices, from sauces to main entrees.”
Master Chef David Quin also says, “I love ginger, the healthiest food in the world, and I want everyone to share my enjoyment of it.” I told him that I was even more into the Singapore noodle, and vegetable chow mein, but perhaps David is right; maybe it is the ginger inside my chow mein that pushed me over the top.
The Singapore-style rice noodle has a curry flavor on soft-thin noodles. It’s not heavy, but has a subtle, spicy curry taste. It’s the kind of authentic Chinese flavor you wouldn’t even attempt at home. The vegetable chow mein is a classic type of chow mein, however like the Singapore noodle, it wasn’t so heavy, nor overly salty or greasy.
My dining partner and I ate heaps of this food, and were not the worse for it. Not to mention that our bill came to $12 total. No drinks, but that’s still cheap for a well-crafted Chinese meal for two.
Hunan and Szechwan food are named after the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in South China, and both varieties are known for their heat, using red chili peppers to cope with the humid climate of the regions. It is thought that hot foods such as red chili peppers dry out and cool down the body to handle the heat and humidity in South China.
The Mandarin style is more of the Chinese-American variety. So whether you’re a purist or a fusion food fan, Ginger’s has you covered.
I have go-to favorite restaurants for the different ethnic foods in Chico. But before Ginger’s, I did not have a go-to Chinese place. You know, like a no-brainer type deal, you just pull up into the parking lot and don’t think twice. Ginger’s is that good and the service is graceful, and not hawkish. Plus, my fortune cookie said something about “prosperity.”