Sweet Ginger, [Union Square, Somerville, MA]

I tried this place when it first opened, what six years ago? It wasn’t very good. Too sweet. No spice. So, I took my money elsewhere. But tonight, on a whim, I decided that we needed to try this spot again.

The room is a warm mustard color. It was well-cooled, okay, it was darn chilly in the space. The open kitchen must have some pretty strong ventilation since it doesn’t smell when you walk in in spite of the open kitchen. However, every time they fired a spicy dish, folks in the dining room did cough.

We ordered a tempura vegetable, Tamarind Duck, and the Crispy Chicken Basil which the waitress recommended. This isn’t a true tempura. A little too heavy for that name, but the veggies were cooked nicely. The dipping sauce was unusual for a Thai place, but complemented the vegetables well enough. The vegetables were green beans, sweet potatoes, broccoli, onions, and strangely, baby corn.

The Tamarind duck was a huge mess o’ duck with tons of pineapples, some onions, mushrooms, more baby corn, and peas. The sauce was rustic, the way my home tamarind sauces are when you have pressed the cakes, and not the processed stuff. The peppers used to spice this dish were subtle but the heat builds as you eat. The Chicken Basil makes the duck portion look small. This was enough chicken to feed a family of four, but the vegetables were disappointing. Just onions [since we stated NO green peppers.] I could only eat about 1/3 of this dish. Lunch tomorrow will be good. The spice level was hot. Hot enough to make your nose run, but not hot enough to make you sweat.

I chatted with some employees at the end of the meal, and was told that in the future, I could order any dish on the menu and ask for half meat, half vegetables. Knowing this, I am ready to explore this menu. Why? It wasn’t sweet food. It wasn’t too salty. There is more fish sauce than citrus juice, but I can live with that given lime prices right now. I am not ready to proclaim this restaurant to be worth a detour, but, it is certainly a valid expression of Thai food [surely not Thana Thai Kitchen] only blocks from our home and that is worth celebrating!

3 Likes

Wait, you want less meat, or more?

Other than that, sounds interesting.

~ Kiran

thanks for the report. We went only once a few years ago, but it’s close by and we will return.

@KWagle. Much less meat… or maybe the strategy is to get one meat dish and one vegetable, but then we would have to agree as to WHAT we ordered which can be a challenge. We want a more balanced meal where the meat portion of our plates is in the 30% range, though in restaurants, I would be happy with 50%.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold