Now that sushi is sold in supermarkets and strip mall joints, it’s not easy for a Japanese restaurant to stand out. So no wonder Qing “Cici” Chan and her niece Wai Cheng were striving for something a little different when they opened Blue Ginger in Southwest Ranches near Cinemark two months ago. For starters, wooden boats laden with an array of colorful sushi, sashimi and other small plates float on a narrow “river” that runs along the sushi bar. We’ve seen the floating boats in Miami and other cities, but this was a first for us in Broward. You reach out and grab the plates as they cruise by — they’re priced by color, $2 for purple plates to $6 for blue. Talk about temptation.
The menu represents an extensive selection of fresh sushi, sashimi, rolls, Japanese entrees and a few pan-Asian dishes, reflecting the cultural diversity here. Chan and Cheng are of Chinese descent and their chefs have Japanese and Korean backgrounds. The sushi chefs work quickly to keep the boats stocked with rolls and sashimi, many adorned with sauces and bright garnishes to catch your eye. The sushi-bar river also winds through the kitchen, where cooks add samples of menu items such as dumplings and slices of lovely mango roll in green or pink soy wrappers.
Ambience: Blue Ginger boasts a hip setting with icy blue hues and elegant chandeliers. Just about everything, including the sushi bar and furniture, was made at the cabinet business Chan also runs. And at the center of all the action are the friendly sushi chefs feverishly slicing slabs of gleaming fresh fish. On one of our visits, sushi chef Danny Chung serenaded a customer with Happy Birthday and ended the evening, to much applause, with the theme from Titanic.
- Tempura vegetables in a whisper-light batter
- Bracingly fresh Blue Ginger with spicy tuna, cream cheese, bits of avocado, shrimp and moist rice in a festive green soy wrapper with spicy mayo, served with creamy wasabi and unagi (eel) sauce
- The huge bento box (a great value) – miso soup, salad, gyoza and your choice of chicken teriyaki & a California roll ($15) or shrimp teriyaki, three pieces of sushi and six of sashimi ($19)
- Chicken katsu – moist slices of deep-fried chicken
- Pad Thai with perfectly cooked shrimp nestled in stir-fried noodles with a dusting of peanuts
- A good, basic chicken with udon noodles
- Tempura cheesecake
- Tempura ice cream
- Five, full-size Thai doughnuts — delicious crisp rings drizzled with chocolate and vanilla sauce
What Didn’t Work
- Flavorful, but tough, galbi – Korean-style short ribs