Even though some West Enders fear the treacherous journey of crossing the Willey Bridge into the land of the unknown (aka South Side), to taste perfection you just might have to. In a small shopping center in Midlothian lies Wild Ginger, a “pan-Asian cuisine” restaurant best known for their innovative sushi flavor combinations. When you walk in, you are immediately awestruck by the beautiful sushi bar with glass displays of fresh, raw fish offset by a blue and purple-lit water wall. The restaurant is packed and loud on Saturday nights, with almost an hour wait to be seated. I recommend reservations. After our wait, we were ushered into a small side dining room and immediately helped by a waitress who brought us cucumber water and told us the night’s specials. Even the water was excellent. Claire Murphy (‘17) describes it as “inspirational” because of its perfect temperature and crisp flavor.
Overwhelmed by all of our food options, we opted to start with grilled calamari and the Mas Roll, one of the smaller, inexpensive rolls. Within about 15 minutes, our waitress brought us our appetizers. For only $5.50, the roll was quite tasty. It was filled with noticeably fresh sashimi tuna and bright green avocado, but a flavor was missing; something that soy sauce could not add. Overall, I would give this roll a 9/10 because it was a fair price for a high quality roll, but it did need the flavor of a sauce like a Sriracha mayonnaise.
The calamari, on the other hand was amazing. While we were expecting to get small rings and coiled tentacles of a previously-frozen squid, we were shocked that for only $9 we got a full-sized squid with a delicious, freshly made mango-peach salsa. The salsa was spicy and sweet, which paired well with the tender slices of calamari. This was expertly cooked and not at all chewy or dry. I think this deserves a 10/10 for its overall perfection.
For dinner, we ordered three signature sushi rolls. The first one, the Nice Dreams Roll ($14), was filled with tempura eel and mango and then topped with cream cheese, spicy kani, sriracha, avocado, Thai chili sauce, balsamic drizzle, and creamsicle aioli. The sweet mango paired well with the tangy cream cheese and slightly spicy sauces; the rich tempura eel and avocado helped all the flavors work together. This roll is absolutely massive but impossible not to finish because even when you are stuffed, you just cannot stop eating it. Overall 10/10 for addictive qualities.
Next we tried the motherload of all sushi, the Extra Ordinary Roll ($16). Not only was it beautiful, it was the perfect combination of surf and turf. This roll is filled with avocado and spicy tuna, topped seared filet mignon, tobiko, spicy aioli, and ponzu. You will feel classy just ordering it. The sauces were mild enough that you were able to really taste the filet mignon, while still adding flavor complexity. Mia Jackson (‘17) says, “it was swagtastic” and deserves a 10/10.
Last, but not least, we tried the Lobster Paradise Roll. This roll was filled with tempura lobster tail, steamed asparagus, and cream cheese, then topped with spicy kani, eel sauce, and sweet Thai chile sauce. While this is one of the more expensive rolls ($17), it is a must have. For full flavor experience, we recommend eating an entire piece in one bite— even though you may look like a chipmunk doing so. Murphy says, “Much like Beyoncé, this sushi was flawless.” This roll gets a 10/10 because we will remember it until the end of time.
Once we devoured all of our sushi in record time, we knew we could not stop there. We needed to finish off strong with dessert. We opted for a chocolate lava cake and salted caramel cheesecake. Yet again, the servings were enormous and the taste was superb. The salted caramel cheesecake was rich and creamy with a pleasantly strong caramel flavor, earning it a 10/10. The chocolate lava cake was even more delicious than it looked. The cake was soft and melted in your mouth, and the molten chocolate center oozed (in a delicious way). It was paired perfectly with a vanilla ice cream, which melted into every bite; this was yet another 10/10.
While Wild Ginger is a bit pricey compared to other sushi places around Richmond, the quality is unbeatable. This was my first visit, and I will be sure to return, but only with a small group because it can be hard to hear over the crowd. Also, while the service is fast considering your food is made to order, our entire meal took between an hour and an hour and a half. This makes going to Wild Ginger is a bit of a time commitment when you also consider the drive to get there. However, with attentive wait staff and impeccable food, the time seems to fly by.
All photos by Elizabeth Murphy.