Blue Ginger

5769 Turner Rd, Longwood Station, Nanaimo tel: 751-8238

Blue Ginger makes some tasty food, but unfortunately we left feeling ripped off by high and hidden prices.

I'm always keen to find a non-greasy option when I'm travelling around the Island and I'd heard good things about Blue Ginger. A pan-Asian approach, heavy on the Japanese, Thai and Chinese with a smattering of California, the menu is too long to manage effectively either in the kitchen or as a customer. Similarly, some of the combinations, like strawberry and sushi, seemed a little risky to me.

Located in the Longwood Station development in the North end of Nanaimo, it's a nice, new space and with some interesting design features. We were seated fairly quickly and were immediately offered tea. It's customary in Asian restaurants to offer complimentary tea when you seat a customer - common knowledge? Apparently not, we were later surprised to be charged $3.75  for a small pot of tea. I  observed that patrons seated after us in the restaurant, also received the same offer of tea and all but one accepted. This is clearly a sales practice the servers have been instructed to perform. Similarly, when Patty ordered a beer, the server up-sold him a large size beer that was not listed or priced on the menu. When the bill came, we saw the larger size was actually more expensive by volume than the small beers. Grrrr....this makes me mad.

We ordered the spicy tuna sashimi ($16) to start, while we were trying to make some decisions on the super-long menu. It seemed like a high price for sashimi and it was. It was presented beautifully and the spicy sauce was tastier than many I've had, but the portion was too small to legitimize the price.

For our lunches, I ordered the agadashi tofu ($6.5) and the wonton soup ($6.5). The tofu was crispy and hot, but the pieces were too big and I had to cut them in half (with a chopstick) to eat them. The soup was a winner, with homemade wontons, fresh vegetables and bbq pork.

Patty had the $10 lunch special - rice, salad and soup, with two selections from the 'special' list. This was decent value, but wasn't as carefully prepared as the other items we ordered. The soup (choice of Tom Yum or Miso) didn't arrive until after Patty had begun eating the rest of his meal and was not anywhere as good quality as the wonton soup I ordered. The rice, described as Indonesian fried rice, was flavourful, but the salad was a bit of a snoozer with only a teaspoons worth of dressing plopped on top. For his 'special' items he ordered the chicken teriyaki and the tempura. The tempura was good and well portioned, but the teriyaki had too little chicken and the sauce was thin. 

Overall, we were reasonably happy until we got the bill. The food had some notable high points and the low points weren't disastrous, but nothing spoils a dining experience more than feeling deceived by hidden costs. I might dine at Blue Ginger again next time I'm travelling through Nanaimo, but I would order carefully and be suspicious of the service.

reviewed January 8, 2007