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Asian Spice/ Red Ginger

Al Parker - June 30th, 2008
Red Ginger has been open for only eight months, but already it’s built a reputation for quality “Luxe-Asian” dining fare in the heart of downtown Traverse City
“Business has been better than I expected,” says owner/chef Dan Marsh, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked as a chef in New York City and San Francisco before launching Red Ginger last November.
“We were packed from day one through January. It’s been good since then, and now that a lot of Northern Michigan residents are coming back from warmer places, we expect it to continue. We already have a number of regulars.”
Located between Traverse City’s rejuvenated State Theatre and Horizon Books, the November opening took place after almost a year of renovations of the aging building that once housed Kurtz Music.
“It had no HVAC, no electricity,” recalls Marsh. “It was pretty much a shell. We had to do a lot of work, put in a new sewer system.”

The result of all that hard work is a beautifully appointed, non-smoking, serene eatery in tones of red, brown and yellow that doesn’t scream “Asian restaurant.” It features a lounge area, a sushi bar and a private basement room for 32 people that can be reserved for parties or private dinners.
The main dining area seats about 130 comfortably, with plans to add a few more seats on a rear deck area that overlooks the Boardman River.
Red Ginger’s menu features the bold flavors of Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and other Asian cuisines. All meals are prepared from scratch daily, using only fresh ingredients.
“We keep things fresh,” explains Marsh. “For example, five days a week we get our tuna delivered from the Honolulu Fish Company in Hawaii. Within 24 hours of leaving the water, that tuna is on our doorstep – that’s the company’s guarantee. On a typical week, we go through about 80 pounds of tuna.”
Marsh prides himself on creating delicious dishes that explode with flavor. Red Ginger’s menu is constantly changing, but a recent listing displays Marsh’s versatility.
Diners will want to start their meal with a tempting appetizer, such as Tuna Tartar with 1+ grade Ahi tuna, chili aioli and tempura nori, or Yakitori, which are grilled chicken skewers glazed with teriyaki and served with hoisin peanut sauce. Popular appetizer staples, including spring rolls, calamari and pot stickers are also available.
Red Ginger’s wonton soup features tasty shrimp and pork wontons in a rich Chinese broth with spinach, Napa cabbage and carrots. “Our goal is to make the world’s greatest wonton,” says Marsh.
The eatery’s house salad is a colorful blend of crunchy young greens, mandarin oranges, green apple slices and toasted almonds, topped with a light curry vinaigrette.
The restaurant’s most popular entrée has been the Thai curry, a tasty blend of chicken and prawns simmered in green curry sauce with white mushrooms, bamboo shoots, micro basil and jasmine rice. Just ask and it can also be prepared with chicken only or with tofu.

Seafood lovers will want to try the Seafood Pad Thai, which features seared diver scallops, prawns, calamari and jumbo lump blue crab with rice noodles, Asian vegetables, plus sweet and sour tamarind sauce.
Red Ginger’s grilled tuna comes with steamed baby bok choy and a sesame wakame salad with tamarind sauce.
“Tuna’s a staple with us,” says Marsh. “We always have fresh tuna as an appetizer and an entrée.”
Another grilled favorite, the Pacific swordfish, is accompanied by lump crab dumplings, plum wine peppercorn sauce, garlic spinach and wasabi créme.
For beef eaters, Red Ginger offers Wok Seared Beef, a thinly sliced flank steak that is tossed with steamed broccoli and spring onions and splashed with dark soy and oyster sauce. There’s also a hearty grilled steak tenderloin served with panko potato gratin, wok-tossed asparagus and shiitake truffle butter.
For the quality of the cuisine, entrée prices are reasonable, ranging from $18 to $34. “We serve quality seafood and other ingredients,” explains Marsh. “We’re offering top grade and need to charge accordingly.”
To complement your meal, Red Ginger offers more than 100 different wines, sakes and specialty martinis, including the popular Red Dragon Martini made from raspberry Stoli, orange juice and pomegranate puree. “We like to push the envelope on our martinis and cocktails,” says Marsh.

Red Ginger is open for drinks every day at 4 p.m. Dinner service begins at 5 p.m. and continues until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and until 9 p.m. on Sunday. For reservations, call (231) 944-1733 or learn more about Red Ginger at
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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