Black Ginger comes to Greensboro
By: Jennifer Zeleski
Similar to a bartender perfecting their best drink, a chef must also perfect their sushi. The Triad has no shortage of sushi bars to choose from, but a new one just opened its doors. Black Ginger (located at 435 Dolley Madison Rd.) opened on May 21 and is looking to stand out from the crowd, despite being off the beaten path.
The restaurant is found behind the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market off of Guilford College Road and West Friendly Avenue. If you feel like you’re getting lost (or that you don’t recognize this small pocket of Greensboro), follow the small yard signs yielding Black Ginger’s name, and you’ll find it next to Breakers Sports Bar.
The interior of the restaurant is open-concept, with a black-countered bar in the middle, and a multitude of booths for family seating. The left-hand side of the restaurant has smaller tables and high windows, which offers nice natural lighting in what could be a somewhat darker dining experience. My boyfriend Peyton and I were seated promptly and overwhelmed by the number of options on the menu. We also invited a close friend, Gabe, to try out the new sushi spot with us, which gave us the opportunity to try several rolls as a group, rather than a mere two from the extended menu. We decided we would go with four rolls total, but our challenge was to debate over which were worth our first impression.
The initial roll that caught my eye was the “Greensboro Roll,” which I expected to be a standard roll with an additional type of fish, similar to what most sushi restaurants offer as their city’s namesake. Instead, the description included spicy tuna, pineapple, and cucumber, topped with avocado, scallion and wasabi cream. A far cry from what I was used to seeing on other sushi menus. The ingredients alone nailed down its place among the four.
Peyton decided on the “Over The Moon,” which was also a spicy tuna roll, but with tempura flakes, topped with fresh tuna more tempura flakes, spicy mayo and masago. Masago is orange roe, or fish eggs, of Capelin. Masago hardly influences the flavor of the sushi overall but can add a hint of added color. Gabe was convinced of the “Snow White” thanks to the shrimp, as well as crabmeat and avocado, topped with white tuna and tobiko (very similar to Masago, also a roe used for topping). The final of the four rolls had to be the “Frosty Melty.” Aside from its amusing name, the roll featured crabmeat, avocado, and cucumber, topped with eel sauce and seared cream cheese. This was the upgraded California roll I was looking for.
The names of the rolls were creative, and our order hardly covered them all. The “Candy Cane” (shrimp tempura, cucumber, cheese and avocado, topped with spicy tuna, tempura flakes, eel sauce, scallions and masago), the “Fire-Crackers” (crispy crab meat, topped with drizzled Sriracha, eel sauce and sweet and sour sauce), and the “Two Buddies” (shrimp tempura and cucumber topped with sweet shrimp and avocado) are all rolls I plan to try in the near future. I am not yet convinced on the “Tarantula Roll” (crispy soft shell crab with cucumber, topped with spicy tuna, spicy mayo, eel sauce, tobiko and scallion); thankfully its ingredients sound less intimidating.
Our server offered us a house salad for the table due to the slight delay of a large sushi order, which came with three creamy dressings (French, ranch and white sauce), and fresh dark green lettuce. It was a kind offer that allowed me to curb my hunger but didn’t distract from the excitement I had for the sushi. Gabe sipped some of the green tea he had ordered, but the glass kettle only had one tea bag for around 12 ounces of water, so it was weaker than expected after steeping. If you plan on ordering tea, be prepared that it might not be as strong as you’re used to.
Thanks to good conversation and a fresh salad, the wait passed quickly and our server brought four beautiful, colorful plates of sushi before us. She made sure we recognized the “Greensboro Roll” first, which was in fact, very green. The namesake wasn’t just for the city, and I appreciated the pun.
The “Snow White” was tightly wrapped and looked pristine on the plate, whereas the “Frosty Melty” was hard to miss. It was topped with more than a generous helping of cream cheese. The “Over the Moon” looked to have the softest texture due to the spicy tuna.
Like a bunch of seagulls going after beached French fries, we dove for our desired pieces and were not disappointed. The “Greensboro Roll” was creamy due to the avocado and wasabi cream, which could be a slight deterrent for some, but its slight spice made it refreshing and savory. Gabe described it as refreshing.
The “Frosty Melty” on the other hand was not for the faint of heart. I will admit, the cream cheese was overwhelming, but being one to ask for extra cream cheese on a New York bagel, I was impressed. Drizzled with eel sauce, a molasses-like soy, added just the amount of sweetness you needed to cut the dairy. I paired it with wasabi and it hardly needed an extra dip of soy sauce.
Peyton’s highest recommendation was the “Over the Moon,” which had a great spicy flavor, and a crunch thanks to the tempura flakes. It was the softest of the lineup (aside from the cream cheese), but the flavor made up for the overall texture. If you’re a fan of spicy tuna rolls, this would be a solid choice.
The surprise of them all was the “Snow White,” which reminded me of a fancy California roll with shrimp, but in the best way possible. The white tuna was light yet flavorful, and the shrimp gave the roll a savory crunch. We devoured every roll, and the orange slices on every plate (as well as the pickled ginger) helped clean our palettes from the variety of flavors.
If your friends are sushi addicts, this could be a new place for a meetup, but if that’s not their forte, the menu has a long list of Asian fusion appetizers, a selection of salads, and more recognizable dishes such as fried rice, orange chicken and Mongolian beef. Note, there’s also a petite menu for kids, so all of your bases are covered for family and friends.
The price could add up quickly, but it comes in around the same as other Asian restaurants in the area. Each of the sushi rolls (aside from the specialties like lobster) were an average of $10 each, and other dishes were priced accordingly.
The good news? Black Ginger is yet another location to stop while you roll your way through Greensboro, chopsticks and all.
Jenn Zeleski is a student contributor to YES! Weekly. She is originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Communications at High Point University.