The Asian invasion

Ginger & Spice adds flavor to Dayton’s
Asian scene

Salt and Pepper Shrimp from Ginger and Spice

By Warwick Kensington

There is an absurd number of Asian restaurants in the Dayton metro area.  No matter what neighborhood in our region, it seems at every strip mall, large shopping complex, city corner or food truck rally, you’ll find a place serving everything from lo mein to sushi to pad Thai to kimchi.  Under those conditions of extraordinary competition, the places that stand out above the rest would surely produce an amazing product.  Is Ginger and Spice one of those places?  Read on to find out.

Upon entering Ginger and Spice, I observed that it had the decorative feel and ambience of an ice cream parlor rather than an Asian restaurant.  Pastel colors and white with a limited dining area of perhaps 50 seats.  All orders are placed at a counter where you can gaze at a handwritten board with daily specials and at the immaculately clean kitchen.   

On a rainy Thursday, I met with Dayton City Paper’s Epicurean Empress, Paula, and PIP (Palate in Progress) for lunch.  We tried several entrees and appetizers including:  The Wonton Soup ($3.00), The Ginger & Spice Wontons ($8.00), The Flank Steak, Mongolian Style ($12.00), Ginger & Garlic Pork ($10.00), Salt & Pepper Shrimp ($12.00), and Pan Fried Noodle Cake with Chicken ($12.00).  Wow what a feast!  While sitting at our table awaiting the arrival of our food, we were delighted to discover that the dishes would be delivered to us as they were ready.  As soon as we were finished with a dish, the next arrived piping hot.   I really appreciated this, especially when everyone at the table was sharing family style.

First to arrive was the Wonton Soup.  The craftily made and tasty wontons were somewhat squandered in a bland, watery broth that was crying for depth.  I would rather see the wontons whimsically floating in a rich and thick broth rather than bottom dwelling in a futile, tasteless abyss.  My angst with the soup comes from seeing a tasty wonton clearly made in house being overshadowed by a vapid broth.  Perhaps a simple dissolved bouillon or Glace’ could bring life to this dish (more on soup stock later).

Almost immediately following the soup came the more appealing Ginger & Spice Wontons. This take had the wontons drenched with a savory and surprisingly sweet sauce that held more of the depth that I was hoping for with the soup.  If you don’t mind a bit of sweetness with your wontons, you might like these.

Next to arrive were the Flank Steak, Mongolian style and the Ginger & Garlic Pork.  These were the star dishes of the night.  The beef was beautifully seasoned and melted in your mouth with the perfect amount of sauce clinging to the tender beef.  Equally fabulous was the Ginger & Garlic Pork.  Again, tender and beautifully sauced with fresh broccoli and mushrooms.  I would highly recommend either of these dishes.

Next came the Pan Fried Noodle Cake with Chicken, along with the Salt & Pepper Shrimp.  I was a big fan of the Noodle Cake.  Initially arriving crispy, it began to succumb as it absorbed the tasty brown sauce and flavors of the chicken and confetti of colorful vegetables.  Subsequently, the dish became more enjoyable with every bite.  This one was a real winner.  I would definitely recommend it.

Not as impressive was the Salt & Pepper Shrimp.  My problem with this dish was not the way the shrimp was cooked or the seasoning, but the  overwhelming amount of breading that swaddled it.   This wasn’t just a lightly dusted and deep fried shrimp that we usually see in other Asian restaurants but more batter dipped, thus putting the emphasis on the gloppy coating rather than on the shrimp and the tasty spicy peppers.

On a separate visit for dinner, my companions and I tried the Jam Pong ($12.00). When the soup arrived, the presentation suggested that it might be one of the best soups I had ever had, wowing us with a full cauldron size bowl of scallops, shrimp, clams, noodles, vegetables and a Korean hot sauce.  As promised earlier in this review, we are going back to soup stock, because the contents of this soup were perfectly prepared.  The shrimp were snappy, the scallops tender, the clams perfectly chewy, the vegetables and noodles al dente, but once again compromised by the same bland soup stock we received with the wonton soup for lunch.    

I am compelled to give honorable mention to a specialty beverage they were serving at dinner time, a Brown Sugar Bubble Tea.   A sweet tea with….wait for it….tapioca!   It was delicious, and the tea soaked, large tapioca pearls offered a unique texture that I have never had in a drink!  I bring this up, not only because the tea was delicious, but because it shows the ability of this kitchen to be creative and come up with something fantastic for its menu.

My conclusion?  I think it would be worth your time to pay Ginger & Spice a visit.  The service is very friendly, the food is very fresh, and you will be supporting a local establishment.  Save for the bland soup stock and the glitch of the salt and pepper shrimp, some of the dishes we enjoyed like the Flank steak, Mongolian style, ginger and garlic pork, the noodle cake and that Tapioca tea concoction did stand out.

Ginger and Spice is located at 1105 Brown St. in Dayton. For more information please visit or call 937.716.1298

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