So how does a girl like me end up dancing on the line between being a food blogger and a restaurant critic? By happenstance. Be Our Guest Consulting stumbled upon my blog and thought I would be a great person to spread the word about the gluten free options at Star Ginger Asian Grill & Noodle Bar. I of course, am not a restaurant critic, but certainly did get some extra special treatment, as I had the opportunity to dine with restaurant owner Mai Pham.
Walking into the restaurant, it has a casual feel with a simplistic setting of wooden tables with fabric chairs. Some modern square windows provide natural light to this fast paced lunch spot and a somewhat elegant feel for it's more formal, full service dinner hour. The menu has just enough options to give you variety without giving you too many options that you feel overwhelmed, and the same can be said for the gluten free items, which are denoted with a blue GF circle on the regular menu.
We started our meal with young coconut juice with coconut meat, and I'm a huge fan of coconut water, so I was really excited about that. Probably the most refreshing drink I've ever had; I could have had 2 or 3 more glasses, but I had to leave room for the actual reason I was there--the food!
I was able to have a selection of items to try out including the vegetable and lentil curry; pad thai, which came with both shrimp and chicken; and thai bbq chicken with rice. Now this whole meal was truly a venture out of my normal pallet of flavor range and I found myself unusually excited about how much I really did enjoy everything. The vegetable and lentil curry, for instance, is not something I would have ever ordered at a restaurant but I found it to be a very healthy and filling dish. The thai bbq chicken was strangely addicting, and I actually found myself sneaking leftovers out of the fridge at midnight. As for the pad thai, which would have previously been my go to item? That was my least favorite of the group. While tasty, the pad thai didn't offer me as much sophistication in flavor as I would have liked.
Now for the nitty gritty of the gluten free selections: most of these dishes are naturally gluten free, but cross contamination is still a big concern. The gluten free selections have been driven by customer request, and Mai is no expert on gluten free, but she listens to your needs. The only serious issue I have is that the sweet potato fries are listed as gluten free, but they are not fried in a dedicated fryer; in fact they are fried in the same oil as dumplings. If an addition was made to the menu stating *shared fryer, that could at least bring this important fact to light, reconfirming that it is the customer's responsibility to ask questions and decide how sensitive they are to gluten.
Overall the dinner servings were generous, the food was good, and I didn't feel like I over ate, or ate anything tremendously bad for me, and yet it felt like a treat.