If you want to make mediocre violins, don't set up shop next to Stradivarius. If you want to produce mediocre Asian fusion, don't set up shop next to Sapporo on Bardstown Road. Wild Ginger is relatively new to the Louisville sushi scene, and it fails to perform next to already established restaurants.
My party of seven arrived at Wild Ginger on a Saturday night. The atmosphere was about as lively as a funeral, and it took our waitress fully twenty minutes to provide us with the correct number of glasses in the right state of cleanliness. We ordered many staples of the Japanese restaurant: quail egg shooters, miso soup, ginger salad, Korean spicy squid and a quantity of sushi.
I'm convinced we could have received better service and better sushi at one of those chain groceries that provide prepackaged chemical soaked California rolls. Our food came out piecemeal, and I waited fifteen extra minutes to receive my squid after all my friends had been served. The squid was tough and rubbery, soaking in an angrily inflamed chili sauce and frozen vegetable medley. The salads and miso were respectable, but had the dull edge of prepackaged lettuce and broth.
There were several standouts among the rather bland sushi--the highlander roll was deep fried and stuffed with cream cheese and jalapenos; and the 007 roll was covered with slivered ripe avocado and festive twinkling red roe. However the special rolls were all soaked in heavy, sweet sauces, and one roll arrived wrapped in clammy cucumber with the consistency of a limp handshake. The presentation wasn't anything special, and it took us twenty minutes of begging to receive our check.
Our bill was, to put it lightly, horrendously inflated for the service and the tastes we had received. There was an eighteen percent gratuity tacked on for the size of our party, and some of the special rolls were fourteen bucks a pop. Wild Ginger was too bland, too boring, and altogether to tame to compete with other exemplary restaurants in Louisville. Bardstown Road really did not need another Japanese/Asian fusion restaurant, and certainly not one this lacking in innovation.
Photos: Elizabeth Orrick