There is one question that every roiling and revolting stomach hates to hear when you are standing at the door of the restaurant whose food has been on your wish-list and whose name has been emphasised more than once by trusted ones: "Do you have a reservation?" So when a greeting smile followed by the question followed by "We are usually full. So we always recommend prior booking," were dropped on us the first time we hit Ginger, there were the usual "Oh no!" and "Should have known better." But apart from that, it only forged rather than dissuade our determination to return soon with the unanimous conclusion, "This place is surely in demand!"
After our first failed attempt, a booking was readily made before we went "Knock! Knock!" at Ginger all over again. A happy welcome onwards we were shown to our table. With the outlet closed shut, window panes painted to complete opacity and facade illuminated by it's-halloween-day kind of lighting, Ginger looks like a box of secrets. Inside the restaurant is divided into two major sections - the front portion is small with seating arrangement for twos and fours, while the rear is much larger and is arranged to host bigger groups and parties. The kitchen, counter and small bar are all sandwiched in the partitioning middle zone. The blue walls are devoid of any paintings or fancy overdo. Instead, mirrors, chandeliers and some Indian wooden and metallic handicrafts adorn the core of the eatery. Overall, it felt warm and secluded inside even though outside the street saw quite some traffic.
Ginger is conveniently located at close proximity to Harris Park Station and there is street parking throughout the area).
Ginger's menu is quite extensive covering most of the better known Indian vegetarian, non-vegetarian as well as Jain dishes. We ordered Barrah Kebab(Tandoori Lamb cutlets) and Chili Chicken for starters. The starters are priced between $8 and $30. Since we had ordered kebabs, it took about 20 minutes before they were served with a yoghurt based mint sauce and raita (herbs and spice infused yoghurt). Looking at the bones singed black we had our concerns, but they were put to rest as soon as we sliced into the flesh. The lamb had been cooked perfectly to a textured dryness, so characteristic of tandoor baking. The Chili Chicken (Chinese inspired Indian favourite made by sautéing marinated and deep-fried chunks of chicken with onion and capsicum) was a generous serving of sauce-drenched succulent chicken nuggets. It would have earned a perfect score but for the heavy-handed addition of vinegar.
For the main course, we had Garlic Naan, Prawn Malai Masala, Fish Masala and Rezala Lamb followed by Mango Lassi and Gulab Jamun for dessert. The main dishes range from $17 to $26. We loved the fluffy butter-coated naans. The Prawn curry lived up to its name with the richness of coconut milk and the sweet notes of cashew nut paste. In fact, this gravy was so dense and plentiful that it undermined the quantity of prawns. The Fish Masala and Rezala Lamb were well-balanced in their flesh to gravy ratio. The fish fillets were rendered impeccably soft and the lamb was cooked to appropriate tenderness. The strength of the shimmering orange-brown gravy of both dishes had been optimized by the tangy sweetness of tomato which culled the rebellious ferocity of onion, ginger and garlic. And therefore, both items tasted wonderful.
In spite of the opulence of the curries, the drinks and dessert made our day. Those soft, warm, rose scented and cardamom & pistachio sprinkled balls of Gulab Jamun were absolutely gorgeous. Our Lassi, a luxurious blend of mango and yoghurt, heavy and fulfilling as it was, mollified the intensity of the main course.
Although our appetites were met by the booking ordeal, the experience was worth the wait and even if lines were crossed with vinegar and malai masala, the palatable bribes paid to our sweet tooth and taste buds by the rest of the lot are reason enough for Ginger to pocket a 3.9/5 from me. It might not belong to the league of pocket-friendly restaurants of inner-west Sydney, but the homely ambience, the service and the food impart it a feel worth experiencing.