While its name might conjure up thoughts of kung pao scrambled eggs and General Tso's gyro, the new Red Ginger Asian Diner turns out not to be a diner at all. Instead, the eatery occupies that largely unfilled niche between full-scale restaurant and takeout shop. Here, everything served is made in-house.
Once you've ordered at the front counter, you'll be given a number to display at your booth or table. By the time you've found a seat, the food will start flying out of the open kitchen -- sometimes a bit randomly. But at these prices, it's hard to quibble -- especially when a "2 for 20" option on the menu allows two people to order two appetizers, two entrees and two side dishes from a special roster for a mere 20 bucks.
You can't go wrong with the properly peppery hot and sour soup or with classic wonton soup featuring sheer little dumplings in a savory broth. More of a meal is the large-size Westlake wonton soup, an egg-drop broth that also floats vegetables and shrimp.
Spring rolls are light and crisp, but you'll want to bypass crab wontons, deep-fried little packets of surimi and cream cheese. Hard to believe the kitchen making such delicate wontons also fashions the doughy minced pork-filled pot stickers or the heavier -- and blander -- chicken buns.
Instead, go for the chicken lettuce wraps, a chicken and vegetable stir-fry to be bundled up in cold, crisp iceberg leaves. Winning salt 'n' pepper wings are wok-seared with chili peppers, plated with Asian slaw. The entree-size meatball noodle soup boasts big, savory pork meatballs, but the bowl is too small, overflowing with too many noodles and not enough broth. And while a fearlessly spiced minced chicken sauce adds allure to dan dan noodles, overcooked pasta undermines the dish.
Entrees are plated with rice, portioned for single servings. Thai basil tofu and vegetables is a bright, appealing dish; black pepper shrimp is full-flavored rather than fierce. Tender pieces of beef and crisp-tender florets make ginger broccoli steak a hit, but a surfeit of sweetness defeats General Tso's chicken. Both pad Thai and Thai fried rice with chicken make for easy eating.
Just say the word, and your cheerful server will deliver takeout containers for any leftovers. With your check, you'll also get fortune cookies. Still, you don't need a little slip of paper to tell you that a night out with the family doesn't have to cost a fortune.