Naomi and Robert Liu sold Wasabi on 82nd Street in July 2008, then spent a year considering their next move. Maybe another business altogether?
In the end, the restaurant life drew them back, and they started fresh, with Wild Ginger on 116th. “During the week before we opened, we got about three or four hours of sleep at night and thought, ‘What have we done?'" Naomi Liu said.
That was December 2009. Almost three months later, Naomi and Robert have fallen back into a comfortable groove.
Naomi calls Wild Ginger “more casual” than their former restaurant. Although the tablecloths are gone, the elegant, minimalist dining room is decorous enough that I lamented my jeans while being led past the bright sushi bar and sleek-chaired tables.
Much of the Lius’ previous menu shows up in the new digs, and new sushi rolls pepper the list. Among the sushi choices, spicy albacore roll with ponzu sauce ($6) stood out for its shift from citrus to heat. Beef teriyaki ($15) was beautifully presented, the tender slices of beef lightly sweet and all toothsome. Katsudon ($9), a rice dish with egg, onions and breaded pork loin, bore another standout sauce, this one delicate and gingered.
The Lius kept the sushi combo dinners from Wasabi and offer a huge number of them in all-sushi, sashimi, teriyaki and tempura versions. Naomi said that tempura dishes are a popular choice among diners. And most Japanese-cuisine favorites (squid salad, gyoza, udon) show up on the menu as well.
We'd head back in for any of the options we tried, and add one of the newer sushi rolls — a little something called Mangolicious (avocado, mango and spicy lobster) or the Fireworks of Flaming Dragon, which, under the caramelization left by the burning rum, includes spicy crab salad and eel.
Wild Ginger is at 8235 E. 116th St., Fishers. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; 4:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday. Info: (317) 842-9888 or wildginger116.com.