Indulge in Culinary Comfort: A Delectable Review of Ginger & Scallion's Supreme Creations

Seattle Times Critic's Picks: Unveiling Culinary Excellence

Ginger & Scallion

Location: Ballard, 500 N.W. 65th St., Seattle

Contact: 206-453-5993

Price Range: $$Reservation: NoServices: Takeout availableAmbiance: Moderate noise level, no obstacles to access, two all-gender restrooms

Secret Congee

Location: Ballard, 6301 Seaview Ave. N.W., Seattle


Price Range: $-$$Reservation: NoServices: Outdoor seating and takeout availableAmbiance: Moderate noise level, no obstacles to access, one restroom

Dive into the philosophy of "LESS IS MORE" at Ginger & Scallion, where culinary simplicity meets supreme quality. Nestled in Ballard's West Woodland, this gem is a haven for Hainanese chicken rice enthusiasts. With a concise menu, every dish receives meticulous attention, ensuring a gastronomic experience like no other.

Founded by the visionary brothers, Akarawin "Boss" Lertsirisin and Jakkapat "JP" Lertsirisin, Ginger & Scallion epitomizes the essence of culinary mastery. Specializing in Singaporean delicacies, their expertise shines through in three variations of Hainanese chicken rice, complemented by a selection of four sauces and three tantalizing small plates.

While an enticing Malaysian/Thai-style chicken curry graces the menu, it pales in comparison to the star attraction. For the discerning vegan palate, a five-spice braised tofu option is available, although purists may prefer the authentic chicken rice experience.

Originating from Bangkok, the Lertsirisin brothers bring a wealth of culinary wisdom to Seattle's vibrant food scene. Eschewing rigid notions of authenticity, their focus lies solely on delivering unparalleled flavor. Drawing inspiration from their diverse backgrounds—Boss's tenure at esteemed establishments like Thaiger Room and Rom Mai Thai, and JP's experience at Pestle Rock and a stint in a Vegas casino—the duo crafts gastronomic wonders that captivate palates and command long queues.

In envisioning Seattle's culinary future, JP dreams of a landscape abundant with specialized concepts, each celebrating the essence of its craft. With Ginger & Scallion and Secret Congee, the brothers pave the way for a culinary renaissance, where simplicity reigns supreme, and every bite tells a story of passion and dedication.

At Ginger & Scallion, culinary mastery transcends background, with Boss and JP humbly admitting their journey into the realm of gastronomy began upon settling in Seattle. Guided by Thai chef friends, their repertoire expanded to include select dishes, among them, the revered congee and chicken rice, dishes they now wield with unwavering confidence.

This confidence finds its true testament in their rendition of Hainanese chicken rice, where the seemingly unassuming poached chicken undergoes a culinary metamorphosis. Sourced locally from Draper Valley Farms and cooked sous vide, each morsel emerges as a paragon of tenderness and succulence. For the Classic option, simplicity reigns supreme, allowing the purity of flavors to shine. Meanwhile, the Drunken variation introduces a tantalizing interplay of Shaoxing rice wine and sesame oil, elevating the dish to new heights of indulgence.

Not to be outdone, the BBQ rendition offers a spectacle for the senses, with Chinese five-spice torching infusing the skin with an irresistible smokiness. Yet, it's the dark meat in the Drunken-style that steals the spotlight, its velvety texture and nuanced flavors leaving an indelible impression.

Accompanying each serving is a vessel of rice, a veritable masterpiece in its own right. Cooked in chicken broth enriched with chicken fat, Ginger & Scallion's rice transcends expectation, imbued with an unparalleled depth of flavor. Each grain, a testament to perfection, maintains its individuality while harmonizing seamlessly with its counterparts.

Emblazoned with the label "KING STAR BRAND JASMINE SCENTED," the rice stands as a beacon of culinary excellence, a humble yet majestic companion to the culinary wonders that grace the plates of Ginger & Scallion. In each bite, a symphony of flavors unfolds, a testament to the unwavering dedication of Boss and JP to their craft. At Ginger & Scallion, every dish is not just a meal but a journey—a journey into the heart of culinary perfection.

At Ginger & Scallion, the art of customization transforms each dining experience into a symphony of flavors, where tiny dishes become canvases for culinary experimentation. These miniature vessels invite diners to craft their own personalized symphony of tastes, elevating each bite to a realm of specialized super-tastiness.

The ginger-and-scallion sauce, a concoction of golden-oiliness intermingled with visible scallion bits and shredded ginger, tantalizes the senses with its allium-forward aroma and irresistible flavor. So addictive is its allure that once sampled, resistance proves futile—a testament to its culinary prowess.

For the adventurous palate, the Thai-spiced herb sauce beckons, its faintly minty essence betraying hints of intrigue. A few drops suffice to unleash a torrent of heat, vinegar, salt, and distant fruitiness—a delightful assault on the senses that leaves a lingering, albeit gratifying, sensation.

Meanwhile, the Singaporean pickled chili sauce offers a delightful balance of citrusy acidity and swift spiciness, offering a tantalizing complement to the thick, molasses-y sweet soy sauce, imported from Thailand's Kwong Hung Seng brand.

Accompanying each chicken option is a small bowl of tingly, gingery clear broth, serving as both a palate cleanser and a flavorful dip for the succulent chicken and fragrant rice. Garnished with delicate wisps of cilantro and frizzled tangles of scallion, each bite becomes a harmonious symphony of flavors.

While portions are generous, the small plates offer a tantalizing array of textures and flavors. From the refreshing crispness of baby cucumber rounds to the indulgent crunch of fried chicken skins served with nuanced sweet-and-sour sauce, each dish is a testament to Ginger & Scallion's commitment to culinary excellence.

Short but meticulously curated, the drinks menu mirrors the food selection with precision. Whether it's the crisp refreshment of Tsingtao beer or the zesty tang of Radley & Finch chenin blanc, each libation is carefully chosen to complement the intricate flavors of the cuisine.

In the realm of non-alcoholic offerings, Thai iced tea, hot teas, and local sodas provide a refreshing respite, rounding out a dining experience that transcends the ordinary, inviting guests to embark on a culinary journey unlike any other. At Ginger & Scallion, every dish is an opportunity to explore, experiment, and indulge in the art of flavor creation.

In the realm of culinary authenticity, the ambiance at Ginger & Scallion and Secret Congee remains refreshingly uncontrived. With no pretense of design firm intervention, both establishments exude an air of genuine charm that mirrors the authenticity of their fare.

At Ginger & Scallion, the midsized room is a testament to simplicity done right—airy and bright, adorned with colorful bottles and jars that double as storage-as-décor. Imperfectly painted walls and a lacy-looking divider held together with zip ties add to the laid-back charm. The eclectic soundtrack, featuring the likes of the Arctic Monkeys at an energizing yet unintrusive volume, completes the ambiance, inviting patrons to savor their meals in a setting devoid of pretension.

Similarly, Secret Congee's evolution from a clandestine walk-up window to a modest spot in Shilshole Bay embodies the essence of authenticity. The Lertsirisin brothers' refusal to disclose their identities was initially perceived as gimmicky, until it became clear that their intention was to share the credit collectively. This ethos permeates every aspect of Secret Congee, from the unassuming setting to the immersive experience of their signature savory rice porridge.

The menu at Secret Congee is a testament to the brothers' commitment to culinary excellence, featuring eight meticulously crafted variations made with high-quality ingredients. From the comforting tom yum shrimp to the traditional-but-better chicken and slow-cooked brisket with kimchi, each dish is a symphony of flavors that transcends the ordinary. The addition of soft-boiled or century egg, crispy rice noodles, and golden-fried youtiao further elevates the experience, ensuring that every visit is a culinary adventure.

The parallel between Ginger & Scallion and Secret Congee extends beyond their shared focus on one great dish. Both establishments exude a pleasantly low-stakes aesthetic and offer unfailingly friendly service, with Boss's omnipresent presence adding a personal touch to the dining experience. In a world where authenticity is often overshadowed by gimmicks and trends, Ginger & Scallion and Secret Congee stand as beacons of genuine culinary excellence, inviting patrons to indulge in the simple pleasures of good food and good company.

Prepare for popularity overload at both Secret Congee and Ginger & Scallion, where loyal followings and influencer hype converge to create bustling scenes that may test your patience.

With Secret Congee's four-year legacy as a cult favorite, expect it to reach capacity well before closing time, particularly on weekends. To avoid disappointment, savvy patrons opt for online ordering, ensuring their savory delights can be enjoyed in the comfort of their own space or amidst the scenic backdrop of Golden Gardens, albeit with a touch of anticipation.

Meanwhile, Ginger & Scallion's rising star status means enduring waits of up to 45 minutes or facing a fully-booked reservation list, especially during peak hours. However, strategic timing—such as arriving early on less-crowded weekdays or exploring their newly introduced lunch service—can offer a glimpse of comfort-food paradise without the hassle.

Despite the challenges, the sheer joy derived from indulging in their culinary creations makes the perseverance worthwhile. So, brace yourself for the crowds, arm yourself with patience, and prepare to embark on a gastronomic journey that promises to exceed every expectation.

In conclusion, while navigating the bustling scenes and enduring the occasional wait may test your resolve, the comfort-food joy awaiting at Secret Congee and Ginger & Scallion is undeniably worth the perseverance. From Secret Congee's soul-soothing porridge to Ginger & Scallion's meticulously crafted chicken rice, each bite offers a glimpse into culinary excellence that transcends the ordinary. So, embrace the crowds, seize the opportunity to explore their tantalizing offerings, and prepare to savor the unforgettable flavors that await at these culinary gems.