In March 2012 VegCharlotte had a dinner meetup at Ginbu 401 Sushi/Chinese! Ginbu 401 has the usual veg friendly appetizers you should find at a good Sushi place – edamame, vegetarian spring and egg rolls, and a veggie tempura plate. But of course we all wanted to try the vegetarian sushis! They had several varieties – Asparagus Roll, Avocado Roll, Cucumber Roll, AAC (Asparagus/Avacado/Cucumber Roll), Seaweed Roll. I ordered the Avocado Roll, which was good, but the AAC roll was even better! The surprise hit among the veggie sushis, though, was a new item … a sweet potato roll. Really.
The dinner menu is a pretty comprehensive list of most of the Chinese restaurant classics you are familiar with – everything from fried rice, Pad Thai, lo mein, egg foo young, and steamers. A large portion of their menu – the “401 Specials” – feature different styles of dishes – Hunan, Sa-Cha, Szechuan, Mongolian, Sesame, Kung Po, General Tao, Teriyaki, Spicy Garlic Sauce, Sweet & Sour, etc. – and almost all of them can be ordered with your choice of chicken, beef, shrimp, scallops, and – of course – tofu! Another plus – most of the menu items have detailed descriptions which makes dining decisions easier – i.e., ” Stir-fried broccoli, mushroom, bell peppers, water chestnuts, and baby corn in a sweet and spicy garlic sauce.”
I had the Sa-Cha tofu – ordered extra spicy – and was very pleased. I’ve had a lot of sweet-tasting sa-cha sauce recently, but this tasted as it should – salty and spicy, not sweet at all. The vegetables were very high quality (important if you’re vegetarian!) – broccoli FLORETS not stalks, carrots, thick slices of zucchini, peppers, etc. – all still slightly crunchy and not too greasy. The tofu had a good texture, too – chewy not soft.
(On a side note, why is it that a Thai restaurant will try everything to talk you out of ordering a spicy dish, but in a Chinese restaurant they will cheerfully dump an entire bottle of peppers on your selection if that’s what you want???)
My partner ordered Hunan style made with tofu, and this was also very good. A lacto-ovo vegetarian ordered Egg Foo Young, and was served a gigantic portion which she said was great. Several ordered the Spicy Garlic Sauce, some with tofu and some with just veggies, and while I didn’t taste this it looked great and seemed to be a hit with the crowd.
The portions are generous, and it’s a good value for the money – most of the tofu dishes were $7.95, which is about what you’d pay at a Mama Fu’s or similiar for half the amount of food that isn’t half as good.
I didn’t order desert, but if you eat milk, our Event Organizer Ian claims the red bean ice cream is “divine.”
The only down note is the service was – not exactly bad, I reserve the word bad for service that is rude or unfriendly – but inept. Perhaps the waiter was new, or perhaps they are not used to dealing with large groups (it’s not a very large place; lots of cozy booths and a few small tables). Water glasses were not kept filled; there was some confusion regarding orders (somehow they totally misplaced mine, but quickly made it for me); some dishes were brought out piping hot while others were tepid. However, the food was good enough I’d definitely give this place another try. Ian had also eaten here before when the service was “on point”, so hopefully this was an anomaly.
One Location: 401 Providence Road, Charlotte, NC