Review: The Ginger Exchange

Standout Asian fusion overcomes an identity crisis
By STEVE MILLER  |  September 7, 2011


Out in Inman Square, there's a sleek Asian fusion eatery where Montien used to be. Or maybe it's a sports bar. Albeit a sports bar that offers tempura with trivia night.

Either way, it's clear the Ginger Exchange has an identity crisis. It flounders between trendy pan-Asian joint and happy-hour watering hole. The direction gets lost somewhere amid the artfully lit sushi bar, doo-wop playlist (a server said it's been the soundtrack for several months straight), and Saturday-evening Ladies Night — because nothing says "Let's go, girls!" like free edamame.

But just because the vibe is a hot mess doesn't mean the food suffers the same problem. While the scope of their menu is daunting — Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean — standouts are easy to spot.

The U.F.O. (described as "sushi pizza") is interesting enough for its preparation. Imagine a pizza cut into slices, but instead of doughy pie crust, you've got a thin layer of tempura-crusted rice and seaweed. Version one of the U.F.O. ($10.95) comes topped with a bitey mix of tuna, salmon, spicy mayo, sriracha, avocado, tomato, and jalapeños. Version two ($9.95) substitutes unagi for the tuna and salmon, ditches the jalapeños and tomato, and finishes it all off with cream cheese and eel sauce.

For a light and refreshing but filling lunch, try Joe's Bao Bao ($8.95). Juicy teriyaki chicken, lettuce, and fried onions are stuffed into three bao bao buns — a soft, white, almost foamy bun cooked in wet-steam heat. A side of crisp and airy shrimp chips plays crunchy foil to the semi-sweet chew of the bao bao.

For dessert, the ice cream–stuffed mochi sampler ($5.50) boasts a lineup of strawberry, green-tea, and mango mochi patties, accompanied by — I kid you not — cherry tomatoes sculpted into bunny rabbits. Is there some tangential relation between bunnies and chewy-soft, powdered mochi? Hell if I know. But put tiny, edible rabbits on a plate, and you've got a sure win for anyone with a soul.

With a little atmospheric tweaking, the Ginger Exchange could carve out its own niche. Their strong menu has just enough quirk — and plenty of variety — to distinguish itself.

THE GINGER EXCHANGE, located at 1287 Cambridge Street in Cambridge, is open Monday–Wednesday, 12–3 pm and 5–11 pm; Thursday–Friday, 12–3 pm and 5 pm–12 am; Saturday, 12 pm–12 am; and Sunday, 12–10 pm. Call 617.250.8618 or visit

Related: Review: I Wish, Review: Bosphorus, Review: Camie's Bakery, More more >
  Topics: On The Cheap , Inman Square, asian, fusion
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   ON THE CHEAP: VEGGIE GALAXY  |  November 09, 2011
    In Harvard Square, sub-Passim, reside the health-nut pizzacrats at Veggie Planet. But take a kick down Mass Ave into Central and you'll find a chromed throwback joint sporting a similar moniker: Veggie Galaxy.
  •   REVIEW: THE GINGER EXCHANGE  |  September 07, 2011
    Out in Inman Square, there's a sleek Asian fusion eatery where Montien used to be.
  •   REVIEW: OTTO PIZZA  |  August 24, 2011
    Inside the cramped quarters of Otto, you'll find a jovial crew who seem to be enjoying the hell out of making pizza. The flaky-crusted pies rest on raised, outward-facing shelves behind the counter, displayed like portraits.
  •   WIZARD JUSTICE  |  July 19, 2011
    Andrew Slack is the co-founder and executive director of the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), a globe-spanning nonprofit that draws parallels between the Potter books and real-world problems to get young people engaged in social justice.
    It was the ill-informed e-mail heard 'round the world: "But honestly Monica, the Web is considered 'public domain' and you should be happy we just didn't 'lift' your whole article and put someone else's name on it!"

 See all articles by: STEVE MILLER