Blue Ginger, chef Ming Tsai’s acclaimed Wellesley restaurant, will close after 19 years in business. June 3 will be its last day of service.
“It’s incredibly bittersweet,” Tsai says. “Blue Ginger was my family. It’s so much more than just a restaurant. Our best friends we met through Blue Ginger. I have employees that started with me 19 years ago. Fifteen marriages and seven children [came about] through Blue Ginger. We are celebrating an amazing run.”
Indeed, Boston Globe restaurant critic Alison Arnett gave Blue Ginger three stars when it opened in 1998, noting that it wouldn’t stay a secret for long. “There’s a feeling of confidence one notices immediately at Blue Ginger,” she wrote. “But the food, with its restrained and balanced approach to joining Asian and even Southwestern elements to Western cuisine, is the real draw.”
The decision to close was precipitated by the approaching end of the current lease, Tsai says. Next he will turn his attention to a new project called ChowStirs, a fast-casual stir-fry concept. “Picture sweetgreen, but you pick your vegetables, your protein, your sauce, and it gets freshly stir-fried within a 2-minute time frame, then it goes on your rice noodles or grain and you’re out.”
It will be nut-free and allergy-friendly, emphasizing healthier cooking methods; the chef is a longtime advocate for food-allergy awareness and a member of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Round Table. A portion of ChowStirs’ proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Family Reach, which provides financial help to families of children with cancer.
Tsai plans to debut the concept in the first quarter of 2018, in an undisclosed Boston location he describes as “excellent” and “high-traffic.” His partner in the venture is Sean Gildea of the Dartmouth Company. (They also teamed on Fort Point’s Blue Dragon, which will remain open.)
In the meantime, Tsai plans a celebratory yard sale in the Blue Ginger parking lot for June 4, the day after the restaurant closes. Food will be served; a large cache of pots, pans, and other assorted paraphernalia will be sold; and the proceeds will go to Family Reach.
“Wellesley has been awesome,” Tsai says. “There are gonna be tears.”Devra First can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.