Nosh Stories: Joanna

Although everyone “in the kitchen” at Gingko Sichuan Cuisine in Fairfield, CT is from Sichuan province in China, the co-owner Joanna is not. She is from the Zhejiang province on the eastern coast of China where the cuisine is lighter and more seafood-focused.  Still, she worked for years at Hao Si Chuan restaurant in West Haven, and decided to branch out on her own with Gingko.

Gingko trees are a symbol of the Sichuan region.  Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, is filled with Gingko trees.  Joanna wanted something modern and easy to remember, which is why she chose the tree’s name for her restaurant when she opened it in November 2017.

Joanna says that Szechuan peppercorns are very common in China, although less so in Zhejiang.  While she likes the flavor of the peppercorn, she personally doesn’t eat the peppercorn itself.  American patrons, she says, are sometimes worried about the tingling sensation caused by the peppercorn: “They think ‘Maybe I’ll get poisoned.’”

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“I really love guacamole,” says Joanna, in front of the gingko tree wall art at her restaurant, Gingko Sichuan Cuisine, in Fairfield, CT

For patrons that would like to sample the flavor of the peppercorn without the “ma,”  she recommends Sliced Beef in Sour Soup, Surf Clam in Wild Peppercorn Sauce, or Sliced Chicken with Wild Pepper Sauce.  However, “Not so many Americans love cold chicken dishes,” she says of the latter option.

As for her own food preferences, Joanna loves hot pots, which allow one to “try many different foods.”  When she is not eating Chinese food, she likes to try something new. She enjoys Korean and Mexican and really loves guacamole.

She likes to try new things at her restaurant too.  For the recent Chinese New Year, the Gingko menu offered several new options.  “Chinese people like to look for something new,” she says, sharing that Chinese menus are like books, in contrast to the menus at American restaurants which are simple and short.

Gingko Sichuan Cuisine is on Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Facebook), and Joanna hopes to add it to Facebook and Instagram soon. In the meantime, she looks forward to more Americans trying Sichuan cuisine, although she laments that some still look for Kung Pao Chicken which “you can’t even find in China!”

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