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Elite Street eats-Ginger 108


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    Ginger 108 is something special. It's Kinston's first Japanese Lounge. It's a sushi bar with a Southern flavor. It's where you can dine on that perennial Southern favorite Shrimp and Grits with a touch of North Carolina barbeque. It's where East meets West in Kinston.

    Sushi Bar at Ginger 108

    Ginger 108 is more than a restaurant and lounge; it's part of a revival that is sweeping Kinston. It's a culinary revival and an architectural one spurred by two people. The culinary revival owes its start to Vivian Howard who returned to her home town and opened Chef and the Farmer with her husband, Ben Knight. As star of her own reality show, A Chef's Life, she started a stampede of gourmands to Kinston. There will be more about Chef and the Farmer in another issue.

    The bar and lounge side of Ginger 108

    The architectural revival owes its soul to Stephen Hill. Stephen bought an old former department store and created Ginger 108. Incidentally, he also has renovated and owns Mother Earth Lodge (last issue's InnRoads feature), Mother Earth Brewery, Mother Earth Spirits, The O'Neil Hotel, and various other once-decaying historic buildings in Kinston.

    The calamari was so delicate

    The environmentally friendly way he operates Ginger 108 is reflected in all his projects. Every bit of seafood is on Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch "Best Choices" or "Good Alternatives" list. Ginger 108 only purchases from fishermen who are environmentally responsible. Meat and produce is bought from local farmers.

    Have you ever seen such delicious soft shell crabs?

    The magician who turns these raw materials into culinary works of art is Chef Khymi. The night we visited she prepared a few specials. Our appetizer was Fried Calamari. My entre was a delicious concoction of a salad with three soft shell crabs. Although I am not a fan of calamari, this one was perfect. The soft shell crabs are a long time favorite and these rank among the best I ever tasted.

    Dessert was a masterpiece

    Never too full for dessert, we were served a Strawberry and Lemon Curd Shortcakes with Spicy Globe Basil dessert that was as pretty as it was tasty.  I was not surprised to learn Chef Khymi is also a visual artist. Each dish was a work of art.

    Ginger 108's General Manager, Damon Futrell, is also a talented mixologist. He crafted a special drink for each course. Citrus Rose for the appetizer; Summers Cup with our entree; and Coconut Orange Dream for dessert. He shared the recipe with us in part. You will have to work to find the magic of the exact proportions but the ingredients are below.

    You can see everyone is anxious to taste those cocktails Damon made for us.

    One thing I especially liked about Ginger 108 is that they serve a nice array of "small dishes" as well as full sized plates.  So often when traveling I am faced with ordering a huge plate and being unable to finish it.

    While I didn't sample the sushi bar, the patrons there seemed to be enjoying it. Just based on appearance, it would rate an A+.

    Sandy and Chef Khymi in front of the art displayed on the wall

    The decor fit the restaurant style perfectly. The color scheme is modern and relaxing.  The entire place is filled with colorful art. Even the furnishings reflect an artistic flair. There bright green easy chairs and a cushioned banquette for seating choices as well as regular straight backed chairs. The wall art reflected the highly sophisticated art colony and center that is a large part of Kinston's revival.  

    A restaurant like Ginger 108 is the last thing you expect to find in a state known for its barbeque. It's also the first place you want to return to on your next visit.



    Citrus Rose: Citron Vodka, Triple Sec, raspberries, lemon, mint, Prosecco.

    Summer's Cup: Elderflower Liqueur, Spiced Rum, Thai Mint, lemon, lime, orange and simple syrup.

    Coconut Orange Dream: Coconut Rum, Orange Liqueur, coconut milk, heavy cream topped with orange zest.


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    Public Disclosure-- Please Read
    I recently learned of a FTC law requiring web sites to let their readers know if any of the stories are "sponsored" or compensated.  American Roads and Global Highways' feature writers are professional travel writers. As such we are frequently invited on press trips, also called fam trips. Most of the articles here are results of these trips. On these trips most of our lodging, dining, admissions fees and often plane fare are covered by the city or firm hosting the trip. It is an opportunity to visit places we might not otherwise be able to visit and bring you a great story. However, no one tells us what to write about those places. All opinions are 100% those of the author of that feature column.  

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