When Jenny Wang moved to Norton Commons 11 years ago, she felt like she was home. Comforted by the familiar village-style architecture of the neighborhood, it brought back fond memories of her native China.
“I loved their concept immediately. With everybody close to one another, you have a neighbor next door who says hello to you. It is easy to hang out and have fun together,” said Wang. She said Norton Commons offers a way of life. “Working, living entertaining is all in this area. People have a release from the stress of working every day by having fun together at concerts or events.”
She moved to the United States in 2002, working as a realtor for several years before embarking on owning and managing her first Wild Ginger restaurant on Bardstown Road in the Highlands more than eight years ago. In August 2017, she launched a second Wild Ginger location in her home neighborhood of Norton Commons.
Wang said in her native China she was exposed to a wide variety of cuisines but always loved and wanted to serve Japanese food. “I feel like it is not just food – it is art. You can have personal touches with Japanese food and make it fresh and creative.”
“It’s a great neighborhood concept and so multicultural. I just love this subdivision because the people here are kind, nice and supportive. It was not some big plan. It was just about coming here to serve this neighborhood with a family kitchen. People come here so they can feel like they’re home,” she said.
When she opened the Highlands Wild Ginger restaurant, Wang said her original cuisine concept was fusion. “It was trendy to meld Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, even French,” said Wang. But since 2016, she decided to evolve her concept to focus more on authentic Japanese cuisine in her menus at both locations; such as Japanese curry, calamari from Japan, and the traditional Bento Box.
Wang said she plans to introduce Ramen Noodle nights soon featuring seven different styles of noodles including cold, vegan, spicy and a green tea buckwheat noodle to accommodate the healthier and more organic eating patterns of her customers.
“We want to provide quality food that is fresh, trendy and creative,” said Wang. “That is fundamental for Japanese food.” Her dishes are complemented by Wild Ginger’s selection of 18 different Japanese sakes as well as new sake cocktails such as mango cucumber. Wang said she looks to her customers to give her feedback and new menu ideas as well.
Fema Shneydman, who lives in nearby Crestwood, has been a loyal patron of Wild Ginger for more than four years, and recently sent Wang a menu after visiting a Japanese restaurant in Miami. The “big bowl” concepts ended up on Wang’s newly released menu for both locations.
“It’s a very authentic Japanese restaurant and I think it’s one of the best in Louisville,” said Shneydman. “The food is always fresh and delicious. My son loves every sushi item on the menu. I don’t even drink usually, but I tried a sparkling sake recently, and it was very unusual and delicious,” he said.
The food is outstanding, Shneydman said, but it is the exceptional customer service that brings him back time and again to Wild Ginger.
“She really takes care of her customers. At Norton Commons, it’s a great atmosphere. Most people walk to the restaurant, so it’s a neighborhood place.”
In the neighborhood, the Norton Commons business community has been key in helping to promote her restaurant with social media and marketing, said Wang. “If you have any questions or need any information, they are a great resource and supportive.”
Business owners meet monthly to strategize new ways for all the businesses to continue to attract more people from outside the subdivision as well as Norton Commons residents. “We are still a new restaurant here,” said Wang. “I really appreciate the hard work, and how we are just all continually growing together. I have confidence we can grow this business.”