Ginger Bistro focuses on stylish soul food

Tuna Liu describes the style of cuisine at his restaurant, Ginger Bistro, as “Japanese soul food.”  

A steaming bowl of ramen noodles simmered with broth, vegetables and meat. Hibachi, Japan’s version of mouth-watering barbecue. And, of course, sushi, which wraps any number of savory ingredients into bite-sized morsels of umami goodness.  

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Liu likes to think of them all as comfort food — dishes that soothe the mind and belly and for which savoring is an essential part of the culinary experience.

Though Chinese by nationality, once Liu entered the U.S. 16 years ago — first residing in New York, then Jacksonville — he absorbed his knowledge of the dining industry working every job, from dishwasher to chef, in Japanese restaurants.

“It’s what I learned from, and learned to do best,” Liu said in a recent interview with The Record.

Just 28 at the time, Liu launched Ginger Bistro in St. Augustine two years ago with wife Eva.

With so much of the menu centered around fresh ingredients, especially fish and vegetables, Liu said he takes pride in knowing the food he serves is the best in terms of taste, scent and texture.

Pork Tonkotsu ramen noodles

Liu considers himself very passionate about food and said he dreamed of owning his own establishment so he could unleash his creativity and create a style of Asian cuisine that was uniquely his own.

Part of that vision is based squarely in tradition: For example, the ramen noodle dishes Ginger Bistro is known for, which begin with a pork stock — the foundation of the dish — simmered for over a day.