Wild Ginger claims to be a Chinese/Vietnamese eatery, and it is — but it's more like a Vietnamese cook making Chinese food than an equal representation of the cuisines of Vietnam and China.

Not that this is a bad thing. The freshness, light sauces, creativity and deft touch with the veggies that mark Vietnamese food translate, at Wild Ginger, into highly enjoyable Chinese food with a distinct Vietnamese vibe — and a few national specialties thrown in.

Wild Ginger is nestled behind a Taco Bell and next to a hair salon in West Jordan. Because it's a takeout place, the main ambience, aside from a bench and a few Asian decorations, is the wide and welcoming smile of the proprietor.

Never have I had such good service at a takeout. She took tons of time with us, explaining various dishes and making recommendations. When, halfway through ordering, my 2-year-old walked into a table and bonked her head, the proprietor insisted I get her a Sprite — on the house — from the case in the waiting area.

And when we got our order, there was a package of fresh, sweetish cream cheese wontons tucked in, also on the house.

We tried things from all over the menu and enjoyed everything. We started with the paper-wrapped chicken and spring rolls, the former tiny packages of chicken marinated to a deep, flavorful brown and sealed in paper and foil.

The spring rolls, delicate and filled to bursting, were an almost salad-like blend of cool glass noodles and crispy veggies with pork and shrimp, wrapped in a tender sheet of rice-flour paper. They weren't fried, which added to the freshness.

For the kids' sake (and, I admit, because I like them myself) we had a few Chinese classics, including richly flavored ham-fried rice chock-full of salty ham, sprouts, onions, scallions, peas and carrots. We also had vegetable lo mein, much less saucy than the usual stuff, with delicate, flavorful noodles and deftly cooked veggies: onions tender and sweet; squash, carrots and broccoli crisp-tender; and sprouts thrown in after cooking to add freshness and crunch.

We also had the Mongolian beef, a standard presentation with thinly sliced beef and vegetables lightly sauced and tossed with very spicy peppers.

My favorites, though, were from the "Chef's Recommendations" section of the menu. The empress chicken was a huge, moist chicken breast stuffed with a thick slice of ham, breaded, deep-fried and topped with sweet and sour sauce and crushed almonds. It reminded me of nothing so much as an Asian-style Monte Cristo; if you like those, you'll like this.

Then there was the shrimp balls with tofu, something new in my experience. They were a big hit both with my oldest daughter and me. The marinated shrimp balls are densely packed ground shrimp, made by hand and stir-fried in a light but savory sauce with chunks of tofu and whole, earthy black mushrooms.

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I wanted to try the noodle soups as well as the snow ball shrimp (battered shrimp in cream sauce over steamed broccoli) and the tomato tofu (sliced tomatoes stir-fried with tofu in sweet garlic sauce) but I was stuffed with everything we had. I'll have to save them for next time. Once you find your way to Wild Ginger, you'll likely find yourself going back.

Appetizers $2.60-$8.55, soups $1.35-$5.25, chef's recommendations $6.95-$8.95, entrees $4.95-7.95, lunch $4.75-$5.25

Wild Ginger

Rating: ***

Where: 7035 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan

Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

Saturday, noon-10 p.m.

Sunday, 4-8:30 p.m.

Payment: Checks, credit cards

Reservations: None

Phone: 565-9988

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com