“Owning a restaurant during a pandemic is way harder than being a divorce attorney,” quips lawyer-turned-chef Natascha Hess, who opened Berkeley’s the Ginger Pig six months ago. After four years of operating the Ginger Pig food truck and a year at a stall inside Boulder’s Rosetta Hall, Hess and partner (and former Rosetta neighbor and mentor) Carrie Baird are thrilled to spread out in their own 2,000-square-foot space. Hess’ initial Asian street food menu was based on her years in Beijing as a student and the foods her host mother, Nalu, taught her to make. Hess and Baird’s collaboration, however, has made the Ginger Pig’s current roster more playful and tastier than ever. Hess’ classic Sichuan eggplant and char siu remains on the menu, but Baird has created a killer cheeseburger fried rice, and together they’ve added a version of Vietnamese mì xào toi, in which noodles, shrimp, and broccoli are bathed in butter, fish sauce, and gobs of garlic. It’s all delicious fun, anchored by a serious goal. Says Hess: “Our hope for 2021 is to still be here in 2022.”

This article was originally published in 5280 April 2021.

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen

Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.