Three ways to savor Traverse City’s long-awaited luxe Asian restaurant: Sip a clean, crisp cucumber mojito in the exposed-brick-and-bamboo bar while you people-watch the filmgoers flocking to the State Theatre next door. Square up to the sleek sushi bar and order innovative sushi rolls and classic nigiri. Take a table in the back (with bay views though the trees) and dine on chef Dan Marsh’s palate-tingling curries, sake-glazed sea bass, or one of the most amazing aged steaks in the city. Their pork buns—pillowy-soft steamed buns holding marinated, meltingly tender roasted pork kissed with authentic char siu sauce—were one of Traverse Northern Michigan’s Magazine’s Best Eats 2008. For more on Traverse City’s breath of fresh air, we checked in with chef/owner Dan Marsh.

Is it a project to keep such impeccably fresh seafood on the menu in a Great Lakes state?

We have it delivered five times a week from Honolulu Fish Co.—the same one Thomas Keller [of California’s famed The French Laundry] uses. We get the fish within 24 hours of it being out of the water. It comes in a cooler-lined box, bubble-wrapped, in a space blanket, Cryovac-ed with our name on it.

Japanese etiquette says you can pick up sushi using either chopsticks or your fingers. Is there any wrong way to eat sushi?

Nah. People should just eat it the way they enjoy it. But true Thais don’t use chopsticks. If you order Thai curry, you want to eat with a large spoon to get all the sauce.

Your steak is straight up, American steak-house style, but there’s something intriguingly Asian about the mushroom alongside it

It’s a Chinese black mushroom we braise in rice vinegar, Chinese black vinegar and a little sugar.

Red Ginger is at 237 East Front Street in Traverse City, 231-944-1733, 

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski