Sunday, June 7, 2009

P.S. Noodle Pot

Nashville Restaurants and Food
P.S. Noodle Pot
1307 Bell Road

Ethnic food doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to cuisine from the same country. There are a few restaurants in town that spill over the borders and build their own theme. P.S. Noodle Pot is a welcome addition to that scene.

The restaurant is located in a humble strip mall storefront in Antioch. The interior is low key and tasteful. The sticky linoleum floor and generic chairs kind of take things down a bit; and that seems odd given the upscale dinner ware they use for service.

Noodles are the star here and the menu stays in theme while moving across Asia from Vietnam (pho) to Thailand (pad Thai) China (lo-mein) Laos (bee boun) and Japan (ramen). Along the way you get egg noodles, rice noodles, cellophane noodles and pasta noodles. The variety is a nice change of pace. We started in China with a couple of crispy, tasty vegetable egg rolls. We wanted to sample something different but had trouble finding veggie options in the appetizer section; same problem with the soups. The egg drop is good: light and delicate, but everything is either chicken of beef based. There are a number of veggie options in the entrees and the staff is happy to substitute tofu for beef.

Chicken with peanut sauce arrives in a carefully arranged swirl on a wide white plate. You can tell immediately that the kitchen takes pride in presentation. One bite later and it is clear that they also take pride in preparation. The extra large rice noodles are spectacular in texture and taste. The delightful peanut sauce balances savory, sweet and slightly spicy. Every ingredient in the dish is perfectly cooked, from the crunchy cucumber and peppers to the moist chicken and crunchy, chopped peanuts. A sweet little pop from an occasional bit of pineapple is the final touch for a truly wonderful dish.

The hot pots are the signature item at P.S. Noodle Pot. The koi see mee offers egg noodles, meat, bok choy and brown gravy served boiling in a clay pot. The homemade brown gravy comes up in a number of dishes on the menu and will definitely be part of a return visit. There are a bunch of curry and rice options to round out the offerings and some Thai salads. It’s a big menu with about 50 main items and another 20 appetizers and soups.

Veggie Eater: The world’s stickiest floor is what I will remember first about this place. However, on a more positive note, I will remember the fabulous noodles. Perhaps is my Italian heritage or perhaps my general love of complex carbohydrates, but I love noodles and they have to be really good noodles. I ordered the Pad Thai and was not disappointed. I generally like very hot/spicy Thai and found it odd that they did not ask me how hot I would like my dish. Even though the dish was mild, it was very flavorful and the noodles were expertly cooked. Frequently with Pad Thai you get a big gloppy mess; not the case here. The thin rice noodles were elastic and slightly chewy from pan frying. They were more than happy to substitute tofu on my version and there were generous chunks of pan fried tofu, along with crumbled peanuts, ribbons of egg, scallions, mung bean sprouts, and a shimmering slightly sweet red sauce. Again, I prefer a spunkier version in general, but having the noodles so well cooked was a winner in my book. Not a ton of veggie items on the list, but again, they seem very happy to substitute tofu.

Meat Eater: Once again it’s taken us a while to get to this restaurant, even though we’ve heard such good things. The readers and various reviewers (especially Lesley and the Nashville Foodies) who have suggested it are right: P.S. Noodle Pot is inventive and delicious. That’s a great combination in our book. We paid $33 with tax and tip for two appetizers and two entrees.
Update 8/21/09:
Meat Eater: The clay pot soups are a specialty at P.S. Noodle Pot so a return visit put that at the top of our order. The dish called P.S. Noodle Pot comes out sizzling hot. The brown broth is savory to the point of perfection with a slight thickening agent that gives it a silky feel. Tender beef, slightly chewy mushrooms and crunchy bok choy all retain flavor and texture thanks to perfect cooking. It’s a delightful combination and the egg noodles are like gourmet ramen: thin, tangly and tasty.
Veggie Eater: The floor was noticeably less sticky this visit, which is a plus. I had the Tom Yum Pot and it was fabulous. The broth was both delicate and assertive; lemongrass floating happily, a mystery herb (after a conversation with the owners apparently akin to lime leaves), scallions, and garlic, all with a shimmering red glow (presumably from hot chili oil). There were big chunks of tofu and whole button mushrooms bobbing away in the broth, all of this atop rice noodles. My only complaint is that it is a logistical nightmare to try to eat it; just try to get noodles, broth, tofu, and mushrooms all in one bite. Do you use a fork? Do you use a spoon? I resorted to both. Not a bad dilemma to have.
P.S. Noodle Pot on Urbanspoon


Heather W. said...

So glad you were able to stop there! We love it and our experience has only gotten better as we've become familiar with the staff there. They seem to take great pleasure in customers enjoying their food and coming back for more.

Lannae said...

OK, so 3 for three, Foodies, Lesley and you 2 like this place for food (perhaps not for the floor, but every good down and gritty Asian food joint has to have some sticky floor). I have to try this place. Coincidentally, I was thinking about P.S.N.P. as I walked out of work, and how I should try it. I think this blog post has pushed me over the edge.

yazzwho said...

Imma betcha the mysterious herb was:

Eric and Katie said...

Thanks, are correct. The owner was not able to state the name of the leaf in English and was only able to state that it was akin to a leaf from a lime tree...she stated it is used in quite a bit of Thai food, especially with fish dishes, as the leaf masks the fishy smell of fish dishes. It was a wonderful flavor; a combination of citrus with a bit of spicy heat. I've had quite a bit of Thai food in the past, but have never encountered the whole leaf used as seasoning agent (much like a bay leaf). That's what I love about eating and cooking; it is a continual learning experience. Now I know what to look for at K&S and the other international markets when I'm out and about.

Joel said...

While the food was okay, my main issue was the lack of any discernable heat in the curries, especially when ordered "native Thai." Our server must have been a daughter or relative of the owners and couldn't have been any older than 20. She knew nothing about the menu or Thai preparation. I asked her if the basil in the description of a few of the menu items was holy basil. Her reply was "What do you mean?" At this point, I knew we were in trouble. My dining companion and I ordered our entrees and our Tom Ka Kai "native Thai" hot. Both were brought to the table without any trace of heat. They were sent back to the kitchen with the "native thai" hot request again. They were brought back to our table a tiny bit hotter. We sent them back a second time -- hoping the kitchen would get the hint. They never did. Sigh. While the soup and entree was tasty, it was no where near as spicy as it had been ordered. If the kitchen cannot do something this easy, I shan't give them my money again.

Brian said...

Excellent excellent excellent! It's a very quaint little restaurant in an unassuming strip mall. Dimly lit and clean with a lot of atmosphere. I have read some reviews where people say the dishes are pricey, but this isn't McDonald's and you get what you pay for. Fresh food prepared very well and a LOT of it. Everything I had was phenomenal. You won't find this quality and flavor just anywhere. Well worth the drive!