Nashville Restaurants and Food
Suzy Wong’s House of Yum
1515 Church Street
Food should be fun. Eating food should be fun. Arnold understands. He’s been offering fun, inventive and delectable food in Belmont-land for several years now. With Suzy Wong’s House of Yum Mr. Myint is bringing the fun to Church Street. Not that Church Street isn’t fun already; the nightclub Play is right next door. The Midtown restaurant bridges several worlds though, and that’s what we like most. The fun is for everyone. Gay, straight, families, singles: this laid back spot encourages all sorts of folks to sit under a giant dragon and have some fun food.
Now this isn’t PM or Chah Chah. Myint’s other locations offer higher quality cuisine and come with a bigger bill. Suzy Wong’s is just good food at a reasonable price. Wontons are standard fare: crispy and tasty and yet nothing new. Pot stickers are a silky smooth visit to China and curried tofu potato pockets a tasty trip to India. The extensive list of shared plates spans Asia with a couple of twists and turns. Smashed avocado proved to be the star on one night: it’s like an elemental and zesty guacamole without any of the fussy stuff. Steamed barbecue pork bun brings dim sum to the table with a chewy bun and savory pork mixture. The spring rolls are near perfect, quite minty and served with a simple sweet honey sauce.
All of these dishes fly out of the kitchen thanks to a crack team of wait staff who buzz about the dining room to the pulsing electronica on the stereo. They keep it professional with a cool friendliness. It feels exactly like you would expect from a Church Street joint: stylish and fast paced. And yet the family next to us is sampling shared plates and the two children are happy as clams. Another couple dines with a baby bundled up in a car seat. A table of artsy forty-something’s laughs at a joke and a gay couple appears to be out on a date. It all fits.
The Yum Bowls are entrees on the menu. The interpretations of Pan-Asian classics range from Kung Pao to Green Curry Coconut Steamed Mussels. The Chicken Penang is bathed in an understated Peanut Sauce that allows the sweet potato bites to keep their flavor. The steamed brown rice goes well with the bowls and has a great texture.
Veggie Eater: This may not be the best food I’ve had, but it’s good and the visits really are fun. The menu is chock full of veggie choices. The Shared Plates portion of the menu starts with six veggie items. On our first visit, we opted for five of six of these; the sweet and sour wonton sticks, sea salt edamame, vegetable gyoza pot stickers, coriander smashed avocado, and curried tofu and potato pockets. All were well prepared and the flavors simple and distinct. This visit ended with rice balls, which essentially were fancy rice krispy balls that you dipped in a slighty spicy and sweet peanut satay sauce. I’m not normally a dessert eater, but I could learn to love this one.
On the second visit, we played grown-ups and ordered our own food. I opted for the waiter’s suggestion; his favorite veggie Yum Bowl is the Lemongrass Vegetable Tofu Stir Fry; he couched this with a warning that it was the most delicately flavored of the veggie Yum Bowls (there are six veggie friendly Yum Bowls). Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am a fan of strong flavors, so perhaps a bit of a mismatch for me, but I do try to branch out every once in a while. I’m glad I did on this occasion. I did not discern much lemongrass at all, but rather a more soy based sauce. However, the bowl was chock full of veggies: pea pods, green beans, red peppers, green peppers, water chestnuts, green beans, and chunks of firms tofu. With brown rice, it made a hearty and satisfying meal on a cold winter’s eve and served the purpose of sopping up Corner Bar happy hour beer. Better yet, you can eat the whole bowl and not feel badly, physically or emotionally.
Meat Eater: Nashville needs more places like this: playful, tasty, reasonably priced and for everyone. Thanks Arnold.