Although pancakes were a highlight of our trip, we also experienced a fantastic dinner in Nashville that we thought we'd share with you. You might think that the city only has Southern eateries to offer, but there are also a variety of restaurants that cater to other preferences of the palate. We checked out an Asian fusion place with the catchy and cute name "Suzy Wong's House of Yum." Located on Church Street a few blocks from the city center, the space is a good compromise between too big and too small. When we walked in with a group of 6, we immediately wanted the round table in the front, complete with squishy bun-shaped stools. However, we were treated to a big round booth in the back with high walls that gave a sense of "semi-private" dining. The lighting was good for the atmosphere, bad for picture taking.
The menu is split into "Shared Plates" that are more of a tapas style, or appetizers if you looked at it the way we did. There is also a selection of "Yum Bowls" which are described as "family style"- also good to share, but a larger portion.
Since we were dining with a larger group than we usually do, we got to try more dishes, which is always exciting to us. Another point of interest on the menu was the notation of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items which we love to see- it must be such a pain for any Celiac's out there constantly having to inquire about ingredients.
A & I started with vegetable tempura ($7), which is a classic dish (and personal fave) by which we can assess general food quality. Lucky for Suzy, the tempura was almost spot on. Not too fried, good amount of crisp, good variety of vegetables. The tempura string beans were unusual, but in a good way. The only downside was the tempura sweet potato- a bit too thick-cut, making for a mealy mouthful of dryness.
We also ordered Lump Crab Wontons with Bacon ($5) which seemed like mostly fried shell stuffed with a little canned crab and nonexistent bacon. Good, but not great. As one of our friends commented "These taste remarkably like a fish stick" and this was closer to the truth than we would have liked.
The highlight of the appetizers was undeniably the Steamed BBQ Pork Bao Bun ($3). We've somehow missed the boat on these steamed bun things, but HELLO we want 100 of them. A great use of Tennessee BBQ, the bun had a tender, smoky, meaty filling encased in a doughy puff of delicious sweet airy bread. If anyone has good recommendations on where to get great steamed buns in Philly, we will personally treat you to some. YUM.
Other shared plates at our table included Sesame Steak Yakitori Skewers ($7) which were surprisingly good. The meat was extremely flavorful without being fatty, easy to bite off the stick, and well complemented by the crispy sweet pieces of wonton and sticky sesame sauce.
The Spicy Tuna & Cucumber roll ($7) was served as a handroll and lived up to its name. The spicy sauce was incredibly spicy (much too spicy in my opinion), but the chunks of tuna were large and the cucumber pieces were of good size and crunch. I personally think this would be better served as a sushi roll in order to incorporate some rice and seaweed to balance the superspice of the sauce.
Our group also ordered a variety of the Yum Bowls. A & I split the Lemongrass Vegetable Tofu Stir-fry ($9) which has a pretty self-explanatory name. Could have been a little heavier on the lemongrass flavor, but otherwise a satisfying mix of vegetables (which we can never get enough of..) and firm tofu pieces with a good saucy coating. The other note about lemongrass is that this bowl had large pieces of it incorporated in, which we weren't sure whether we were supposed to eat. Felt a little like a horse... but they were actually kind of good.
Another bowl ordered was the Peppered Beef with Broccoli and Beans ($9). In this case, the beans were green beans, and this meal also had a good mix of veggies and meat- lots of green peppers and onion (I actually want to try to make this at home...)
The last bowl was a Garlic & Holy Basil Egg Noodle Lo Mein ($9). This bowl was mostly noodles, probably needed something else to offset the carb overload, but the noodles had a good texture, chewy but not gummy. Not sure what designates basil as holy but... it wasn't really memorable.
Too full for dessert (plus our hostess had made the most amazing Black Forest cake EVER) but we all agreed that they should sell dessert bao buns. Seriously, apple pie filling in a bun? Cherry pie filling in a bun? Pecan pie filling in a bun? The options are endless.
At the end of the meal, our friend jokingly informed our waiter that "This House of Yum is NOT Yum!" which elicited a horrified gasp. We were quick to tell him that it was quite the opposite. Our check was "served" to us on an adorable little $ sign plate. Prices were great, which was another plus. Overall, a superb dining experience. Hopefully we can visit the city again soon!