Our Latest Frequent Spot

August 1, 2011

Ginger Thai Restaurant
2861 Logan Street
Nashville, TN 37211
615-679-9555
http://www.gingerthairestaurant.com/

These days, when we don’t feel like cooking and we don’t feel like putting up with any restaurant fuss or crowds, we head to Ginger Thai restaurant, right off of Thompson Lane. The food is good, there’s never a wait, and the prices are reasonable. We’ve eaten there a number of times, tried an array of soups, main dishes, whole fish specials, and it always taste like home cooking. Last Sunday we were there for a quick lunch, and had duck soup, one of our favorites, and the house fried rice with squid (pictured below). The total for those two dishes after tax, before tip was $23. Normally, however, we pass on the appetizers.

Note: the link to the menu on their website takes a Borgesian turn and sends you to the Thai Palace in Bloomfield, CT.

P.S. As Rose, a commentator, notes below: on both sides of Ginger are amazing “International” markets. On one side is the Lanexang Oriental Market which stocks SE Asian goods and supplies provisions for Ginger. On the other side is a wonderful Middle Eastern market that provides everything from spices (at great prices) and fresh pita to Amish halal chickens.

Ginger on Urbanspoon

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The Smiling Elephant

2213 8th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37204
615.891.4488

I forgot to eat yesterday until late afternoon, when I decided to try out the Smiling Elephant at 2213 8th Ave. South, just north of Bradford.  The restaurant coexists with P&K Imports–as indicated by the dual signage.  [Hat tip to Marty.]  It’s a conscientious place: the uniform prices (all dishes are $8.95 at lunch and $10.95 at dinner), the menu, the healthy cooking (no MSG and the counterintuitive promise to wok with olive oil), the interior wood paneling, its internet presence, and the eager service.  It’s a family operation (background here).  The dining room is quaint–with ten or so tables.  The kitchen is open and exposed.

I ordered the Thai fried rice, with chicken, to go.  The rice was tastily fried and mixed with wedges of tomatoes, winter greens (unexpected), and cilantro.  The vegetables were al-dente, which I appreciated.  I added some Maggi and sriracha to suit my taste.  The heaping portions satiated my nauseating hunger.  I’ll be back to try more.

Another visit 1/23/10, we picked up a to-go order of the pad thai with chicken and the Khao Kai Ra-bert, which was recommended to us by the restaurant’s phone operator. The pad thai had the right combination of taste and texture that we have come to expect from the Elephant. But the Khao Kai Ra-bert was unexpectedly savory, despite sounding simple on the menu: “Mild stir fry with minced pork, garlic, and ground black pepper. Served with a fried egg and jasmine rice.” We asked for an extra serving of white rice to have enough grub for three people (and it was). The total: $26.

The Smiling Elephant on Urbanspoon

Thai Phooket
207 Woodland
Nashville, TN 37213
615.248.7933

The skinny on Thai Phooket:  Wide-ranging, ambitious menu, compared to Nashville’s other Thai restaurants.  But it can be inconsistent with food quality and prep.  Hit or miss on certain dishes, and uncomfortable in the winter.  Our second visit was quite inconsistent with our initial visit [see below for both reviews].

Architecturally, Thai Phooket is an American  roadhouse.  Not necessarily outside of the city, but in no man’s land across from LP Field.  Sitting inside, one looks out at the flood lights and desolate, vast parking lots.

There are some nice touches that make the interior more comfortable, like fresh flowers (hat tip to G) and the accommodating service.  (The soft-rock radio station is too kitschy.)  The food, however, is what stands out the most, and its location (Woodland and 2nd) is a convenient take-out spot for East Nashvillians who commute across the Cumberland.

They offer what every other boring Thai restaurant in Nashville offers:  the pick-your-curry-pick-your-meat dish.  However, there’s much more to the menu–all of which is prepared with a high degree of precision and meticulousness.  (Every dish even comes with a fancy garnish.)

They have a variety of Asian beers, including my favorite SE Asian beer, Tiger.  Our table first ordered the chicken satay, and we could taste the curry and coconut milk marinade.  Then we had a salad with cross-hatched calamari mixed with red and green onion, shreds of pickled purple cabbage and carrot, chopped cilantro, lime juice, and chili-ed, sweetened fish sauce.  Quite good. We also ordered two portions of the ban khuan, which is made much like a crepe, but with rice flour, and then rolled.  This restaurant’s version has ground chicken, black mushrooms, and scallions.  But the rolls were too mealy and dry.

For the main course, we ordered green curry with pork and the lard nar.  But the winner was the whole tilapia, flash fried and then steamed with ginger and served in a rich sauce that included pickled limes.  (Warning: whole fish = the presence of bones.) The fish was $12.99/lb (ours came out to be $14).  Our entire meal, including two rounds of beer, cost $80.  We ordered for three people, but this was too much food, as one of us had to go out to the car and rest, horizontally.

We’re excited to return and try some other dishes like the “smiling duck” and “smiling Tennessee.”

Their website is http://www.thaiphookettn.com, but it isn’t working. 615-248-7933.

Second visit:

We had a friend in town, and figured we’d have an easy, delicious meal at Thai Phooket, which we were more than enthusiastic about our first time there. Our second visit, however, was quite disappointing.  Right when we sat down, the out-of-place roadhouse felt too cold. The whole place was a walk-in cooler, even when the waiter brought out a heater for our table.  He recommended some apps, and the only interesting one was a shrimp on a stick, wrapped with egg noodles–fried to a crisp.  The sweet-chili sauce, though, tasted generic.

For entrees, we let the waiter recommend some dishes.  Again, we had the whole tilapia, flash fried and then steamed with ginger and served in a rich sauce .  This time, however, the tilapia was not fresh.  We also had a duck dish that was supposed to be steamed–as described on the menu and reaffirmed by the waiter.  But when it came it, the duck had been chopped and fried.  Not what we expected, and fried to the point of diminishing any quality of the duck.  We also had skewered breasts, which were grilled and topped with a sauce.  The dish was fine.  But none of the dishes stood on their own.  They seemed like redundant meat dishes with slightly different types of sauce and the same garnishes.

Thai Phooket on Urbanspoon