Tuesday, March 5, 2013

PM - Nashville

Nighttime in Nashville and I was craving something salty. Not the saltiness of a paper-thin slice of well cured prosciutto and not the coarse salinity of a glistening pretzel; I was the mood for the flavor of soy sauce. Sadly, I’m still finding my bearings as far as Nashville Asian cuisines are concerned so when I had arrived in town with time to kill, I decided to see what was near the Gulch. Looking through a few apps, I was buoyed to see a Korean restaurant only a few hundred yards away. Unfortunately, despite the hours listed online, Manna was not open that Sunday. It wasn’t until a few hours later, when my accommodations for the night were secure, that I decided to see what an Arnold Myint restaurant, PM, had to offer.

It’s been years since I last set foot into a Chinese buffet restaurant but I still have vivid memories of the crab rangoons and how I always made an effort to avoid them. That in mind, I decided that a lump crab wonton sounded much more appealing than the greasy buffet staple.
Even with the thick, eggroll wrapper these wontons were crispy and not at all greasy.
Inside the mixture of crab and cream cheese was astounding, mainly for the fact that I could see and taste the crab. While still far from my favorite in American Chinese cuisine, this was one of the best crab and cream cheese wontons I’ve ever encountered.

Even though it was the cheapest option in the shared plate section of the PM menu, I was disappointed to see just one char sui bao inside the steamer tray.
One big pork bun is a little hard to share as well.
Inside the thick and doughy bun was a fair amount of five spice fragrant and relatively lean bbq pork.

Hoping to continue with the well fried texture of the wontons, an order of Peking duck spring rolls was next.
Fresh from the fryer, these spring rolls were layer after layer of crispy wrapper.
Beneath the crunch was a welcome medley of carrots, cabbage, glass noodles, and a fair amount of roast duck.  Much like the crab wontons, this was a well cooked and nicely seasoned version of the buffet spring rolls from my youth.

Unfortunately what good will had been fostered by the small plates was dashed to bits by the arrival of the sushi.
With the crunchy shrimp roll, what would have been a decent filling of shrimp and tempura crisps was completely overshadowed by a wrapping of gummy and frankly terrible sushi rice.
It didn’t matter how much mayo and chili sauce was piled onto this spicy tuna roll, insipid tuna and bad rice ruled the day.

With a maki roll, there is at least the chance that subpar rice can hide behind an abundance of fillings and toppings but there’s no real room to hide with nigiri.
In the case of the eel and bean curd, things were doomed from the start.

Despite leaving the sushi mostly untouched, things at PM did not end on a dour note. Harking back to my disappointment at Manna being closed, I decided to console myself with the seafood bi bim bop.
In addition to the usual assortment of soy bean sprouts, kimchi, and fried egg, there was a sizeable amount of well cooked mussels, shrimp, and squid.
It took a little compromising but we even managed to share this sizeable rice bowl.
Everything mixed, it was just a matter of enjoying the pungent kimchee, seafood, and rice. I did ask for a little more gochujang but that only drew a blank face from our waitress. Instead of the sweet chili paste, I was brought a bottle of sriracha, not a bad substitute but not what I was really hoping for.

Having arrived at PM in search of soy sauce based salinity, I found solace in a well sorted bi bim bop. Along the way, there were a few satisfying if a bit homely shared plates that rounded out the dining experience. While the less said about the bottom of the barrel sushi the better, it serves as an example of where you should and where you should not eat sushi. With something as ingredient and technique driven as sushi, it should be the focus of the restaurant, not just a page to round out the menu. In the end, if I’m craving gochujang and cream cheese wontons the next time I’m in Nashville, I’ll have to keep PM in mind, but the search for good Nashville sushi will continue.

PM Address & Information
PM on Urbanspoon

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