From Bolivia to Japan
3808 Cleghorn Ave
The former La Paz (named after a city in Bolivia) restaurant space is now Tokyo (named after a city in Japan). I have gone to the former La Paz restaurant many times over the decade that I have lived in Nashville, not because of the food or drink, but because of the patio dining option. Me and my friends would spend time eating chips, salsa and dip and sipping on cold ones outside on the patio. I have only eaten inside the former La Paz restaurant once (when I first moved here) and thought it to be really underwhelming at best, and a bit like eating in a dark cave. But, a nice outdoor space and hanging out with good friends on a nice day really makes me ignore mediocre food and drink. It seems that this owner kept the patio dining option and I am not sure how that will work. If there could be some really great drinks and snack type foods (Japanese equivalent to chips and salsa) I could see me and my friends wanting to partake in the patio once again. I just don't know if soybean (edamame) or nori strips with tiny saki cups are the right substitute.
That was then, and this is now, and Tokyo Steakhouse is now open in that Cleghorn location. This Tokyo is owned by the same person who owns Tokyo Steakhouse in Smyrna, TN. I wonder how they compare. When I walked in for lunch, I tried to remember what was there before, but I really could not because I did not spend any time (except once) inside the building. I suspect that much of the dining area was gutted to make way for a hibachi dining area and a regular table dining area. The dining room we sat in was dark (lighting was not necessarily upgraded from the past tenant), but the booths are comfortable and gold and red glittery. This one visit, there was a family with a 2 year old seated next to us, and the only other party in the room. People say the Smyrna restaurant is a family restaurant, thus translating the Green Hills location as a family friendly restaurant. The 2 year old had made it her own by throwing everything on the carpet around her, including ice, rice and other food, straws, paper napkin bits, straw covers, paper chop stick covers, chop sticks, and almost anything that could be on the table was in a 2-ft radius around the child's highchair. As gross as it was to try to step around mushed grains of rice and food, and bits of paper and straws on this nice new carpet (now stained and sticky), it was painful to see the staff trying to pick up all they could by hand as not to bring in a carpet cleaner and vacuum while we ate our lunch. It is a pet peeve of mine to have vacuums blowing dirt into the air while I eat, so I appreciate the staff for dealing with the messy aftermath of the child and family in the manner that they did. It seems to be a theme amongst some toddler parents where they find it acceptable to allow their children to throw things (that should remain tabletop) on the floor of Asian restaurants. I see this all the time at a couple Nashville Chinese, Vietnamese and now this Japanese restaurant. Would they allow their child to do that at Margot's, Tayst or City House (places of similar price points as this restaurant), I think not.
For lunch, we got a bento box and some soba stir fried noodles. I noticed that the price points of the bento box and noodles are a $1 or 2 higher than any other Japanese restaurant in Green Hills and West End area. What came out was nice hot and tasty pile of soba noodles with some veggies in it. There was not a lot of soy sauce in the soba, so we added our own. The bento box was surprisingly fresh, with hot parts hot, and cool parts cool. It tasted good. I would say that to get out of the hustle and bustle of the Green Hills and West End area, and to sit down to a decent Japanese meal, this might be the place. For lunch on the weekend, Green Hills and West End restaurants can get really crowded, and this one has not really caught on yet, so it is possible to have a leisurely sit down lunch at Tokyo Steakhouse. We will likely go back to have a decent meal here for lunch if we ever find ourselves in Green Hills at lunch time and want a Japanese meal.
Labels: Nashville Eats