The redeveloped White Way Cleaners complex has become a destination for food lovers, as Carrington notes: "It has stealthily racked up beloved simple pleasures, from the chicken soup at Taco Mamacita to the hand-tossed pizzas at Bella Napoli; from Juanita Lane's evil deliciousness at Dulce Desserts to any and all of the luscious paint-colored confections at Legato Gelato."
And now there's a new little palace of treats to explore: "The latest enterprise to win my affection at the corner of Edgehill Avenue and Villa Place is Nomzilla Sushi et Cetera, a tiny green-and-orange hole in the wall between Dulce and the seductively appointed Edgehill Cafe."
Like Carrington, I've been impressed by Nomzilla and its savvy and industrious owner, Thet H. Tint. The native of Myanmar appears too young to have already explored the worlds of laboratory research (he has a science degree from Vanderbilt) and nursing (he's also an R.N.) before taking on the food biz.
I always enjoy talking with the interesting people who launch independent restaurants, folks who exercise their brains and brawn and take risks for their sheer love of food and feeding others. Thet has clearly thought long and hard about his venture, including watching and learning from his mom, who used to supply sushi for Kroger in Mt. Juliet.
But Tint does things his own way — like branding his restaurant after a monster that sounds like a satisfied Cookie Monster when he noshes: nom, nom, nom!
- Photo: Michael W. Bunch
- Thet H. Tint
The Nomzilla way is to give the customer a simple three-step assignment: First, choose white or brown rice. Second, choose a seaweed or soy wrap. Third, choose three fillings.
Tint recommends one protein (crab stick, tuna, salmon, baby shrimp, grilled chicken, grilled duck or panko-breaded shrimp or pork) and two others (avocado, cucumber, blanched asparagus, julienned carrots, pineapple, cream cheese, caramelized onions or sautéed mushrooms).
You're not done yet. Pick a sauce (Korean barbecue, eel, sweet chili, wasabi aioli, Sriracha, Sriracha aioli or teriyaki). And a topping (pistachios, crispy onions, tempura, toasted coconut, strawberry, mango, avocado or fish roe).
Prices are listed for each ingredient, so you could build a budget roll of cucumber, carrots, cream cheese, sauce and topping for under four bucks. Or you could pull out all the stops, with grilled duck, asparagus and pineapple for $8.
As much as we love a well-constructed sushi roll of fresh ingredients, we also love Nomzilla's choice of roll versus bowl. The latter deconstructs the tubular maki (sans seaweed) into a mound of rice, protein and vegetables, to be eaten with chopsticks. The fact that Tint offers to drop the seaweed kimono on his ingredients should be read as a good sign, because he wouldn't risk exposing subpar ingredients to such full-frontal scrutiny. To be sure, Nomzilla's fillings, such as al dente asparagus, gem-colored fruits, tender duck and buttery fishes, are more than ready for their close-ups. In fact, our $7 rice bowl with succulent duck, delicate asparagus and crisp cucumber matchsticks with sweet bulgogi sauce was a beautiful cold entrée that would have been equally àpropos on china as in Nomzilla's plastic to-go container.
And as an incendiary signature dish, Tint offers the Fire-Breathing Roll. "Talk about going the extra mile," Fox writes "Tint returns to his clinical laboratory roots to prepare his signature ghost pepper sauce, donning a gas mask and locking the shop door to contain the fiery fumes of the bhut jolokia."
Read the full review here, and share stories if you've got them, Bites Nation. Have you tried Nomzilla? How about the Fire-Breathing Roll?