Friday, October 19, 2012

The Road, No. 15: China Moon [Eating Our Way Down Nolensville Pike]

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Say it aint Tso.
  • Say it ain't Tso.
Welcome to The Road, my column in which I'm going to attempt — key word: attempt — to eat at every non-chain restaurant on Nolensville Pike between I-440 and the county line. I'll readily admit that even though I live right off Nolensville — Paragon Mills represent! — and revel in the diversity and quantity of its eateries, I have barely scratched the surface of what the strip has to offer. But now I'm going to rectify that, and hopefully you'll join for what's likely to be a wild ride.

Episode 15: China Moon
Address: 3979 Nolensville Rd
Phone: 832-4888

There's no real explaining it,but somedays you just wake up with a hankering for Americanized Chinese food. And then other days you actually cave to the hankering because, for some reason, you're feeling weak and lazy and just don't feel like fighting anymore. Or your wife's not around so you can actually order Chinese without the complaints or condescending looks and just wallow in the guilt and MSG all by yourself. I'm not the only one who has these sorta days, right? I know we're all supposed to be foodies with refined palates and a sense of adventure, but seriously, some days you just need to eat some fair-to-middling Chinese food — and it's those days I end up at China Moon.

And it's not like I don't enjoy real-deal, Chinese-people-actually-eat-this Chinese food; it's just that sometimes, well, I'm a lazy American. When I lived in Boston's Chinatown, back when it was still known as The Combat and was rife with hookers and nudie bars, I ate a lot of insanely good, totally-not-cracker-fied Chinese food. It was actually where I learned to stop worrying about eating food I was unfamiliar with and just trust other cultures to treat me well — basically the foundation skill for this very column. My best friend was half-Chinese, spoke a little Mandarin and knew where you could get "chicken fingers" that were actually rabbit. It was a formative culinary experience — I ate a lot of faux-duck from a can — and taught me a lot about Chinese food and culture.

None of which has anything to do with China Moon. CM is about as average as a Chinese spot can be, what Justin would call "gwylo Chinese." (Justin, half atheist Chinese and half Pentecostal Midwesterner, was big on self-loathing.) It's not a place to go looking for the bizarre and exotic, but if you need a solid General Tso's or some slightly overcooked egg rolls, they've got you. Everything I've eaten there has been at the center of the Venn consisting of "Pretty Good" and "Not Bad," with the rice always being just a little too dry for my liking. At the very least it's consistent, even if it's not consistently great. There's something to be said for that! (I think there's something to be said for that. I'm not sure if it's something to be blogged about, but ... )

The decor at China Moon is spartan, the atmosphere more or less nonexistent and the pace seemingly slower and sadder over at the plaza now that the Koger is closed. (Which, incidentally has been huge pain in my ass. I'm a lazy American — I want convenience!) Overall, China Moon isn't bad — their 87 for a health score not included — it's just not anything amazing, and not worth the effort to track down when I'm sure you have a just-as-thouroughly-average Chinese joint in your neighborhood. That said, it definitely hits the mark when you're having one of those days that requires you to indulge your inner gwylo. Or outer gwylo, as is the case with me.

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