Every so often, I get an email from you gentle readers about a new restaurant, and heartily recommending I get myself over there at the earliest opportunity.
Such an email found its way to my inbox late last week, pointing me toward the north end of Greeneville and Nova’s Sushi Bar & Grill. The other three members of the dine-around bunch couldn’t join my dining partner and I on our gustatory expedition, so the two of us set off for Greeneville Commons and an early supper. I’d been hearing good things about Nova’s Sushi Bar & Grill. Owners Nene and Nunu Thirakul give to Nova’s their personal brand of hospitality. Nova’s customer service is a touchstone for the rest of culinary Greeneville.
Nova’s occupies a storefront mid-way in the Greeneville Commons shopping center. Approaching the entrance one is struck by how clean and well-kept the outside of the restaurant is, its well-swept walkway and un-smudged windows brought a positive comment from my dining partner, who notices such things. Inside, the décor is what my friend the Dieter deems “Asian Modern” and the Carnivore calls “Shogun Simple.” Nova’s dining area can accommodate 80 or so, seated in nicely padded chairs at unique tables created by local woodworker Seth Hayes. Each handmade table has black filigree decorating its top. Each table’s filigree is different, evoking the delicate patterning of Queen Anne’s lace. Restroom access is found at the rear of the dining area.
Once inside, my dining partner and I were greeted by our server Hailey. After seating us, Hailey got our menus, took our drinks order, and brought each of us a steaming bowl of complimentary clear chicken broth for sipping while ordering.
Hibachi Two Combo: Teriyaki chicken & shrimp, wITH fried rice
Not being a big fan of sushi in any of its manifestations, my dining partner’s interest focused on Nova’s hibachi grill, choosing one of their Hibachi Two combo platters ($10). Nova’s kitchen pairs coarsely chopped breast of chicken with their “house” shrimp, grilling both together in Nova’s proprietary teriyaki sauce, plating it over fried rice with steamed broccoli florets on the side. My dining partner was impressed, remarking how the flavor bouquet of the in-house teriyaki sauce worked well with chicken, shrimp, rice and even the broccoli.
Sushi: Temptation Roll & Smoked Salmon Skin Roll
Unlike my dining partner, I positively dote upon sushi. Though I enjoy the hand-formed simplicity of nigiri, I am partial to the complexity, the elegance and sheer variety found in a maki roll. Consulting the menu entry for Nova’s Special maki, I picked the Temptation Roll ($12) as my choice. I also chose a maki favorite of mine, Smoked Salmon Skin ($6.59).
As Nova’s menu says, its Temptation Roll is truly special. Inside, the roll folds sticky rice around a blend of spicy crab meat, cream cheese and crunchies. On the outside one finds chopped tempura shrimp drizzled with spicy mayo, sprinkled with scallions and dusted with masago (capelin fish roe) before being drizzled with eel sauce. After a final dusting of tobiko (flying fish roe), my Temptation Roll was sectioned into bite-sized morsels and plated attractively on a dish apparently carved from a single large piece of blackest basalt.
My ordering a Smoked Salmon Skin Roll got me a wrinkled-up nose and a “yuck” face from my dining partner, who enjoys only the pink flesh of the salmon, regarding anything else from the noble fish as fit only for felines or the bait bucket. I patiently related to my dining partner the ingredients and preparation of the Smoked Salmon Skin Roll; how the Sushi Shokunin prepares each ingredient, first dicing thin slices of the delicately smoked salmon skin that are then deep-fried until crisp. The fried smoked salmon skin is then rolled with cucumber slices inside a layer of sticky rice. The roll is finished with a thin application of eel sauce followed by a scattering of scallions and dried bonito (tuna) flakes. Sectioned into bite-sized pieces, my smoked salmon skin roll was parked alongside my Temptation Roll on the basalt and placed in front of me. Though all of my supper was a delight, I especially enjoyed how the salmon skin retained its smoky flavor despite being deep-fried. All in all, mine was a very memorable meal.
The bottom line
I want to thank my readers once again for letting me know about how special a restaurant Nova’s Sushi Bar & Grill is. My dining partner and I enjoyed our evening’s meal there very much, being impressed with the restaurant’s unique décor, excellent service as provided by the friendly and professional Hailey, and their kitchen’s virtuoso crafting of two very different entrees. I complimented Nene Thirakul on the perfection of my Smoked Salmon Skin maki roll, and found that I was talking with its creator. Take it from my dining partner and I, Nova’s Sushi Bar & Grill is very well done, indeed.
Recommended by the Mystery Diner