by Nicki Wood
These days, and for the last few years, Nashville's best option for Chinese food is the Golden Coast weekend buffet. It's just the weekend--if you eat there during the remainder of the week, you're on your own.
The commenter alwayshungry and I took our families for a weekend visit. I got the clams in black bean sauce, the stir-fried tofu skin, shrimp pearl dumplings, fish in brown sauce (best dish of the day), frog legs fried like chicken (sometimes a cliche is a cliche for a reason), spicy seaweed salad, thinly sliced beef with a perfumey star anise flavor, and bubble tea. Thank gosh I wore my "eatin' pants" with the stretchy waist.
Someone in the kitchen had worked hard to turn out this bounty of well-executed food. They put in extra effort at the fringes, where there lurked odder-than-usual offerings like stewed pigs' feet with no meat on them; a rice-and-shiitake dumpling steamed in a tea-scented, tobacco-flavored leaf; and seaweed soup in which the seaweed ribbons were tied into pretty knots.
To round out the meal, there's always an impressive selection of agar-based gelatin of bright color and uncertain provenance. There's banana pudding, a perennial Chinese buffet favorite, or C-list cookies. Skip these, though, because Golden Coast has laid on the ultimate in American sweets, the crisp-rice-n-marshmallow square and the Little Debbie Swiss roll.