By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Fruit aromas were intense and forward in the crispy quail in plum wine sauce. Passing the plate under the nose was like punching your schnoz into the bowl of a Bordeaux glass after a vigorous, aerating swirl. The quail, split and propped like the lamb, was black in the restaurant's dim, rich amber light. The meat was clean, chewy and moist without those distracting chicken liver flavors that signal a lack of freshness.
Thai touches are minimal, emerging unmistakably only in satay, coconut soup and pad Thai. (From out of India comes a ground chicken-stuffed golden samosa.) Pad Thai is among the best you'll find in Dallas with separate perfectly boiled noodles, a sauce that skirts unction and a throng of shrimp, scallops and squid, all rife with sweet sea flavor.
Even Chinese peeks through in dumplings created from Wakabayashi's training in Chinese cookery (lettuce wraps don't count as they are to Chinese what ham-and-pineapple pizza is to Italian). The dumplings look like little crowns, supple pork and shrimp pouches arranged around a plate with bright red dots of pepper sauce. The inventive part is the dipping sauce: a watery pool of mushroom and soy that lends a little salty earth to the starch.
Nandina, named after a plant known as sacred bamboo, is a flashy clash when boiled down, but it turns out all right. Just about anything can if the wild imagination that animates it is tempered by crisp discipline.
5631 Alta Ave. at Lowest Greenville, 214-826-6300. Open for lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday; open for dinner 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday. Open 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday. $$$