Wednesday, May 07, 2008


928 S. Cooper Street
(901) 274-2556

When I asked Satchel where he wanted to eat on his sixth birthday, he said, "Ian's dad's restaurant!"

Seeing how Tsunami is one of my absolute favorite restaurants (I ate lunch there on my birthday just a few weeks prior) and Ben & Colleen Smith are two of my favorite people, I had no problem agreeing to this.

"Can Ian eat with us?" he asked.

"Sure, why not?" I said. It was his birthday after all.

I called Colleen, got the go ahead for Ian to join us, and made a 5:30pm reservation. (That's when they open.) Monday is sushi night with Marisa, so I was extra excited.

Warren and I picked the boys up from school, took them home for some quick dirt removal, and then headed to the restaurant. About half way there I suddenly thought to myself, "Hmm...I wonder if there will be anything that they want to eat." Tsunami doesn't have a kids menu and most of the dishes I'd had to date were rather sophisticated. Colleen had told me not too long ago that she preferred adventurous eaters over picky ones. "I'm sure they'll be fine," I told myself.

We arrived at 5:35pm and there were already several tables ahead of us. I briefly considered asking for a seat on the patio, but thought better of it. We opted to sit in the lounge where we could watch Marisa make sushi...and stay out of earshot of the other diners. Satchel & Jiro were very excited to be in Ian's dad's restaurant with Ian...and his dad...and his mom...and his uncle...and his aunt! Ian, of course, wanted to show the monkeys every nook and cranny of his second home, but we convinced him to come and have a seat with us. All three boys squeezed behind the table and shared the bench against the wall. Warren and I flanked them on either side.

As they squirmed and giggled and inexplicably said things like, "Move your big ass over," I looked at Warren. "Uh...maybe asking them to sit still in a fancy restaurant with one of their best buddies was a dumb idea," I said.

He was too busy looking at the menu to comment. "Mmmm...what should we eat first?" he said licking his lips.

"Who wants a Coke?" asked Ian.

"I do!" said Satchel.

"Me too!" said Jiro.

Then Ian was off. He went behind the bar and returned with three tiny Cokes. Jiro immediately slurped his down, but Satchel just pretended to since he really only likes to drink water.

I had a chance to look at the menu and knew exactly what I wanted to eat, but wasn't sure what to get the monkeys. "Ian, what's your favorite thing to eat here?"

"Fish noodle soup," he said. Then he looked at Satchel and Jiro. "Who wants another Coke?"

Jiro pushed his glass toward Ian and said, "I want Coke and Sprite mixed together."

Unable to locate fish noodle soup on the menu, I was back at square one.

Ian came back with the second round of drinks, and Satchel could no longer stand to be seated. "I need to go to the bathroom," he said.

"Me too," said Jiro.

"Follow me!" said Ian and soon they were tearing through the main dining room toward the bathroooms.

I followed behind, waited outside the door to the men's room listening to massive giggling, and just barely caught their shirt tails as they came barreling out. "Guys, this is Ian's dad's restaurant not Ian's dad's playground. WALK. QUIETLY."

They obliged and soon we were all back at the table eating yummy bread and drawing Star Wars characters on the paper tablecloth. (Most of us, anyway.)

Colleen came by to take our order and make a few recommendations. We got an order of cold sesame noodles for the boys to share as an appetizer. Warren ordered Marisa's California bowl and I got Marisa's tuna sashimi and pineapple in coconut milk. Oh but we didn't stop there! We also ordered the sea scallops with jalepeno pesto and pineapple salsa and the grilled filet of beef with chipotle butter, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. I knew that both monkeys would eat steak and mashed potatoes if they didn't fill up on bread and sesame noodles.

I looked over at the boys' drawings and had a giggle. "Yoda sure does have a big light saber," I whispered to Warren.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Colleen leading a group of business people into the lounge...and then out of the lounge. The monkeys were behaving very well, but there were constant giggles coming from the table.

Justice, our musically-inclined waiter, brought out our appetizers and soon there was quiet. The noodles were a hit and Warren liked his California bowl so much he didn't even offer to share! (I think Satchel did finagle a few bites of rice.) The tuna sashimi was super yummy with the pineapple and coconut. I had never had anything like it.

Ian, attempting to take advantage of my food buzz, asked, "Who wants to see the office?"

"I do!" said Satchel.

"Me too!" said Jiro.

Luckily Colleen overheard and did her best to nip this plan in the bud. "You can show them the office, but you can't play in the office," she clarified.

"Aw man," Ian said disappointed. But he was determined. "Can we build a spaceship in the banquet room?"

We all laughed. "Maybe next time," Colleen said as she escorted them to the office.

I started to feel like a heel for planning a sit down dinner rather than an after hours restaurant playdate for the boys. (Well not too much of a heel since the latter doesn't necessarily exist.)

When the boys returned they had a bag full of toys. This kept them occupied until the entrees arrived, but also made them lose interest in eating. We finally convinced them to put everything away and started divvying up the goods. Satchel and Jiro both wolfed down their steak, mashed potatoes, and crispy veggies. The sea scallops were a tad spicy thanks to the scrumptious jalepeno pesto, so Warren and I were forced to eat them all ourselves. They were definitely the best scallops I've ever had.

Ian wasn't interested in any of our offerings. "Ian, aren't you hungry?" I asked.

He nodded and said he'd be right back. He went into the kitchen and soon returned with a bowl of plain white rice.

Warren and I would have liked to stay for dessert and coffee, but it was clear that the monkeys needed to be let loose in the jungle for a while before we attempted to take them to the movies. Ben came out to chat and give Ian the okay to stay up late watching kung-fu and eating lots of sugar. We thanked him for a fabulous meal and headed towards Peabody Park.

I still plan on being a Tsunami regular, but the monkeys will have to wait a few years...or for a private event. If your monkeys have sophisticated tastes and enjoy an occasional fine dining experience, then give Tsunami a try early on a weeknight. (Or maybe for lunch when the menu is a little less fancy but just as yummy.) Tsunami's small plates menu changes nightly. Sushi is only on Monday and changes week to week.

Project Green Fork Certified Restaurant
Tsunami on Urbanspoon


Chip said...

Mmmm, man that all sounds amazing.

I know I'm the most selfish parent in the world, but I don't want my enjoyment of food THAT good to interrupted by wrangling my monkeys, especially when they don't get anything out of the experience from a culinary perspective.

Memphisotan said...

Tsunami coerced me into eating fish for the first time in 15 years.

And it was gooood.

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