I’m Still Thinking About the Bento Box at Smiley Thai and Sushi in Mount Juliet

Stoney Keeley's mouth is still watering over this satisfying meal out at Smiley Thai and Sushi in Mount Juliet.

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If you would’ve told 10-year old Stoney, back in 1996, that Mount Juliet would one day be teeming with Thai, Chinese, and sushi restaurants, I would’ve laughed in your face. Back then, Mount Juliet was little more than a two lane road and a Cracker Barrel. But, as Nashville has continued to grow and spread out into the surrounding areas, that old Mount Juliet is nothing more than a distant memory. Nowadays, you can get just about anything you want in ol’ MJ. I’m a big fan of Thai food, so I’m not complaining. I’ve had just about every Pad Thai dish you can have in this town (I still say Yummy Pho Bac has the best). But, we live around Providence, and rarely make it up to the Lebanon Road side of Mount Juliet. After discovering Pelican’s Snoballs earlier in the summer, we’ve found ourselves on that side of town a lot more often lately. And, every time we passed Smiley Thai and Sushi, my fiancé would say, “we have to try that place – I hear nothing but good things.” Well, three weekends ago, we finally made ourselves get out there and try it.

And, folks – we’ve been back every weekend since. Initially, I tried the Pad Thai. As you might’ve guessed from that intro paragraph, I am a fiend for Pad Thai. I need it in my bloodstream at least once a week or my heart will give out on me. It’s like crack. And, it’s pretty damn good at Smiley. But, when we went back the following week, I was peer pressured into trying something different. That’s when we discovered the Bento Box. I was lost on the concept, and honestly, I doubted its substance. Listen – I’m 6’2″ and 280 pounds. I can put away an entire horse in one sitting if I want to. That’s a weird analogy for me to basically just say I can eat a whole lot, but you get my point. The fiancé won.

So, we ordered a Bento Box, and an order of their Fuji Roll (fried sushi rules, by the way). What followed can only be described as a religious experience. I saw the heavens in the light of that box. It had tempura, beef teriyaki, rice, California rolls, gyoza. All of it was fresh. All of it was good. The beef teriyaki has the best teriyaki flavor I’ve ever had in my life, and the rice came out fresh and steaming. Smiley does sushi right, so the California rolls were bomb. We practically fought over the last gyoza. But, for me, it was the tempura that really stole the show – fresh, crunchy, savory…a mix of vegetables and shrimp alike. It was hearty. Just take a look at this sumbitch:

The Fuji Roll (also pictured: Diet Coke)

Upon completion of the meal, I just sat there staring at the wall, processing what I had just consumed. It was nourishing. Like…beyond just being an enjoyable meal, it was truly satisfying. I felt like I probably could’ve gone without food for three days after that and been fine. It felt like a warm fire on a cold winter’s day. You just can’t get that everywhere. It was culinary poetry.

They do have a bar (and they make a rather enjoyable mojito, I might add), and a nice little patio outside for when the weather isn’t quite as relentless as it has been. All in all, that Bento Box is one of the best meals in town, and I’m already thinking about the next one. For the sake of posting this in the archives for the Mount Juliet Reviews, let me hit Smiley Thai with the scores I use to rate restaurants in the area:

  • Food: 8.9/10
  • Booze: 5/10
  • Atmosphere: 6/10
  • Value: 9.1/10
  • Overall: 7.25/10

CURRENT MOUNT JULIET RESTAURANT RANKINGS

  1. ML Rose (8.19/10)
  2. Hibachi Jr. (7.75/10)
  3. Catch 22 (7.125/10)
  4. Yummy Pho Bac (6.87/10)
  5. Hurt’s Hot Chicken (6.67/10)

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley

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