Review: Rain – Premier Sushi Bar & Bistro
I’m allergic to shellfish, and I realize how devastating this is so let’s move on. The one cuisine I consider myself unqualified to critique is Japanese since sushi is at its heart. In many respects that belittles this very review but that doesn’t stop me from addressing Rain’s non-sushi menu.
I have a bad habit of immediately judging restaurants in Collierville and Cordova. It must be the endless rows of nationwide chains that litter Germantown Parkway which make me so hostile to, what is for the most part, suburbia at its finest. If there are gems in these parts of town, then they’re buried under Red Robins, Sonics, and McDonalds. Fortunately, Rain isn’t difficult to see from Germantown Parkway, although it is in a shopping center, a position which would hinder, if anything, the height of its reach towards stardom. Inside, the floor was stained with dark brown and the walls painted with silver. Walking in to the tune of a song which suggested Darude’s Sandstorm was next, I immediately noticed a dimly lit bar behind the hostess stand. The bar itself looked rather forlorn in the corner of the restaurant, and I only bring this up because it was practically the first thing I saw when I walked in.
My first course were Vietnamese spring rolls stuffed with cabbage, pork, carrots, taro root and mushrooms, served with a lemon vinaigrette. The grease on the skin of the spring rolls gleamed under the light and a combination of the pork, taro root, and mushrooms made for a very dark, slightly unappeasing, interior color. The flavor profile is another story. The crunchy skin and the full-bodied stuffing worked very well with the bright-red lemon vinaigrette, which was light on the palette but added just enough heat and sweetness.
My entree consisted of a pan-seared seabass with lemongrass scented jasmine rice, edamame, broccoli and a beurre blanc. As a whole this dish was very good. The beurre blanc meshed very well with both the rice and the fish. On the outside the seabass looked perfectly cooked but all it took was one stab to realize that it was slightly overcooked and just a tinge rubbery as well as bland. On the other side of the coin, the fish seemed very fresh and remained a delight to eat once dipped in the beurre blanc, the sauce being smooth, buttery, and very warm in general.
The desserts were overall decent, one being better than the other. The creme brulee’s crust was over-carmelized resulting in shards of sugar latching onto the underside of my teeth. Once I made it past the crystal-like barrier, I reached a languid pool of creme which was far too liquidy and mild for my taste. Overall, not a very smooth ride. The strawberry cake was moist and certinaly tasted like strawberry, although it was denser than I would have liked. The icing was a step over in the sweet-side.
If I were in the area, I would certinaly consider going to Rain. The service was attentive, the atmosphere vibrant and clean, and the food better than most surrounding restaurants. I do feel like Rain has a mild “identity crisis” as it offers pizza, should anyone walking into a “Premier Sushi Bar” suddenly crave tomato sauce and cheese, which as we all know are two vital elements in Japanese cuisine. I suspect the pizzas are an attempt to ensnare what might be a hesistant suburbian audience before sending them into the jungle with gyozas and nigiri rolls. Chinese restuarants often do the same with their grand buffets, hoping shy customers will one day pass over the hot dogs and instead reach for the moo goo gai pan. Rain should just stick to its guns. I feel that Rain’s dessert choices were also pandering to the Southern suburbian crowd by offering strawberry cake, cheesecake, creme brulee, and a molten cake. Offer something Japanese, for fortune favors the brave.
-Reviewed July ’09