By Wayne Chan
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Beef noodle soup, Asian tapas, and sushi? Thanks, but no thanks.
I try not to be a foodie elitist, but I’ve never been attracted to restaurants that mix and match cuisines from two or more cultures. And don’t even get me started on fusion restaurants. Szechuan tostadas topped with a green curry coleslaw? I think I’ll pass.
My theory on fusion food is that the entire menu was created by some chef in New York who was bored and just started experimenting with things. He wanted something new and suddenly he thought, “I wonder how Peking Duck would taste if I added chili sauce and put it in a tortilla?” And thus, “fusion” cuisine was born.
It’s hard enough making one dish well. Who has the gumption or even the skills to make two or three cuisines at the same time? Well, I was about to find out.
We stopped in to a restaurant which specialized in Taiwanese beef noodle soup, as well as a wide range in sushi. To top it off, they had fried noodles, fried rice, and Korean BBQ.
I knew which one I was going for first — fried rice. Basic fried rice, it’ll tell you everything you need to know. In the movie, “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” the owner of the Michelin rated restaurant asked her apprentice to make a simple omelet. If he could prepare a simple omelet, that would tell her a lot about his basic cooking skills. Well, with Chinese food, it’s fried rice.
It’s such a simple dish, but I can count on one hand how many times I’ve truly had great fried rice. And if the fried rice is working, you can bet that everything else on the menu will probably work, too.
I’m not a food critic, but I know my fried rice. It needs to be glistening in oil, not swimming in it. The rice needs to be loose and not clumpy. If you can easily form fried rice into respectable looking snowballs, you might as well start a fried rice snowball fight because that rice is not worth eating.
Getting back to my meal. I dug my chopsticks into my bowl of freshly made fried rice and gave it a little sniff. The steam from the shrimp and barbeque pork seemed enticing, but now for the real test — I took my first bite.
It was awesome. It was probably one of the best fried rice I’ve had in years.
And this, coming from a restaurant that served sushi along with this Asian taco thing that I’ve never seen before.
Now, I don’t know if their sushi is any good, and I wouldn’t be the best judge of that since I’m not a huge sushi fan, but the beef noodle soup was amazing, too. My friend even had the Asian taco and while it didn’t taste like any taco I’d ever eaten, whatever it was tasted pretty darn good.
Apparently my whole disdain for Asian or fusion food may have been misplaced. Maybe I need to give this whole fusion culinary thing another try. I’m all in.
Give me your best shot. Bibimbap pizza? I’d love a slice! Chicken fettuccine kung pao style? Don’t mind if I do! Clam chowder with matzoh ball? Just try and stop me.
But please, don’t mess around with that fried rice, OK? I’m a reasonable guy, but don’t push me.
Wayne can be reached at email@example.com.