Thursday, August 18, 2011

i dont want no sunshine rainbow catepillar out my ass rolls

i was asked by a reader to write a post about my thoughts on fusion cuisine.

oh lordy. people that know me well would say dont ask me to talk about ANYTHING because i will ramble on for hours.


ill try not to ramble too much.

ive said some contradictory things about this subject.

i have been quoted saying exactly what this title says. but let me explain why i said it. when im going for a nigiri experience with a well seasoned sushi chef, dont give me a sunshine roll.

but theres nothing wrong with rolls in of itself. when done properly, they are some damn tasty rolls. one of the best tasty sushi treats ive ever had was a spicy tuna roll. no joke. it wasnt bad tuna masked with mayo and spicy seasoning, it was good tuna, spicy, rolled up with some rice. it had a purpose. to be a tasty roll.

some restaurant owners think "fusion" is a gimmick to bring people in.

that is the wrong approach.

the blending of food and cultures is a good thing. the first time i bit into a chicken tikki masala burrito, it blew my mind. why didnt i think of this? this is brilliant!

ive also been to places that throw down a white table cloth, serve wine and smear some sriracha on a plate, serve mediocore (fill in the blank) asian dishes... all done by an white chef and call it fusion. not to mention a $30 a plate price tag.

wrong approach.

ive also been to places that take traditional japanese dishes, use what is considered to be western cooking techniques and make beautiful music.

i walk out stuffed and amazed with what people can do with food.

"fusion" is a term thrown around too much, usually referring to really craptastic food.

but as a category of food, theres nothing wrong with it. much like the term "foodie", i kinda hate it. foodie usually refers to someone who thinks they know food, who uses their limited knowledge of food to make themselves feel superior to someone who doesnt. thats not a foodie. thats an asshole. its sad that so many people adopted the term in the wrong way, that it became the n word.

food, like everything important in life, should have a purpose. the purpose will define what you are.


  1. I think it also has to with what sort of mood you're in. If you wind up at a rainbow dragon fried tempura shrimp seaweed wrapped roll spot and end up hating it, it could've been that you wanted some pure nigiri. *shrugs* Some days that tikka masala burrito is tasty, and then on others you wish you didn't blow your money on that kimchi burrito from HRD (which totally wasn't worth it for hard rice and underwhelming barely fermented or seasoned kimchi just slathered with sesame oil) but I digress.
    I agree, it has to do with the approach and how it was executed. In theory, a lot of food SOUNDS great but when executed poorly? Disaster. I had the absolute worst bowl of noodle soup at Momofuku Sssam Bar. I had such high expectations for the infamous David Chang. I'm sure you know who I am talking about. $19 for braised brisket, extremely undercooked noodles and Thai basil in barely lukewarm broth while the waitress carelessly plopped down a saucer of Sriracha and hoisin and said "that's for your noodles. this is how you dip it, like pho" No fucking shit, really? I suppose the brisket was the fusion part but everything about it was so God awful. To make it clear I was in the mood for noodle soup, but David Chang just didn't deliver.
    Fusion my ass.

  2. oh man, dont get me started on david chang. im not very fond of that guy for all sorts of reasons. i agree that many places fail to live up to the hype surrounding them.

    add in the many places make things fusion for fusion sake (wrong approach again), you end up with something that wasnt made with a purpose at all. its like slamming on 20" rims on anything thinking it will make it ballin. no. your 1980 chevy corsica doesnt look sick with 20" rims.

    the opposite end of this spectrum would be a discussion on what is authentic. now this in itself is an interesting topic too because the term authentic is a farse to begin with.

    take a bowl of tonkotsu ramen for instance. "that is not an authentic bowl of tonkotsu ramen" what does that mean? a japanese person from blank and blank prefecture didnt use bones from a specific pig.... well if someone goes that far, i would ask, when were pigs introduced to the island nation of japan? how can an ingredient thats not native to japan be an ingredient in an authentic dish? of course im arguins semantics, but so is a person stating that a certain bowl of ramen isnt authentic to begin with.

    i care less for terms like authentic, fusion, modern. i care does it taste good.

    if you want to add in spicy cod roe because you think it will taste good, do it. if you think adding some korean ddang jjang to your chinese duck broth noodle soup would add a nice layer of complexity, do it!

    if you think smearing sriracha on a plate makes your mediocore dish fusion tapas? go screw yourself.