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My Turn

Wayne Chan

From The Asian Reporter, V28, #13 (July 2, 2018), page 6.

Fusion and fried rice ó a match made in heaven

Beef noodle soup, Asian tapas & sushi? Thanks, but no thanks.

I try not to be a foodie elitist, but Iíve never been attracted to restaurants that mix and match cuisines from two or more cultures. And donít get me started on fusion restaurants. Szechuan tostadas topped with a green curry coleslaw? I think Iíll 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.

Itís 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 recently stopped at a restaurant specializing in Taiwanese beef noodle soup as well as a wide range of sushi. To top it off, they had fried noodles, fried rice, and Korean BBQ too.

I knew which one I was trying first ó fried rice.

Basic fried rice ó itíll tell you everything you need to know. In the movie, The Hundred-Foot Journey, the owner of the Michelin-rated restaurant asks her apprentice to make a simple omelet. If he can prepare a simple omelet, that tells her a lot about his basic cooking skills. Well, with Chinese food, itís fried rice.

Itís such a simple dish, but I can count on one hand how many times Iíve truly had great fried rice. And if the fried rice is working, you can bet everything else on the menu is probably working too.

Iím not a food critic, but I know my fried rice. It needs to be glistening in oil ó 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 the meal. I dug my chopsticks into the bowl of freshly made fried rice and gave it a little sniff ó the steam from the shrimp and barbeque pork seemed enticing. But now for the real test ó I took my first bite.

It was awesome. It was one of the better plates of fried rice Iíd had in years. And the fried rice was prepared by a restaurant that serves sushi along with an Asian taco thing Iíve never seen before.

Now I donít know if their sushi is any good, and I would not be the best judge of that since Iím not a huge sushi fan, but the beef noodle soup was amazing too. My friend even tried the Asian taco and let me take a bite. While it didnít taste like any taco Iíd ever eaten, whatever was in it was pretty darn good.

Apparently my whole disdain for Asian fusion food may have been misplaced. Perhaps I need to give this whole fusion culinary thing another try.

Iím all in. Give me your best shot. Bibimbap pizza ó Iíd love a slice! Chicken fettuccine kung pao style? Donít mind if I do! Clam chowder with matzo balls? Just try to stop me.

But please, donít mess around with fried rice, OK? Iím a reasonable guy, but donít push me.


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