Monday, March 08, 2010

Keep it simple - Fusion Gourmet

Back in the day when Hong Kong magazines were still considered part of a relatively healthy media diet, I read an article by the celeb Singaporean Chinese food authority-slash-writer-slash-notorious old flirt Chua Lam, who said that his ideal restaurant would be one that served high quality fresh produce cooked simply, but expertly and without fuss - perfectly grilled steaks, skillful stir-fries, controlled pan sears etc., in a utilitarian environment of marble-topped tables (chosen for their easy-wipeness and durability rather than 'prestige' as a material - much like the marble-topped tables in kopitiams in Malaysia/Singapore), decent lighting and so on.

Something makes me think that Fusion Gourmet, a foodstore-cum-cantina in Sheung Wan, will hit Chua's spot. Okay, I'm going to say it outright - not everything works. Service could be smoother (that could be said about HK in general); some items on the menu hold on too much to the overdone fussiness of sister restaurant Fusion Fifth Floor (which is directly upstairs - guess which floor...); the cooking, simple as it is, is still far from 'perfect'. But with its chunky timber communal tables and produce/products that have obviously been carefully procured, it ain't doing so bad.

Lots of Tomatoes

Nice little salad to start - juicy, ripe cherry tomatoes with a little rocket and onions, as well as finely diced pineapple that pretty much made the dish.

Bread basket

Call me pedantic but it kind of annoyed me that the "basket" wasn't a "basket". Oh, and that extra virgin was spelled "extravergine" elsewhere on the menu. Anyway, I digress. The tomato bread up front really isn't my thing, I felt like I was having Campbells in bread form. The baguette at the back showed they had a nice hack at it but didn't quite succeed. It was crusty, but probably a bit too thick, the inside was soft but quite dry. The whole thing tasted like a cardboard imitation of a baguette. Okay maybe not as bad, but it was pretty bland. They bake their own bread here and seem pretty proud of it, so I hope they get better at it, but as my mom said, they charge more than the Mandarin Oriental Cake Shop, but it's not as good. Word.

Caesar salad

Personally I prefer a poached egg rather than a hard boiled one, and again, the tomato bread isn't really my thing. Otherwise the leaves were fresh, good anchovies... but nothing spesh.

Steak salad

Wagyu skirt steak on a garden salad. The beef had awesome flavour and I love how the meat pulled apart into tender but elastic strings. According to the menu this beef is the same brand as their short rib (and a few other steaks but I forget...). If/when I head back I'm certainly going to try their steak.

Tagliatelle with prawns and tomato chilli

This was Lor's main, and I didn't taste it, so I can only report the following:

1. I'm pretty sure the menu said "tagliatelle" - from the photo it's pretty obvious it's not...
2. Lor said the pasta was a bit limp and overcooked, but otherwise, no complaints.

Grilled Kurobuta pork chop

I'd had a smaller version of this when I came the first time for lunch and it's what made me think they've got some good stuff going on. Great thickness and cooked perfectly - still juicy and pink inside, charred outside; and the honey vinaigrette is a winner. They must have put coriander or the like in it as there's a distinctive "Thai" flavour to it - I want to buy bottles of this stuff and put it on everything.
Spring lamb 

It was lamb fillet, so it was really tender, though for something like this I would have liked a cut that was less fine. They could well have used leg, shoulder etc. instead of a pricey but like this. The broth was also a little too salty. Interesting use of spring onions and baby corn - made it kinda Asian (they really won't let you forget the "Fusion" thing, will they?) In this case I can't say it worked. (It rarely does imho...)

Whole wheat bread 

I would have preferred more bounce and less density. The crust could have been crisper too.


The only dessert made (or in this case, assembled) a la minute. All the other desserts were cakes in the display cabinet. This was fine, had a bit of mango coulis (probably bottled, or at least it tasted like it) drizzled on the side. I also had a montblanc, which was a bit too sugary and not chestnutty enough.

Auntie suggested a "suggestive" placement of the two montblancs... we added the milk for extra, um, depth? Naughtiness is encouraged around our dinner table

We BYO-ed a very nice bottle of Chateau Lagrange 2000 for a small corkage (I think it was HK$100) but they sell wine too (some more reasonably priced than others).

I'd certainly come back - I mean, I'd skip the spring lamb, bread and desserts, but for the Kurobuta pork, that sauce and to try their wagyu short rib, certainly. And like Chua Lam, I have a weakness for easy-wipe tables (though not so much busty women, ahem).

Fusion Gourmet
1/F The Pemberton
22-26 Bonham Strand
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong
+852 2545 0068

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