Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What Fusion?

I never thought of Elizabeth Chong as a good chef. I held her in disdain… after all she was a third generation Chinese in Australia barely managing a word of Chinese and here she is parading her Chinese cooking skills on Television. Perhaps she would be appreciated by lemon chicken eating diners who would know nothing better; but for us Chinese and the other eclectic little who knows their Chinese food, it is a joke and an embarrassment. What… with her non-stick designer pans, her Smeg cook top and range hoods… authenticity is severely compromised in an environment as such.

How ironic when I remembered just a few years ago when she criticized wannabe Chinese chefs out there for making Chinese or fusion food by just a throw of black beans… or what have you not into the dish just to add that hint of exotic Chinese to make it fusion or to make Asian their food.

So when I was invited today by a bunch of old friends for dinner at a Chinese Fusion establishment I was skeptical. Honestly I prefer my Chinese food to be cooked by Chinese.

And so we commenced. The thing I notice about Asian fusion is this arrogance. It is as if to say, Okay, we know fine dining better. Let us improve the way you eat and present your food that is up to our high standards. Let us serve you “Asian food” with a Knife and a Fork. With silver service and Aesop Products in the restroom to give us the extra edge over you.

So the first thing they served us was a complimentary “Chicken Broth” Oh! that got me excited already! No honestly… Chicken Broth? It must have been a wonderful concoction of Chicken and whatevers. So they set down four melamine Tea Cups on the table (the ones you buy from a corner variety shop in Chinatown back in Malaysia). And I ingested their Chicken Broth… which was nothing more than chicken frames boiled in water with plenty of salt and spring onions. And to further intensify this phantasmal broth of utter preciousness and deliciousness, the tea cup was filled up to a quarter. WTF?

I personally do not like this new generation of Asian cuisine. They create these as they do to be in vogue, because it is the new way. With designer tumblers, chairs, crockery… And the ridiculous prices to convey exclusivity when the food most of the time do not measure up.

Already i see parallels with the fashion industry. Here is a bag, i know its made in China of plastic, but listen! it is vogue! it is hot! it is designer! Now pay up you fool! Pay us exorbitantly!Here is "The" Chicken Broth. It is fusion, its vogue, its only filled up to a quarter because it is very precious!

So here i am feeling RIPPED OFF! I spent AUD$40 to sip precious chicken soup, deep fried chicken that was bloody, beef in soy sauce reminiscent of those lazy dinners where i just could not care less, fish that barely had meat on and duck that was dry. Luckily i was able to fill myself up with plenty of rice and the scarce sauce lying around on the plates. Just so i could walk out with a full tummy and not feel like i paid $40 just to tease my appetite.

For those curious to know, the Restaurant was Seamstress on Lonsdale Street. Beware dear patrons!

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