A standard plate of Mexican nachos is assembled with corn-flour tortilla chips loaded with toppings such as frijoles, jalapeno, tomatoes, cheese,and – sometimes – beef. At Malt & Mortar, the new-ish gastropub on Whyte Avenue, you won’t find traditional nachos; instead your cravings will have to be satisfied with its Kim Chi Tatchos, which sees Korean, Japanese and Chinese flavours fused with lattice-cut potato chips.
The tatchos are layered with a spicy vegetarian kim chi, pickled carrots and peanuts, and lathered in a peanut butter hoisin sauce and miso crema.
The miso crema was underwhelming – what I equip to the lack of sauce on the dish – but wasn’t too much of a problem as the peanut butter hoisin sauce made up for it. The hoisin’s robust sweet-but-tangy flavour that made me scoop up every bit of sauce that was left on the bowl. –Jasmine Salazar
Riz Asian Kitchen, located in City Centre Mall west,is a one-stop shop for the fusion food lover in you- if you’re craving Asian fusion, that is. Dubbing itself an eatery for lovers of cocktails and “inspire asian” cuisine, the menu features a plethora of inventive dishes.
Amidst all the dishes on the menu, the one that caught my eye fused three separate cuisines into one succulent dish (or, in this case, a bowl), the Duck Curry Ramen. When it comes to the table, half the fun is deciphering the influences. From the appearance, I deduce that the “ramen” aspect is in its form- a big bowl stuffed with Japanese noodles, topped with meat and garnishes (though, sadly, no egg). A surprising French twist is the duck confit which floats in the bowl. The Malaysian influence of the Laksa curry, with infused flavours of cumin, paprika and coriander, makes it almost a curry soup rather than a ramen.
At first, it seems a tad undersalted, but I can’t help but imagine that this is intentional, as the duck itself is a perfect salty delight. In addition to the duck, the dish is further balanced by sweet slices of yuzu red peppers, and a roasty smattering of peanuts. In all, the dish, though somewhat spicy, ends up sweet and buttery in the mouth. –Cory Haller
*Riz officially closed its doors after this issue went to print
Shepherd’s Pie Spring Rolls
Traditional spring rolls are generally stuffed with ground pork, vegetables like cabbage and served along side a sweet, spicy sauce – but O’Byrne’s has taken a distinctly more British take on the classic appetizer. On the outside, they seem the same as regular spring rolls, but once you take a bite, you’re met with a filling of creamy mashed potatoes and perfectly seasoned beef.
The contrast between the soft potatoes and crisp wrapper makes for a satisfying bite, and the Guinness gravy is the perfect accompaniment. While it may be tipping the scales more towards the Irish side of this fusion equation, enjoying this appetizer with a stout beer is practically mandatory. –Adrianna Szenthe
At Indian Fusion, you’ll find well-executed versions of the classics – including, yes, butter chicken. But the word “fusion” is in the name of the place, and the menu crosses into wild game and Fijian cuisine. If you’d like, you can order elk, bison or even crocodile curry.
But, because we wanted a cross-cultural experience, we opt for some of the Fijian specialties; lamb surva and the pumpkin chokha. The server asks us, on a scale of one to five, how spicy we’d like the dishes. We go with a two.
The lamb comes, bone-in, with a rich sauce of onions, tomatoes and a medley of spices. Ginger and cinnamon come across strong. It’s rich and meaty, and the heat sits in the background, slowly building as we eat more.
But the pumpkin, which the menu boasts is a Fijian specialty, is a side dish that steals the show. At first, I get the comforting, sweet flavour of softened pumpkin, but then the spice slowly takes over; again, there’s a bit of cinnamon there, but it comes with a gentle heat. It’s addictively good. –Steven Sandor