Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: Fusion Asia Indian Restaurant

Fusion Asia
#34 Section 3 Heping East Road
MRT Technology Building or Liuzhangli

Fusion Asia is easy to miss - just one more storefront along the busy eastern end of Heping Road past Dunhua as it veers toward MRT Liuzhangli. I'd actually walked by it several times thinking "we should eat there" (as a part of my nefarious plan to eat at every Indian restaurant I can find in Taipei and then compile it into one huge blog post - which will be updated with Fusion Asia shortly).

One rainy night when we were both unexpectedly free and planned to walk around the Yanji Street area and just pick something that looked good, we decided instead because of the weather to just go here.

The space inside is actually pretty large by Taipei standards, and we were one of only two sets of customers so it felt a bit empty and cavernous. The decoration was innovative, with musical instruments centered inside frames of PVC pipes draped with Indian women's bangles. I got the feeling, however, that they started out with this idea of being both a restaurant and bar (it advertises itself as such), but that didn't quite work out as the space is made out to really just be a restaurant. For that concept to work, your space has to be decorated and set up accordingly, and Fusion Asia really just screamed "restaurant" despite the full bar and drinks menu. As usual in Indian restaurants in Taipei and elsewhere, a flatscreen TV played Bollywood musical numbers.

We honestly weren't expecting much of the food despite the management from India - it was too empty, too unknown, too trying to be something it wasn't.

But we were surprised...the food was actually pretty good, especially the appetizers.

They were out of Kingfisher (BLASPHEMY!) so we got Taiwan beer, samosas and channa aloo chaat. I love a good chaat and I love any restaurant that can do one well. This was pretty good - chick peas and potatoes in a tangy chaat masala with chopped onion and tomato. I would have added a drizzle of yoghurt and then topped the whole thing in sev (crispy fried potato threads), but that's just me. The samosas were brilliant - the outside golden and crispy, the inside moist and very well-spiced, although the tamarind and coriander chutneys were lackluster and they also gave us some mayonnaise, which we didn't use, because that's gross.

For curry, we ordered baingan bharta (grilled mashed eggplant curry) and butter chicken (my favorite). The baingan bharta was very good - well-flavored with a grilled flavor that still let the freshness of the eggplant come through, and perfectly textured which is hard to do with eggplant.

The butter chicken was also good, but perhaps a bit too mild. I thought it might have just been the result of eating two spicy appetizers, but after washing all of the heat away with beer, the butter chicken was still lacking the bit of heat I like it to have.

The garlic naan, however, was quite good and unlike Out of India, they use real garlic, not crappy garlic butter spread.

The menu was standard north Indian fare - curries in sauces with naan or rice. Don't look for regional specialties here - those are really only to be found at Mayur Indian Kitchen or, for Punjabi specialties, Balle Balle.

All in all, I'll go back. It's not the best Indian meal in Taipei, but it's pretty good and close by. I might just go for samosas and chaat though!

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