We know. It’s hot. It’s summer in Oklahoma. Cool down by sampling cocktails that local bars and restaurants have concocted just for you. Find a nice, air conditioned space or a shaded patio and while away the hours drinking the flavors of summer. You might decide it’s not that bad after all.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock, Shannon Cornman and Lauren Hamilton
There are a wealth of new local eateries cropping up in the metro and even more coming. If they’re not on your radar, they should be. From the comfy atmosphere at The Barrel on Western Avenue to the laid-back vibe at the Plaza District’s coffee shop, you might find a new regular hangout.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
“Our food isn’t the same as what you’d get in Seoul,” the Rev. John Chong said. “It’s better.”
This goes against their mission statement on the menu that reads, in part: “to provide a fusion of Asian foods that is healthy and homemade without preservatives and additives.”
right In Moore, Fusion Cafe’s chicken wings join side items for a spicy, hearty meal.
The small restaurant they operate with this goal in mind is very much a family enterprise, with their son and daughters having been either past or current employees. The spacious dining room is simply furnished and decorated with tropical plants and Korean ceramics on shelves.
The menu is posted on the wall behind the counter, and you may select soft drinks (but no booze) from a refrigerated glass case. Your order is brought to the table. Besides being healthy, Fusion is green, too. There’s a sign over the serve-yourself side-dish bar that states, “Don’t take more than you need. Don’t waste paper here.”Although there are three delicious teriyaki entrées available, I’ll let you in on a secret: This is first and foremost a Korean restaurant. The “fusion” in the cafe’s name is as much about a merger with American tastes as with those of Japan. Once past the pan-Asian appetizers that include egg rolls (3 for $3), edamame ($3) and shumai shrimp dumplings (7 for $4), you’re in the authentic Korean cuisine zone. That’s a good place to be.
Most dishes include visits to the unlimited side-dish bar. The staple of Korean eating is kimchee, and every family has their own take on the distinctive fermented cabbage and garlic mixture. In the cuisine it’s somewhere between being a condiment, salad and staff of life. Fusion’s version is mildly fragrant and slightly sweet, a delicate pink color from liberal inclusion of red pepper in the fermentation process. It’s at the center of the side-dish bar, surrounded by cubed daikon radish, bean sprouts, jalapeño peppers and fried eggs with scallions.
Spicy potato stew ($7.95) is one of Chong’s signature dishes. It’s a bold meat broth with a big, whole spud filling the bowl. Understand that the Koreans have a reputation as being the tough guys of Asia. There’s nothing subtle about this stew. It looks and tastes like badass hombre food — the kind of fillup you’d want after a long day working in the fields or patrolling a frozen border.
Dried pollock soup ($8.95) is a dish I wasn’t familiar with.Major points for combining cultures comes in the form of Buffalo chicken wings getting a taekwondo kick.
Like Mexican menudo, I learned later it’s the traditional Korean hangover cure. Salted and cured North Sea pollock fish is sautéed quickly in sesame oil with garlic, daikon, fish sauce and green onions, before being boiled into soup. It’s one of the menu selections that would benefit from a description beyond the name. Cold noodles in soy milk ($7.95) could use a word sketch as well.
Several entrées involve a choice of chicken, beef or tofu served spicy Korean bulgogi style or in teriyaki sauce. They’re stir-fried with carrots, radish, scallions, sesame seed and served with rice. The bulgogi dishes may be ordered on a one to 10 spicy index, and my five was too mild. Next time, I’d have Mrs. Chong crank it up to eight.
points for combining cultures come in the form of Buffalo chicken wings
getting a taekwondo kick with your choice of straight-up hot sauce,
teriyaki or garlic soy sauce. Order them by the half-dozen ($5.75),
dozen ($10) or two-dozen ($20). Soups round out the rest of the menu,
including seafood tofu ($8.95), spicy shredded beef ($9.95) and beef
bone ($8.95). If you’re ready for a Seoul food adventure, try the chef’s
specialty ($11.95) — goat stew.
Photo by Mark Hancock
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.