On a recent visit to Chennai, I happened to visit a swanky, local restaurant, Fusion 9, with friends. A franchise of a Hyderabadi brand by the same name, the claims made by Fusion 9 are the same as what every other restaurant screams out from their proverbial rooftops – authenticity, expat chef, variety and so on.
Reality unfortunately is different.
Expats can be bad cooks too, really. Most I know, especially those who fancy themselves ‘home chefs’, yet another creature I refuse to acknowledge the existence of, go goggle-eyed and giggly the moment they see a foreigner in chef’s whites and begin an ejaculation of phrases designed to show how much (usually how little) they know about food, while the person in question, usually male, pulls up a well-practiced, plastic smile and patiently waits for the barrage to end.
Authenticity; here, I address chefs and diners alike. Do you really know what’s authentic and what’s not? Seriously? What you’re saying therefore is, in a country where the nature of food changes every hundred odd kilometres, you’re one of those enlightened souls who know the exact recipe for Sambar and can hold your own equally with the right recipe for Rogan Josh too. If you really think so, you’re demented. If you like the way your Mamma makes Sambar, go ask her to make it; if you’re a chef, try not to wax fiction on the so-called authenticity of your meal. You show me one authentic ethnic dish in a restaurant and I’ll show you an ass in whites.
[quote type=”center”]While we’re on the subject, the Lotophagi appear to have captured the menu development market. I can’t see any other reason for the huge gap between what’s offered and what’s ultimately delivered. [/quote]
The crap we were served for most part at Fusion 9, in a very friendly manner, accompanied by a talented group of singers, in the most well-done environs wasn’t close to either the menu description, which I assume the oh-so-enlightened expat chef designed, based on the huge mug-shot and banner outside, or what it claimed to be.
Oily, deep fried spring rolls, stuffed with a bland, pasty mixture of meat of indeterminate origin that masqueraded as pot-stickers; hard, dry, pats of unknown meat, merrily taking space on our table in the name of Parmesan burgers and a veritable avalanche of similar foods, few of which I can honestly say met expectations or even the menu description. Some of the food was downright idiotic like my tenderloin steak. Cut in a manner that the good chef must have wet dreams about, in praise of his creativity, I had a hard time eating it because the grains turned up the wrong way rendering the meat unusable. The only way to eat it was to grab it in one hand and rip it with my teeth, setting aside an ineffective fork and knife.
I guess folks in Chennai have few fine dining options for western food and probably have little choice but to return to Fusion 9. If you can, avoid.
Ed: Cover photo not from Fusion 9.