Category Archives: french fusion

Sticks of Bliss: Maison-Yaki delivers big flavors in bite-size portions

My only two regrets of my visit at Olmsted’s Japanese-French spinoff Maison-Yaki is passing on the chawanmushi and resisting the urge to order two of everything. 

I kept staring at the menu and contemplating if we should order the chawanmushi even after we—my son and I—ordered the bulk of our meal: 

• tempura frog legs—the melt-in-your-mouth miracle. The frog legs are delicate, buttery, savory and unforgettable. Served piping hot with a tasty green dipping sauce. This dish is a reason of its own to visit this yaki-topia. Any picky eater will love frog legs the way mine does.

• king trumpet mushrooms—Pick this plate to indulge in pleasantly chewy and satisfying mushrooms served with a diced sweet peppers and tomatoes sauce. Not sure if these mushrooms are the ones grown in house but they probably are!

• lobster & sauce americaine—Divine. A lobster patty that’s been fried and skewered then drenched in a savory sauce. We ate this all too fast.

• chicken breast and sauce allemande—Very good! Cooked perfectly and retained a good amount of moisture. 

• duck a l’orange—I loved this fatty piece of caramelized duck but the sauce was the brilliance of this particular plate. A mini egg yolk posed in the middle of an orange sauce waiting to be mixed. The end result was a luscious, creamy crave-worthy dressing.

• lamb leg & herbes de provence—Gamey, medium on the inside and roasted/grilled on the outside lamb with a light herby sauce. We loved it.

The plates came out fast and not in any order. Maison Yaki doesn’t course, so you get what you get when you get it. I loved this philosophy. It was so refreshing, like every plate that came out was a burst of surprises. Lots of flavor, lots of juicy meats and lots of French sauces that hit the spot. We surprisingly felt full. Each skewer is only two bites but the flavor was amazing. Next time we’ll need 2 (or 3) orders of frog legs. 

After all of that goodness, I was still thinking about ordering the chawanmushi until my son insisted on ordering dessert. After weighing our options, we decided that we’d get the Japanese cheesecake this visit—my son promised the wait staff, the manager and the other patrons that we’d be back next week. He gets carried away about great food like his mom. 

The cheesecake was a cloud. We found ourselves floating on air while eating it, it’s so light and fluffy. The best I’ve tasted, hands down. And it’s served with plums that thankfully, tasted like tart, saucy cherries. A flawless end to a flawless meal. 

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French Plus One: 6 of Brooklyn’s Best French-Fusion Restos

My favorite thing about French cuisine is its ability to pair with any other cuisine, to become an important part of it and, in turn, to make the other cuisine an important part of French cuisine, too. Why can’t relationships between people be that easy?

Or, maybe people fusion is that simple? If French cuisine were a person, I suppose it would have acquired many lovers that it never could say goodbye to, almost like a person that would prefer a relationship with two or more people at the same time, than one or none.

The following list spotlights Cajun, Mexican-French, and Senegalese eateries that produce beautiful, delicious and, in some cases, downright genius results of culinary multi-cultural relationships. Tchoup Shop’s shrimp and grits, Jolie Cantina’s duck confit quesadilla, and Cafe Rue Dix’s Yassa Guinar are tasty proof that polyamorous cooking is all love.

Darling NOLA Feasts: Cajun and Creole Cuisine

The Big Easy is a top-five spot on my travel bucket list. Its native cooking styles are two good reasons. Cajun and Creole are, in my opinion, vintage varieties of French-fusion cuisine due to their mixed cultural origins, heavy French influences and unique inclusions of the French palette.

Until I win my beads on Bourbon Street, or taste the original French-fusion cooking in the French Quarter, I’ll make do with exciting eats at Tchoup Shop (Tchoup is pronounced chop) and Lowerline while I dream of hurricanes, beignets and meeting the cast of “Southern Charm: New Orleans.”

Tchoup Shop
My mouth is watering, as I create a healthy list of Tchoup Shop must-tries: the crispy chicken biscuit sandwich, shrimp and grits, veggie hoppin’ john, cheesy crawfish bread, and famous duck and okra gumbo. I know that’s several mouthfuls to order, but I’m sure I’ll go back again and again to this popular Bushwick bar with Cajun aka Louisiana “country” cuisine to find favorites while checking off my must-try list.
Tchoup Shop, 50 Wycoff Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237, (929) 234-3500
 
Lowerline
Lowerline receives high praise for bringing casual Creole soul to Prospect Heights. Specializing in fresh oysters, this quaint and casual Louisiana-street namesake delivers a short but sweet menu for seafood-ies like moi. The oyster po-boy, fresh oysters and the crawfish étouffée all tempt my low-country roots. Can’t wait to try ‘em!
Lowerline, 794 Washington Ave, Brooklyn NY 11238, (347) 533-7110, https://www.lowerlinebk.com

Fiesta y Fête: Mexican-French Cuisine

When the Millionaire Margarita recipe—tequila, lime juice, orange juice, simple syrup and Cointreau—was revealed to me, I should’ve realized then that the Mexican-French combo was undeniably great. But I recently had a lightbulb moment when I googled French fusion in NY and found that Mexican-French cuisine was and still is a hit. After finding quite a few spots that serve Mexican croques, I’m a staunch believer in the perfect Latino/Catalan bite.
 
Jolie Cantina
It’s French! It’s Mexican! It’s more than just a “pretty bar” on Smith Street. In fact, pretty isn’t the word I’d call Jolie Cantina’s bar area, which is also home to a bicycle that delightfully hangs from the ceiling. How Avant-Garde! But the lobster chilaquiles, duck enchiladas and croque señorita—substitutes ham in the croque madam with chorizo—are all pretty creative dishes. Jolie Cantina’s shrimp fajitas are tasty but not a sizzling hot example of Mexican-French fusion, rather a more traditional version of the dish.
Jolie Cantina, 241 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231, (718) 488-0777, https://www.joliecantina.com

Santos Anne

If the Santos Anne’s dinner menu doesn’t sufficiently rep its fusion theme, check out its cocktail list. Smokey, refreshing, floral and spicy, the drinks at Santos Anne are unapologetically multiculti, if not crave-worthy. I’d start with a Fleur Spritz, a floral accompaniment perfect for a light appetizer. A Gentleman’s Sidekick, a strong and sweet drink similar to a boulevardier, would be a delightful end of the night treat.
Santos Anne, 366 Union Ave, Brooklyn NY 11211, (718) 486-6979, http://www.santosannebk.com

Of Our Canoe: Senegalese Cuisine 

I’m a little jealous that Brooklyn has a much smaller Senegalese population than Harlem. It’s evident in the scarce number of West African restaurants that are thriving in Brooklyn, compared to that, which is at least twice as much, that are thriving Uptown. Nonetheless I’m happy that we do have a bit of Senegalese culture in the warm and sensual Cafe Rue Dix and colorful Bed-Stuy favorite Joloff, among other smaller spots.

Cafe Rue Dix
When I brought my son to Crown Heights Cafe Rue Dix for an impromptu date night, he of course did all the things a five-year-old boy would do in his unique position of power: woofed down his grilled salmon entree, served with unbelievable black olive mashed potatoes and Shirley Temple with extra cherries; danced to the very energizing Electronica drum music; successfully pulled me away from my Yassa Guinar—lemony chicken and onion confit over couscous or rice—to dance with him; and wooed the beautiful 20-somethings who were dining at a nearby table. When I return to the lovely Cafe Rue Dix, I want to sample the duck confit and the grilled lamb chops (and a side of the phenomenal black olive mashed potatoes!), sans my little Romeo. I’ll miss him but I can drink as many El diablos as I want—probably not more than two because thankfully, they’re strong.
Cafe Rue Dix, 1451 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY 11216, https://www.caferuedix.com

Joloff
Shame on me for not eating at this long-standing, family-friendly establishment, but my sister swears by Joloff’s fare, especially Senegal’s national dish Thiebou Djeun—a fish dish served with vegetables and Jollof rice. The food looks so comforting, just like homemade. Popular fusion options abound: Yassa Yapp, grilled lemony lamb chops, Yassa Sipaakh, grilled shrimp in lemon and onion sauce, and Curry Tofu.
Joloff Restaurant, 1168 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY 11216, Joloff’s Yelp page

Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash