Ben Walker shares his experience of Fallowfield’s Fuzion
There are some certainties in one’s life, things you go to on a regular basis that make you happy. It might be a big old cable knit jumper, or a TV series seductive in its intrigue and intricacy, but I cannot eat my Ralph Lauren or The Wire box set. So, to maintain standards, change out of the pull over, pause the Baltimore wire-tapping action, and why not go and try one of the finest pan-Asian eateries around? My culinary happy place, my gastronomic go-to, is Fallowfield’s Fuzion.
Rows of benches, neatly folded napkins, and regimentally parallel chopsticks reside in a warmly lit space situated in front of an open kitchen. The space works; it is clean and neat, reflecting the ethos of the food. So, now seated, let me play Sherpa through these pan-Asian street food delights.
Being in studentville, the old chestnut of “just some tap water please,” is a well-worn adage. Their satisfying green tea, however, served in quaint ceramic beakers, is offered with free refills. Also recently on the drinks menu has appeared a Hitachino Nest range of beers, which are quite something and are still only breaking through in some of the more specialised stockists in the UK market. Along with drinks, we like to punt for some Thai spicy prawn crackers with sweet chilli, or maybe wasabi peas, powerful with their horseradish kick, bringing the taste buds alive; a mere taster of what’s to come.
Nibbles with drinks are a good call because the menu will require some scrutiny. It is not short, and I doff my sedge hat to the waiting staff who have it down cold. The miso soup is a good way to kick things off. It arrives swiftly and its intense umami heft with fresh spring onions and tofu create a concoction guaranteed to beat any one or a combination of the following: the rain, the cold, a cold, a hangover. The big Chinese soup spoons allow for great reservoirs of miso to be scoffed, whilst the chopsticks slow the pace of eating, which fortunately extends the duration of eating—but you can of course risk being judged and ask for western cutlery.
I try to choose things I haven’t previously had, but I do have a couple of favourites—the fall backs—the cable knits of dishes. Firstly, the Thai green chicken curry with boiled rice is a bowl resplendent with fresh vegetables, chunky succulent pieces of chicken and a rich, creamy, flavoursome sauce. Too often in pan-Asian high-street joints the sauce and meat are mere garnishes to a Himalayan rice mound, but here everything is correctly proportioned for our greedy western appetites. On this particular occasion my dinner companion opted for the Mee Goreng, a dry aromatic and spicy Indonesian dish with chicken, char sui, and shrimp, served with the skinny rice noodle vermicelli (Nasi Goreng is served with rice). This is a really well-crafted dish that offers a balance of flavours and textures. Having originated from the Chinese Chow Mein, the Goreng is a triumph of pan-Asian food culture.
Now, if all this deliciousness wasn’t enough, there is the whole issue of sides. This is a serious issue, because they are seriously good. The left hand column of the menu, top to bottom, lists all the savoury goodness one can imagine. We chose two for the table. The prawn toast, which is deep and sesame seeded, gives a crunch before the rich soft prawn-ful filling hits the palate and comes with a sweet and spicy chilli sauce for dipping. The salt and pepper squid is simply a super-charged calamari. Not rings, but great hunks of squid are encrusted in a wonderfully crisp and seasoned batter; there is always the inevitable squabble over who gets the last bit—no room for gentlemanly courtesy here—and with a swift jab of my chopstick the last morsel is mine.
So let us recap. Crackers, soup, a big rice dish, two halves of two side dishes and three flasks of tea is a whole lot of food for a big eater like me. We are in ‘truly stuffed’ territory and after splitting a bill of under forty quid, which includes a tip, we can now and will continue to waddle home thoroughly satisfied and content with Fuzion.
Furthermore, if the refuge of home on a dreary Sunday evening is just too cosy to leave for too long, phone ahead and order takeout, so you can keep on your house clothes, push on to the second series, and eat with a fork.