A five-part journey into Houston's fusion scene starts with some noodles

"Are dishes like the Caesar salad and the surf and turf popular because of the recognizable names?" I ask Milstein.

"Exactly," he replies.

"Are Asian flavors creeping into the mainstream in Houston?"

A chicken and beef sate plate served with a spicy peanut sauce is outstanding.
Deron Neblett
A chicken and beef sate plate served with a spicy peanut sauce is outstanding.


832-328-1818. Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Curry chicken noodle lunch special: $4.25
Fook-kien lam mien: $5.95
Malaysian eggplant: $6.95
Nasi lemak: $4.95
Malaysian fried crab: $12.95
Tamarind prawn: $12.95
Sate: $4.95
Rojak: $4.95
Curry beef: $7.95

More from "The Future of Fusion" series

6163 Wilcrest Drive

"Big time," says Milstein.

I ask him why benjy's calls its food "modern American cuisine" rather than fusion cuisine.

"I think that fusion cuisine is basically what modern American food is," he says.

It's only a matter of time before Malaysia Restaurant picks up some Americanisms to add to the multicultural mix. Since they don't have big meaty Dungeness crabs in Malaysia, you could say the fried crab dish I liked so much is already a Malaysian-American fusion dish. No doubt the chicken, beef and shrimp taste different here too.

While Malaysian immigrants adapt their homeland cuisine to our local ingredients, modern American chefs like Stephen Milstein will borrow their flavors and introduce them to mainstream diners in innovative dishes of their own. Whether you call this process fusion, assimilation or simple coexistence, it's a two-way street that's changing the way we eat.

"The Future of Fusion" looked at five Houston fusion cuisines in an attempt to understand what the foods say about the cultures that created them. The complete series can be found online and will be presented at an academic panel titled "Global Food? Fusion, Creolization and Hybridity in Culinary Culture" at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association in Houston this November.

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