Top

dining

Stories

 

Asian and South American-Inspired Fare at Fusion Taco

The duo at this downtown spot are getting people all hot and bothered.

The pork taco has large chunks of char siu-style meat, which is traditionally skewered, glazed, or seasoned and cooked over an open fire. The meat is fork-tender, and the black beans provide a nice contrast to the roasted corn salsa, a cool, slightly sweet/slightly spicy mixture of fresh corn, red peppers, onions and jalapeños. Though the texture of the pork in this taco is similar to that of the beef short rib, the two tacos are completely different, thanks to unique toppings (raita, a spiced yogurt dressing, and tomato and cucumber relish), as well as the different seasonings used to develop the flavors.

Where the pork is glazed with a sweet barbecue sauce, the short rib gets a curry vindaloo treatment. The pork is Chinese-style, with a hint of Latin America in the form of corn salsa, while the short rib is all Indian, thanks to the traditional raita and spicy cumin-scented vindaloo curry, in which the rib is braised.

All the tacos, in fact, demonstrate a clear understanding of cultural flavor nuances and how they might work well with one another. Even the fish tacos with blackened tilapia, an arguably traditional Mexican dish, get an infusion of worldliness from a vaguely Italian cilantro pesto. So, too, does the grilled chicken taco differ from the classic fajita style, thanks to its Indonesian satay cooking and the unusual tart peanut sauce that grabs you at first bite and never lets go.

The nachos at Fusion Taco include corn salsa and barbecued pork.
Troy Fields
The nachos at Fusion Taco include corn salsa and barbecued pork.

Location Info

Map

Fusion Taco

801 Congress St., Suite 101
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Restaurant > Asian Fusion

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Details

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Chips and chili con queso: $3.95

Chinese BBQ Berkshire pork taco: $3.23

Seared duck taco: $4.50

Blackened tilapia taco: $3.46

Agedashi tofu taco: $3

Lamb keema taco: $3.92

Chicken-fried oyster taco: $4.16

Nachos: $10.95

Seared tuna kale salad: $12.01

Related Stories

More About

The same peanut sauce pops up in the seared tuna and kale salad, which is something of a mishmash of disparate ingredients that really shouldn't work. Mango chunks and peanuts? Delicate, nearly raw tuna and hearty kale? Carrots and cashews? Sure, it's not like mixing ketchup and milk, but the salad fixings don't seem obvious to me, and yet the resulting combination of flavors is something I can't get out of my mind, even weeks after trying it for the first time. It's refreshing yet earthy, tropical yet almost Japanese. It's kale in possibly its best iteration — smothered in peanut sauce with bright bursts of mango to break the monotony of yet another kale salad.

Nachos also bring something new to the table, or new to me, at least. In spite of my affinity for queso, I long ago swore off nachos drenched in a processed­-cheese sauce. I prefer my nachos with freshly shredded cheese on top that's been broiled until it melts and bubbles up in little hollow golden mounds.

The nachos at Fusion Taco do not make use of fresh cheese. There's nothing really melty on them, nothing to cause the chips to stick together like the nachos of my youth. And yet I adore them. Possibly because they're topped with the same queso that initially piqued my interest in Fusion Taco, or possibly because the thick corn chips are cut and fried fresh and delivered still steaming in a handmade ceramic bowl. It could also be the brilliant combination of the corn salsa and barbecued pork, here topping nachos instead of stuffed in a taco. I'm not sure there is any one specific element that caused me to reject my former nacho rules in favor of a new nacho philosophy, but I daresay Fusion Taco brings out the adventurer in all of us.
_____________________

The word "fusion" is everywhere these days. It's about as trendy as "locavore" or "artisan," and its definition is equally as vague. Back when the restaurant first opened, Grossman even told the Houston Chronicle's Greg Morago that he didn't like the word. In this instance, though, it kind of works.

The tacos truly are a fusion, which is "a combination or mixture of things," according to Merriam-Webster. They incorporate the best elements of many worlds, and the results aren't your typical wannabe amalgamations, but truly thoughtful blends of east and west.

I don't know Sharaby and Grossman personally, but I imagine the restaurant as something of a metaphor for their relationship. There's Grossman, the quieter of the two, with deep-set, heavy lidded eyes, and then there's Sharaby, a take-charge type with a smoldering stare. Their combined talents have produced one of the best new restaurants downtown, a place whose fusion of flavors and creative, love-inducing dishes is worthy of all the strong language and emotion it is provoking.

kaitlin.steinberg@houstonpress.com

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
7 comments
matt906
matt906

When I went the food was bland and at 4 per taco, way over priced. 

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

If she's there I will take my business elsewhere, read some reviews the aforementioned stare is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes poor and downright abusive customer service. If you only got glared at, consider yourself lucky.

Jenandtonic
Jenandtonic

This was a well written and hunger inducing review. I need to make a point to visit soon.

del.martinis
del.martinis topcommenter

The pic of the The Nachos doesn't look too appetizing, sorry to say, even though they may be.

WestSideBob
WestSideBob topcommenter

Stopped by for lunch two weeks ago and had the Berkshire Pork tacos.  While tasty, the pork in each taco consisted of two large squarish chunks of meat.  It was impossible to eat them as tacos.  Had to disassemble and eat with fork.  The taste was good but it wasn't a taco.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@gossamersixteen  She was perfectly pleasant when I was there, and the food is totally worth it in my opinion. 

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@WestSideBob  That's a fair point. I attacked most of the tacos on the menu with a fork. They should provide chopsticks just to further the whole fusion thing :)

 
Loading...