Boston, MA: is pan-Asian the trend of the year?

So, is it me or is Boston and the surrounding area suddenly exploding with Asian “fusion” style joints? (The scare quotes aren’t meant to be in any way negative, cross pollination in food is age old and fine by me though yeah it can sometimes go very wrong if poorly concieved and executed. Like any kind of food).

But it seems like a lot of places that are hitting right now are in this style–Sousaku Bistro (Malden), Tiger Mama (Boston), Little Big Diner (Newton) and the upcoming Ruckus Noodles (Chinatown, from the Shojo folk) and apparent expanded Kaki Lima in East Boston.

Mei Mei Kitchen has been mining this vein successfully for a while, so maybe that’s part of it? Just seems like this is something that is really on fire all of a sudden.

Definitely a current trend. Don’t forget Hojoko at Fenway.

We are seeing the same Asian confusion in the New York metro area, too. It actually began with celebrity chef Ming Tsai at his Blue Ginger in Wellesley, and Blue Dragon in Boston. He has been touting Asian fusion for years…

And Banyan!

Personally I feel the current wave (inspired by David Chang primarily) is the necessary correction and restitution for the sins of the “Asian fusion” wave of the 90s which seemed primarily a way to “validate” undesirable foreign ingredients by making them mostly American-European. The current fusion wave relies on more extended, richer appropriations from Chinese/Japanese/Korean cuisine.

that seems like a fair interpretation, and the success of the Momofuku empire is definitely inspiration for other chefs to try this sort of thing out. No doubt the broadening of the American palate over that time is key too–when you get things like Sriracha Lay’s potato chips and a pork belly explosion in the wide market, there must be a broader public to sell this angle to. I also figure that seeing someone like Andy Ricker make a go of “authentic” (here I mean the scare quotes, I don’t know what authentic really means other than a dedication to trying to make a cuisinein kind of genuine form) might help make some chefs of non-Asian heirtage make a go of trying this approach out.

I’m curious about how some of these places are. I’ve had Mei Mei Kitchen food from their truck (and liked it) but haven’t tried any of these newer places.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold