Whatever happened to fusion cuisine…

…was a valid question only a couple of years ago. Kitchen styles called Pacific Rim, Sino-French or California had lost edge and fascination by then, the Spanish age arose and people were fed up with the combination of sushi and sauerkraut, miso and mint lamb. Restaurants everywhere in the world, encouraged by the Spanish renaissance, began re-focussing on regional products and local traditions instead of inventing one flashy multicultural signature dish after the other. Well, here we are in 2010. And the tables seem to be turning again.

Fusion is back, in Paris it’s even all the rage, I’d say. We’ve been talking about Yam’tcha’s fame here earlier, where a French lady cooks with a Hong Kong twist. Fumiko Kono is a celebrity here, the flying chef from Japan, teaching at Alain Ducasse’s school every now and then. French Food critics explore Korean eateries what they really haven’t done before. In a week or so, I’ll join a friend to attend a cooking event launched by ex-three-star-master Alain Senderens who will publicly explore Japanese food and aromas. Yet what really makes this new trend complete, for me, is a small bistro called Sept’n close to République in Rue Rampon.

It’s a little restaurant run by a hard-working Japanese chef who started his one-man-business some 17 months ago. He’s not seeking stars, obviously, he’s not even aiming that high, he just follows his modern (and modest) approach to French food enriched and refined by international and Far Eastern influences yet without making a big fuzz of it. His dishes don’t yell at you like they used to do in the 1980s and ’90s: hey, just look at me, don’t you think I’m really, really great and cool and extremely original? At Sept’n the food simply tries to convince. To be good. To feed. To be quite cheap. The food is either basically French with an Asian twist or Asian in substance but with a French air. When I ate there I thought by myself: this is it. Fusion is coming home. And when it’s done the Sept’n way, we’re likely to have it around for quite a while. ‘Cause this isn’t about fashion; it’s about good food.

Steak frites? Yes and no: fusion à la Sept'n.

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