Peter Hsing at Karma.
Peter Hsing at Karma.

Good karma at Karma

I have no use for fusion cuisine, for the deliberate fuckery that comes of trying to jam two or three or five culinary traditions together on one plate, for the dumb manhandling of food- -- torturing it and forcing it into unnatural configurations of time or flavor or place.

Of all the ridiculous ideas to come from restaurateurs who were too bored or weird or high to just make a great steak, a lovely little pave of salmon, a spread of tekka maki or plate of chicharones, fusion might be the worst. California cuisine was damaging to the American spirit and culinary consciousness for many years after it moved out of the charmed area codes where it was invented. The phrase "New American" became a hollow excuse for the deliberate abuse of root vegetables almost the minute it was uttered; "small plates" and tapas menus proliferated for one or two beautiful seasons before quickly being subsumed by the piling on of shady operators who used them as just another excuse to lower food costs and jack prices at the same time. Karma, the Asian fusion restaurant that opened last year in the former home of Min Min Chinese at 22 South Broadway, is the exception. It is a fusion restaurant (and a tapas restaurant, for that matter) that works mostly because everything on the menu is approached with a kind of lightness and sense of humor. I didn't love everything I had there, but I did like a lot of it. And you can read all about it in this week's review.

What? You don't care to hear me ranting and raving about fusion cuisine and the terrors of American regionalism? Well, then you're in luck, because Bite Me this week is chock full of restaurant news, reported straight from the front lines, and involving one of our favorite hamburgers and one of our favorite restaurant hosts. Not in the same item, sadly.

I also visit Wokano Asian Bistro, where the owner of Karma got his start.

Read all about it here tomorrow, kids. And in the meantime, keep reading Cafe Society every day for all the restaurant news you could possibly want.

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