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A new twist on going fusion

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090203_17.jpg

Executive Chef An Woong Gyun’s Fusion Sushi combines Japanese style

with Korean flavours, producing unique but simple fare at a reasonable

price

Photo by:

Heng Chivoan

Executive Chef Ahn Woong Gyun prepares one of his signature dishes at Fusion Sushi in Phnom Penh on Monday.

A tasty teriyaki sauce

-Garlic
-Pepper

-Leek

-Seaweed

-Soy sauce

-Sugar

-Water

Ingredients vary according to the amount of sauce you wish to make. Begin with water. Soy sauce and sugar will be half the amount of water, and the

rest of the ingredients are to taste. Boil all ingredients and reduce by 1/3. Strain and

reduce by 1/3 or until thickened. When using sauce to cook meat: Cook

under low heat broiler in oven. Spread sauce on meat every 5 to 10

minutes until done.

Fusion restaurants are not new, but Fusion Sushi puts a whole new spin on the idea. Originally coined in the 1960s as a blending of French and Chinese food, fusion restaurants became popular in the West in the 1970s. Eventually, the concept spread to include all kinds of food combinations and is now popular around the world.

"[Fusion Sushi is] the first fusion Japanese [and Korean] restaurant," said Executive Chef Ahn Woong Gyun. "Actually, before [there were] a lot of Japanese restaurant[s] here, but for Korean and Japanese mix it's the first time. "

By blending elements of Korean sauces with traditional Japanese styles of cooking, Chef Ahn has developed an entirely fresh form of fusion food that's uniquely delicious yet simple. Take, for example, the grilled sanma (US$6). This dense, smokey-flavored fish is prepared in a savory marinade, grilled to perfection and served with the head and tail intact.

Chef Ahn began cooking in the mid-'90s in Seoul, at a Japanese restaurant where he trained with a master chef. "When he was young he loved Japanese food," said Oh Jae Hoon, An's friend and translator for the interview. This was when An was 15 or 16 years old. When asked what some of the challenges are to cooking in Cambodia, he said, "It's very difficult to find some things like Korean sauce". Many of the ingredients are imported from Korea, but in order to keep costs down, he has learned to improvise.

Discrete but tasty menu

The menu is divided into sections of sashimi, soups and salads, entrees and sides. Sashimi specials run between $19 and $50 for combination sets. Sushi rolls run between $10 and $16, while entrees go for $6 to $15. Overall the food is exceptional, and although the menu is by no means extensive, there is a great variety in what you can order.

The pollack hot soup ($7) is a fish-based soup with an earthy flavor, well-balanced with sweet turnips, mushrooms and a firm white fish. It is spicy and almost reminiscent of a Manhattan clam chowder. The sushi rolls are extravagantly large and loaded with savory slices of fish. My personal favorite on the menu is the salmon sashimi bibimbab ($8). It is served in a large stone bowl and comprises a mixture of shredded cabbage topped with diced salmon sashimi and fish roe - this dish is to die for. It's served with a spicy red sauce similar to French dressing, but I prefer a light soy sauce mixed with wasabi. All dishes are served with a variety of kim chi, rice and miso soup.

The ambiance at Fusion Sushi is a bit cool, with dark concrete overtones softened by natural Earth elements. Tables outline the perimeter walls, providing window seating, and large and small private rooms are also available. The walkway between the larger rooms is a Plexiglas floor, beneath which lie stones, branches and sand illuminated by recessed lighting.

Fusion Sushi is open from 11:30am to 10:00pm seven days a week and is located on France Avenue and Street 84 in the Cara Hotel. For more information, call 023 986 114.

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