One of the great joys of visiting Fusion Kitchen is watching Rupal and Ruhi Patel feed first-time customers enough tasters to make any meal afterward completely superfluous.
Like a child with a new toy, Rupal nearly bursts at the seams as he gives out spoonfuls of fresh curries, bites of fish, nibbles of vegetarian sloppy joe and sips of mango lassi smoothies. He watches them expectantly for approval and, in the times I’ve been there, he’s never been disappointed.
There’s a reason for that, of course — Fusion Kitchen makes some very, very tasty food — but their attitude of joyful excitement to share their cuisine makes it even better.
The menu is an interesting one. It’s clear that the Patels never want to send someone away hungry or disappointed, so the menu bends and stretches to accommodate every palate. That means there are some items Indian food fans just won’t care about.
A turkey sandwich? No. I might love Fusion Kitchen, but I also know precisely what I love about it: curries.
More than anything else about this restaurant, the thing you need to best appreciate is this: Ruhi Patel makes four new curries every day.
If you like one of her curries today, you better order a second helping to go, because it won’t be there tomorrow or next week or probably in the next six months.
She is a mad scientist in the kitchen and she continues to amaze me each time with her ingenuity and skill.
Here’s the breakdown of the curries — Two will have meat and two won’t. Two will be spicy and two won’t.
And when we talk about spicy, I’d like to bring in the sage words of Rupal who says, “I can’t eat the really spicy stuff! People ask us to make them the food we eat. But this is the food we eat! I can’t handle the heat some people want!”
Occasionally, bending to the will of some very masochistic people, Ruhi will create a curry that will blow out your tastebuds and ensure the necessity of a Prilosec before bed.
Usually, the “spicy” curries have a nice, normal level of heat. The kind of spice that will start you sweating after a few bites, but not so hot that you can’t taste anything but pain.
A small plate of curry is $5.99, but you can ask them to mix-and-match curries so you can try more than one. A double plate is $8.99 and, so long as you have a refrigerator wherever you’re heading afterward, it’s a great value.
Best of all, Ruhi takes great pride in making homestyle curries that are healthier than most other Indian restaurants. If your problem with health food is that it usually doesn’t have enough flavor, Fusion Kitchen is the right place for you.
If the spice level does get too intense for you, be sure to get the mango lassi smoothie ($2.49). Not only does it taste phenomenal, the yogurt in the drink is an instant panacea for scorched tongues.
I also always get samosas (2 for $2.99) because samosas are one of nature’s greatest inventions.
“Does...does nature really ‘invent’ anything, Greg?”
Okay, maybe not, but I already took my sleeping pill, so as long as I don’t start typing gibberish we’ll be eagle lake handlebar Fran Tarkenton just fine.
Samosas are fist-sized fried pastries full of potatoes, peas and spices. It’s a flavorful starch bomb just waiting to explode in your mouth. Dip it in chutney for a real treat.
Always keep an eye on the special board, too. The Patels are always experimenting with new items and one-off dishes that you’ll kick yourself for not trying. And if I see you kick yourself and it’s not hard enough, I’ll take over.
Save room for dessert, too, because Fusion Kitchen recently started making its own ice cream in relative normal (pistachio) and decidedly bonkers (saffron) flavors. Yes, saffron — the most expensive substance by weight on the planet and they make ice cream out of it.
Pistachio is my favorite because pistachios are wonderful and everyone should love them. The saffron takes a little getting used to, but it’s a very perfumey treat.
If you’re with someone who insists on getting a sandwich, make sure they get the Tikka Sandwich ($5.49), which is kind of like an awesome version of a chicken salad sandwich. It’s not the best thing on the menu — that’s the curries — but it’s a tasty variation on the classic.
I’ve also heard rumors of a special prix fixe Sunday meal with lots of Indian food that would never make it on the regular menu. When you stop in (and you absolutely should stop in soon), you might ask about it.