Asian Fusion

489-491 Barlow Moor Road Chorlton

December 2011
Given that three of us ordered almost exactly what we ordered last time (hence no new pictures) this meal was a surprising improvement on last month and very enjoyable. The mixed starter for 2 was as good as ever - although we did exchange the slightly disappointing mixed veg starter for a mixed grill starter this time. Protein overload for some - however our dining personnel had changed from last time too.
The main area of improvement for me were the main courses, lamb chops (pretty much always a winner) - karahi fish tikka, more distinctively individual than last time and staff curry on the bone. This was the surprise package - we went for chicken, so as to attempt a better balance for the three of us to share (1 lamb, 1 chicken, 1 fish) - and it was excellent. It was a much better dish than the equivalent lamb a few weeks back, the chicken being more integrated into the sauce, with a nice bit of a heat and a good tang of ginger. I'd come back for this on its own. I've never known chicken on the bone to stand out ahead of lamb before - usually because the lamb is both more improved by the long slow cooking, having greater tolerance of the stewing process before overcooking and because it has more to offer the broth in return - from gelatinous sinew and stronger tasting bones. But not here. We also got a pretty standard sauce with the chops that I didn't even bother trying - a bit remiss of me perhaps but you can tell just by looking. Mushroom pilau was a nice change, as was a garlic and parsley naan. Peshwari naan is always a bit too much for me and this was essentially a cake - though tasty, just too sweet. The service was excellent and all three of us recieved complimentary brandy and  bailey's. Both my compadres were driving - so not wishing to cause offence I finished the meal having all six shots and a coffee - perhaps explaining my positive state of mind. Absolute feast for 3 was £58 with 2 pints of beer and 3 coffees. I really hope Asian Fusion keeps up this standard.


Right - it's been a while. Looking at the old report and using my failing memory it seems little has changed. People still rave about it and it is good. I just wish there was a bit less pizzazz and a bit more of an attempt at original, non-base sauce, type dishes - even one or two, like nihari or haleem or proper lamb on the bone - or anything! The menu is dauntingly massive and yet most things taste pretty similar - certainly within a few distinct groups (There are 39  - yes 39 dishes in the Speciality Main Courses section alone). The taste is good, but nothing special or new. It's places like this that got me into curry cafes - 6 dishes, like it or lump it, I'd rather that than 200 which are virtually identical - well OK, not identical - tomatoey or creamy, hot or mild. That's not to say that Asian Fusion isn't a good place to go - it is. It's lively and the food's enjoyable, but it's pretty similar to many others, with not much to differentiate itself. The starters are usually good in these sorts of places - freshly grilled tikka, crispy bhajis etc - and so they were:
Mixed starter for 2
It was all very dramatic, smothered in garlic mushrooms, onions and peppers - good stuff. The main curries lacked a bit but the tikka chops were great:
Sizzling and juicy - just what you want. So what was wrong with the curries? Lamb on the bone staff (or chef) special and karahi Fish Tikka. Well they tasted more or less taste the same, as did the accompanying curry sauce to the chops. You know the drill - one big pan out of the back which makes almost all of the dishes. Not unpleasant at all but just too generic.
Karahi Fish Tikka
Lamb on the bone
Everything was fine, just unremarkable. I'd definitely come again as I find most places that are open at night and conducive to a good evening serve this kind of food - you wouldn't go to Kabana for a birthday meal with your mum.... And Asian Fusion is better at it than many at this type of set up - just don't expect anything rare or authentic. The bill for 3 was £57 + tip including 2 and a half pints. So £20 a go with one drink - again a far cry from curry cafes but we know that already - that's not what we're here for. We're here for the sizzlers, red and green flecks of pilau rice, hot towels and free Baileys. Once in a while its good fun.

Asian Fusion’s been around for a few years and has gained a number of fans. Having not eaten here for a good while we thought it was time to return. It was spur of the moment – hence no photographs, sorry. This is definitely a full on restaurant – table service, smartly dresses waiters, a bar – you know the drill. The staff are excellent – welcoming, friendly, efficient and don’t bother you too much.  The menu is of the Great British Curryhouse variety – worryingly extensive. One of the major gripes of this blog is menus that are too long – as how can all these dishes be cooked freshly? The answer is usually because they all come from a couple of base sauces and therefore the curries more or less taste the same.  And so it proved. Everything was pleasant – tandoori and tikka were good, as were bhajis etc – freshly cooked and well presented. However the main course curries, lamb on the bone and fish karahi were of the generic type – bits and bobs dropped into a sauce at the end of cooking.  Some people are into this type of British curry – but we (on this blog) tend to prefer things a bit more interesting and authentic – though they were large portions and tasty.

There’s nothing wrong with Asian Fusion’s food, but if you’re a curry lover or aficionado you might find it a bit bland by comparison to more authentic Asian places. This tasted like curry for the British palate – either that’s your bag or it isn’t. We won’t judge. Having said that, the place is well run and pleasant - £40 for a meal for 2 (with drinks) might seem a lot for an OK curry – but that’s the difference between restaurants and Curry Cafes and we all know what we’re letting ourselves in for when we opt for one over another. Perhaps the big restaurants could learn a thing or two from the smaller cafes – adopting shorter menus with distinctive individual dishes and trusting the punters to develop their palates. Just a thought.

Bit of extra info...
Not that we've tried it, but if you give 2 days notice and have a few friends you can apparently be treated to the 'Kings Table' experience - featuring a whole tandoori leg of lamb - we've heard rave reviews.

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