Asian Fusion confusion?

Years ago, Asian restaurant menus were specific. Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, etc. Thru the years the Chinese introduced Japanese sushi bars and cuisine into their premises. Then came all the other variations/combinations on multi-national Asian cuisines fused into one menu. Not that its bad all the time, but it does get confusing. Not knowing exactly what you are eating. Should the diner care? What do you think?

Do you have any specific examples of places that do this you are thinking about?

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I think the pan-Asian menu you see is done for a broader audience ($$$). I don’t care really because I don’t really eat at those places but I get why they exist ($$$).

Slightly related a lot of non-Shanghainese Chinese restaurants add in xiaolongbaos to the menu. I see Northern places in SGV and Cantonese places in SF put XLB’s on the menu. It’s a money grab too imo because it’s what’s popular (they see the lines at Din Tai Fung).

You also see Asian-American chefs adding pan-Asian influences to western dishes, fine dining, and fusion.

I guess it’s all about the $$$

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Also I think there is some hyper regionality going on. You have a restaurant like Golden Delight with Vietnamese/ Chinese dishes when there are many Chinese people who live near the border and who do enjoy and regularly eat Vietnamese dishes.

Similarly with the history of settlement (forced or not), Japanese Dishes in Korean places. More Japanese places having items like KimChee fried rice because in Japan it’s fairly popular.

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I imagine this is region-specific, since I can’t think of a Chinese place in Los Angeles that has Japanese food on the menu. I think a good number of sushi places in LA are owned and operated by Korean people, though.

I remember the first time my dad said he could order XLB at dim sum, my reaction was, “WTF?!?!?!?!”

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That definitely wasn’t a option during dim sum in the 90’s SGV I grew up eating in.

Asian fusion and pan-Asian restaurants have been around for a long time. In the 70s it was Chinese restaurant, Japanese restaurant, Thai restaurant, I don’t recall people saying “Asian” until the 80s.

I remember the small town I went to college in (not Westwood, shocker of shockers) had two pan-Asian restaurants, a nominally Thai restaurant that also had sushi and some Korean dishes and a more generic one that mostly existed to sell drinks to underage students until they got busted. There was also an Indian restaurant that was maybe actually legitimately good?

Many (even most?) of the ‘commodity sushi’ (super spicy dragon roll with garlic mayo and eel sauce) places I’ve encountered in LA, SF, and even out here in Sacramento, seem to be owned by Korean families. Many include a couple of offshoot dishes (bi bim bop, gochujang chicken wings, etc) that speak directly to it.

When I lived and worked in Marin county many years ago, there was a place in San Rafael called Yu Shang’s (still there as far as I know). It was half cheap American-Chinese (sweet 'n sour, fried rice, etc) and half full on cheap sushi bar. It’s the only time I’ve seen what could have been two totally different restaurants conjoined that way.

Somehow, the food from either side was, while not spectacular, better than one would expect given the type of place and the prices. It was a regular lunch stop for our crew.

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When a sushi place has soju on the menu, I figure the owners are Korean.

That’s the first thing that popped into my head. I don’t order them except at Shanghainese places.

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it’s a complicated question. i don’t love that some restaurant owners cater to and promote a perception that all asians are the same. but they’re just trying to make a living.

Isn’t ultimately the most important question if a dish tastes good or not (and not if it is “authentic” or “fusion”) ?

One Chinese restaurant I knew made a good living selling half-price sushi at their sushi bar along with a full Chinese menu. The owning couple were mixed: wife was Chinese, husband Japanese.