Thinking Outside The (Fast Food) Box: Unusual Fusions That Work

Chefs with different backgrounds, but similar tastes.

26/04/2017 09:55

The foodie world would be nothing without its collaborations, hybridisations and mash-ups. Because, just like everywhere else in society, we need innovators and people brave enough to experiment with the norms.

Do you think people laughed at the Earl of Sandwich back in the day, when he asked his servant to place some of his roast dinner meat between two slices of bread? Probably, but who had the last laugh when he took the first bite? Exactly.

Here, we salute people with the vision to create some of the best food fusions of all time, despite their contrasting styles.

  • The Franken-baked goodies
    Dominique Ansel
    The cronut almost needs no introduction, such is its reputation as a legendary snack. For the uninitiated – where have you been? – it's simply a croissant crossed with a doughnut, as invented and trademarked by chef Dominique Ansel in his bakery in New York. As far as we know, there's still frenzied queues out of the door in both his Big Apple and London shops for the cult bite, which is limited to two per person.
  • The Welsh-Texan grill house
    TheHangFire
    If we told you that you can find some of the best barbecued meat this side of Austin, Texas in the small Welsh coastal town of Barry, would you believe us? Well, you should. First ladies of the grill, Hang Fire's Shauna Guinn and Samantha Evans travelled around the southern states of America and made it their mission to marry the tried-and-tested techniques of the Texan smokehouses with some choice cuts from the Vale of Glamorgan. And oh boy, have they smashed it. Starting out as a street food vendor in Cardiff, the couple then opened their first restaurant in Barry in 2016, launched their own cookbook and have even served up food to Dolly Parton, who gave it her seal of approval.
  • The Scottish-Stateside sandwich
    Deeneys
    Also bringing an American vibe to a Celtic classic is Deeney's, with their signature haggis grilled cheese sandwich, named the second best toastie in the whole of London, according to Time Out. Their meaty Macbeth creation takes a US diner staple and stuffs a load of Scottish sheep bits into the cheesy mix, with a touch of onion chutney too. It's been a huge hit (especially for hungover heads) at Broadway Market, London, since 2012 and the guys launched their first restaurant off the back of this unusual combo snack in Leyton in 2015.
  • Span-tish seafood platters
    Escocesa
    Ex-record producer Stephen Lironi launched his London restaurant Escocesa after reading an article saying that Scotland exported all its best seafood to Spain, as there wasn't enough of a market for it at home. So he's now hijacked the best Scottish fish and cooks it up Spanish style, producing big-flavour dishes like salt cod croquetas, gambas al ajillo and chipirones. The Guardian's Marina O'Loughlin sums it up best: “Some fine Scottish seafood, in a Spanish restaurant, in Stokey. Works for me.”
  • The Mexi-Korean wraps
    Kimchinary
    There's nothing we like better than a good street-food hybrid, especially one that works as well as Kimchinary. Hanna Söderlund was inspired by a trip to South Korea and began fusing Mexican burritos and tacos with Korean fillings – think slow-cooked bulgogi brisket, kimchi fried rice and a good ol' splash of Gochujang, all rolled up in a tortilla. She serves up her creations from a converted 1974 milk float and can be found fillings bellies with her creations at food markets and private events across the country.
  • Viva Las vegan
    Club Mexicana
    While Mexican food is usually heavy on the meat and cheese, the East London crew at Club Mexicana turned their cuisine way more animal-friendly, by making the menu completely vegan. Their Baja-style Tofish tacos are dreamy, while burritos cunningly replace shredded pork with a meat-like Asian fruit called jackfruit. Come for the fake-meat makeover, stay for their dairy-free horchata ice cream. It may not be strictly authentic, but holy guacamole, this is a delicious pairing.
  • A Latin-American and Japanese legacy
    Sushisamba
    Pub quiz question: Which country holds the largest Japanese population outside of Japan? It's actually Brazil, thanks to immigrants who moved over at the start of the 20th Century to work on coffee plantations. So while there's no shortage of excellent sushi joints in Rio and Sao Paulo, this culture-clash cuisine is celebrated in the UK at Sushisamba  restaurant, on the 39th floor of a London skyscraper. Fill up on a menu ranging from ceviche to sashimi, grilled chicken hearts to kobe beef. Perfect for those indecisive types to agree on what to eat for dinner.
  • The Full English ramen
    Koya Bar
    There's definitely more than a nod to Britain's favourite breakfast at Koya Bar in Soho, London. So alongside the miso, donburi and sake, you'll find the English Breakfast udon dish: a bowl of steaming hot udon noodles with shiitake mushrooms, a fried egg and a few rashers of bacon. A taste of this, and you'll be adding wasabi to your Bloody Mary next.
  • The Asian-Portuguese partnership
    TA TA Eatery
    Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves' passion for food spilled over into a real-life romance when the couple met working in a kitchen a few years ago. Their relationship led to their baby, the TA TA Eatery, which brings together Meng's Chinese roots with Gonçalves' Portuguese heritage through the medium of rice. Which, yes, is kind of a niche cuisine, but delicious none the less. On the menu at their Hackney-based venue you might find botifarra (pork sausage) with turnip tops and egg, congee or pork ribs with black beans and rice.
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