For years before pho and banh mi became part of the lingua franca for local foodies, many Vietnamese families got into the restaurant business serving New Orleans flavors, like gumbo, fried seafood platters and perhaps yakamein. Today, many more of them are choosing to showcase their own traditional flavors, and Vietnamese noodle shops are spreading rapidly around the suburbs and in New Orleans proper.
One relatively new addition to the scene, however, combines both approaches, and adds a little sushi for good measure.
Fusion Café has been around for about a year, quietly serving pho, banh mi, bun salads and spring rolls on one side of the menu and roast beef po-boys, crawfish pies and fried shrimp platters on the other. There’s also an extensive selection of sushi rolls and Japanese restaurant standards like gyoza, edamame and seaweed salad.
There is little actual culinary fusion going on between the cuisines, whose flavors keep to their own menu sections (the well-established idea of the crawfish roll notwithstanding). There is a banh mi selection, for instance, and a separate po-boy list. But here’s an off-menu tip: ask for any of the po-boys to be prepared “Vietnamese style” and they’ll put that fried seafood or gravy-soaked roast beef on the lighter banh mi bread and dress it with crunchy pickled carrot and radish, cucumber spears, fresh cilantro, raw jalapenos and mayonnaise.
The multicultural menu means you can also start with an order of onion rings, move to a Philadelphia roll and finish up with Vietnamese-style roasted quail, all washed down with a frozen bubble tea bobbing with tapioca balls. Fusion Café serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
5000 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 309-4991