While fusion cuisine has certainly received a lot of traction in recent years, it has actually been around for centuries. Many inspired chefs love to blur the lines between different cooking styles, making for some very memorable meals. Here are 10 restaurants from coast to coast that are doing just that.
XIX (a.k.a. Nineteen) (Edmonton, AB)
With citrus and soy-glazed pork belly steamed buns, followed by smoked duck with beet perogies, overseas flavours and Alberta cuisine truly collide here at Nineteen. For some lighter fare, they have a seared ahi tuna and kale salad, but if you’re up for something hearty, go for the hoisin-glazed short ribs with béarnaise sauce, garnished with crispy onion rings.
Boralia (Toronto, ON)
What do you get when you take recipes from both the Indigenous peoples and the Canadian settlers, and apply some modern techniques? Some historical yet modern-day fusion, also known as Boralia. Touted as one of the most original restaurant concepts of the past year in Toronto, expect nothing but truly creative plates, like sweetbreads served with black garlic and split pea miso or mussels smoked in pine needles with pine ash butter. Start off with some devilled Chinese tea eggs, a recipe that at its core, dates back to 1860 — little piece of edible history.
Carino/Carino Riserva (Calgary, AB)
An interesting harmony of Italian and Japanese cooking makes Carino (and its newer sister spot Riserva) one of the most unique examples of fusion in the country. The mozzarella agedashi, a caprese-inspired dish with tender cheese, tempura basil leaves and ume paste (a pickled plum paste), and the sizzling gnocchi in dashi broth are just a few of the one-of-a-kind dishes you can experience here.
The Good Son (Toronto, ON)
Top Chef Canada alumnus, Vittorio Colacitti opts for a line-up of creative dishes that doesn’t necessarily combine different food cultures, but rather highlights the places he’s traveled to. Want a simple pizza done Neapolitan-style, or maybe some potato-crusted shrimp sitting atop a fresh mango salad topped with crushed peanuts? This place has got you covered.
Nu Burger Sushi Bar (Calgary, AB)
Big, juicy burgers and sushi rolls aren’t typical things you’d see together on a menu everyday. However such is the case at this quirky little downtown restaurant that prides itself on out-of-the-box creations. From the Double Cheese “Burgushi” (their word for a burger-sushi mash up) to a deep-fried sushi roll with bacon, cheese, local grass-fed beef and spicy Japanese mayo, the food may seem a little weird, but it works!
Patois (Toronto, ON)
Robust Caribbean spices pair up with authentic Chinese dishes here at Patois for food that is truly memorable and fun. The jerk chicken chow mein is a crowd favourite, as is the dirty fried rice. The room is compact and lively too, adding to the unique experience. You can also get some good bang for your buck, as you can order the entire menu for your table for only $110. Now that’s a bargain!
Side Door (Ottawa, ON)
More than a few genres of cuisine find their way onto the menu at this popular restaurant in the Byward Market. Firstly, there are the signature tacos that can be filled with anything from jerk chicken to sprouted lentil fritters. Then, there are the share plates, like tuna sashimi with yuzu marmalade or Vietnamese salt and pepper calamari. There are also big plates with such options as char sui-style pork belly, butter poached lobster with green curry and more. Finish off your meal with a doughnut-sharing platter and you’ve pretty much taken a trip around the world in one sitting.
Studio East (Halifax, NS)
Halifax’s newest restaurant is all about fun, flavourful fare that’s loosely street food-inspired. There’s a warm sushi roll that looks like a roll, eats like a roll, but has all of the taste as a big, spicy Korean rice bowl. You can also try the pork belly (with perfectly crispy skin), steamed buns and fermented Cambodian sausage skewers, drizzled with aioli and chopped cilantro. The food packs a real punch, so opt for a pint of local beer to refresh your palate.
Torafuku (Vancouver, BC)
This newer Vancouver eatery sticks to the Asian cuisine when it comes to its food, blending Korean, Chinese and Japanese flavours together for some interesting bites. Chef Clement Chan’s (Top Chef Canada season three alum) signature gochujang chicken wings with ramen crumble are definitely a crowd favourite, as is the calamari. Don’t forget to order a sake-based cocktail like ‘Yogi Pear’ to wash it all down.
Varsha (Victoria, BC)
If a casual Indian-fusion meal is what you’re looking for on the island, look no further than this comfortable spot in downtown Victoria. Varsha uses Indian flavours in traditional applications like pakoras and samosas, but goes a step further with butter chicken sauced chicken wings, masala-spiced fries and tandoori grilled fish tacos.