Sunday, July 19, 2009

Oishii Asian Fusion

Duck Fajitas, Asian Style; Oishii, Mt. Kisco

Is it me, or is there a glut of Asian Fusion here in Westchester? And are any of these fusion dishes being fused particularly well? I have my doubts, especially when I see fusion menus starting to resemble Cheesecake Factory-sized binders (page 1: sushi; page 2: the ubiquitous Pad Thai and Sesame Chicken; page 3: sauces and noodles, etc.). Why won’t some of these restaurants hunker down and produce, say, the best Vietnamese or Mongolian food in Westchester instead of offering lots and lots of “pretty good” stuff from all over Asia? Cause… I dunno, Asia’s a big place.

I suspect I’ve just written a terribly unmerited lead-in to Oishii in Mount Kisco. I’m not picking on Oishii. And I’m not telling Oishii to make Mongolian food. It’s that just that I had mixed feelings on meeting my friend Danielle there, because I don't know if I've ever seen Fusion done exceptionally well.
Oishii is the former Mt. Fuji Japanese restaurant (right next to the Dunkin Donuts on North Bedford Road), now under new management and renovated. I had never been to Mt. Fuji, so I can’t tell you what’s different, but Oishii is pleasant-looking enough, and I get the sense that a lot of money was put into the renovation. The bar has that modern neon blue glow, ambient beats resound, and tableware is attractive (the placemats are these thin, straw-like Jackson Pollock-esque creations). It’s quite comfortable and simultaneously contemporary. There’s also a sense of earnestness that might need to be toned down. On the night of our visit, Danielle and I were flipping through the massive menu, not quite sure if we wanted to share dishes or split sushi. While we were discussing this, clearly still holding our menus and pointing to items, our server came over, not once, not twice, but five times to ask if we were ready. What was most bothersome was that the servers were keeping a watchful eye on us from only a few feet away—it would’ve been incredibly easy for us to signal someone merely by looking in their general direction, and then have them come over, rather then have the waitress keep coming back to our table and making us feel rushed.

In the end, we ordered a lot. (Maybe that’s why the menu is so large. Maybe they’re geniuses for creating such large menus.)

Danielle arrived before me; while she waited, she snacked on some edamame ($5). This was nicely salted and well-cooked, but $5 was wayyyy too high for a bowl of beans. This ain’t Manhattan, fellas.

Speaking of "too high," check out my $13.95 Spicy Tuna Tartare:
Aside from the price, I liked this. The tartar was fresh, and the mango, goat cheese and pumpkin seed oil went well together. The roe was a little overpowering, especially the large size that was used, but it by no means ruined the dish. Was it worth $13.95? Nooooooo.

Danielle got a Philadephia Roll ($6)—Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese:
I rarely get Philly Rolls, and I forget how much I like them. This is one of the better Phillies I’ve had. (The menu also very clearly and thoughtfully marks “cooked” rolls for customers squeamish about raw items.)

We also shared Duck Dumplings (steamed) ($9):
A welcome surprise to see duck as an option for dumplings—usually, it’s pork or vegetable. The meat was quite tender and juicy. I would order these again.

For entrees, Danielle ordered the Chicken Pad Thai ($9.95)
A moderately-priced option, but underseasoned, and none of that terrific gumminess you want when you order pad thai noodles. Passable, but by no means memorable.

I ordered the Duck Fajitas Asian Style ($16.00)
I really liked the sound of this dish, like there would be a lot of interesting, exciting fusing going on. The duck was served with shiitake mushrooms, chives and scallions, and the pancake wraps were similar to spring roll wrappers. For the most part, this dish worked. Again, the duck was very tender, the mushrooms meaty. I added rice into the pancake wrap, which helped balance the soy sauce/ saltiness, which was a little heavy. But this was enjoyable. And clever. More like an Asian burrito really, when I added the rice.

For dessert, it was mochi ice cream in both red bean and green tea flavors.
In Japan, mochi is traditionally a glutinous rice exterior with a sweet, red bean filling. Here, the filling was replaced with the flavored ice cream. I thought this was a wonderful idea—it’s the first time I’ve had mochi (one of my favorite snacks) paired with ice cream instead of bean, and by golly, I liked it. You betcha I would order this again.

Fusion may not always be my thing, but scattered throughout the pages and pages of Oishii’s menu, are some generally interesting-sounding dishes like Thai Coconut Curry Casserole, Indian Tuna (lightly fried ahi tuna with masala dressing), Yellowtail Jalapeno, and Pumpkin Soup; not to mention the plethora of Special Rolls available. The duck dishes really worked on the night of our visit, and aside from the ever-present servers, the setting is pleasing and modern.

Oishii Asian Fusion
176 North Bedford Road
Mt. Kisco, NY.
(914) 666-2348

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