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Slight confusion at Le Fusion
#01-7/8/9 The Pier at Robertson
80 Mohamed Sultan Rd
Tel: 6363 9966
Open Mon to Sat: 5pm to 1am; Sun: 4pm to 10pm
LÈ FUSION is nothing if not decisive about its food. It says so in the name - fusion. Not like chefs who usually pussyfoot around the dining industry's equivalent of the "F" word. After all, that's why they invented modern European cuisine, which is really just French food with lemongrass in it. But not Lè Fusion, which gleefully lè mangles food cultures the way some bloggers write English - but with a guilelessness that you don't quite know what to make of.
Lè Fusion is apparently the brainchild of a husband-and-wife team - "apparently" because we don't see them in the restaurant - who travel around the world. While some of us bring back fridge magnets, they bring back recipe ideas and a blueprint for their own restaurant. And that is how we end up in this kind of neo-Asian eatery in Robertson Quay, dressed up in a dramatic Chinoiserie-like mural across its walls, and a menu that's an eclectic mashup of French, Italian, Chinese and zichar.
Because it sits by the riverside and opens till late, it's got a casual, alfresco vibe to it, and you can have a nice, easy evening with drinks and a safe menu of bar bites that don't get more challenging than crispy pork belly mantou.
The main menu is a different ballgame, as you see the kitchen gamely trying to execute some of the couple's pretty far out ideas. Instead of serving you bread as some eateries do, you get a steamed flower-shaped bun with black vinegar on the side to dip it in. You can eat it or wonder what else you can do with it, but neither will give you much pleasure.
We fall back on what we think are safe choices - the ones marked with a chef's hat. One of them is the regal-sounding Imperial Double Boiled Soup (S$28) touted as a luxurious herbal broth served in an ornate Oriental tureen with regal aspirations. It looks ok in the picture but in reality would win the congeniality award in a pottery contest because it's quite ugly. The soup itself is a murky brew of meat, herbs and a baby abalone that is weak on its own but gets a second wind after you drizzle in the boozy Chinese wine.
Rougie Foie Gras (S$25) - named after its brand - arrives with some drama under a dome of smoke which, after dissipating, shows a pan-fried slab of liver that would have made enough of an impression with just the sauteed glutinous rice it comes with.
Unfortunately, it is surrounded by a sea of yellow, fruity cream sauce and a dollop of tobiko, puting it in a hostage situation with no good outcome.
The dish is the result of a torrent of ideas that badly need editing, and it's the same with the Crispy Pork Roulade (S$32) which deconstructs the Filipino lechon and winds up with more elements than the original. You have very acceptable pork crackling, thick dry hunks of pork, some kind of stuffing, deep fried mantou and shredded carrot salad for acidity - all of which may have been cooked at different times, and make no sense when put together.
The Tsingtao beer-marinated beef fillet ($42) reflects some interesting creative thinking, and isn't bad if you can get at the tender rare bits of meat in the middle. What it needs is fresher papadum and a better recipe for the cauliflower-potato mash.
When Lè Fusion holds back on the confusion, it shows it can do normal cooking pretty well. Braised abalone seafood rice (S$38) has an overly heavy seafood gravy, but we can taste the richness of the prawn stock and there are two big fat prawns and a small abalone in this luxury mui fan.
Ask for plenty of red chilli to cut through the richness and you've got a satisfying one dish meal. Or you can check out its Infamous Angus Beef Chinese Pasta (S$24) which is beef hor fun by any other name - again smothered in thick gravy slightly bitter from over-frying the black beans that flavour it, but there's a bit of wok hei detected in the kway teow huddled underneath.
To end off, there is Chendol (S$14) - a parfait of red beans, green worms, coconut jelly and surprise attap seeds, with a shot of Bailey's cream to sweeten the deal.
Lè Fusion can go either way - head down that rocky path of anything-goes fusion and hope for the best; or dial it down, streamline the flavours and build up a stronger narrative. It helps that the servers are very pleasant, and it's clear that the coronavirus isn't helping with its daily purchasing planning - so the lapses in cooking and ingredient quality are understandable at this time.
It's not a polished operation but we have to say that Lè Fusion does try. But soon, there will be no try. It must do.
WHAT OUR RATINGS MEAN
10: The ultimate dining experience
7-7.5: Good to very good
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