Thursday, October 30, 2008


''No Junk Fusion,'' proclaims a sign at the weedy curbside of a forlorn stretch of Route 23 in Little Falls. A protest against radioactive waste? No; it turns out to be a restaurant's credo.The restaurant is Tomo's Cuisine, and the credo is Tomo's, too -- Tomonori Tanaka, that is, the chef, owner and guiding spirit behind this bite-sized year-old restaurant. Fusion, of course, is the reigning concept in upmarket Japanese cuisine, popularized by the celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa and 10,000 imitators: the idea that traditional ingredients and techniques can be elevated and transformed by fusing them with those of other cultures. Mr. Tanaka wants no part of it. In a telephone interview recently, I told him I had found his dishes remarkable in their simplicity and directness. He waved the compliment away. ''To me this is ordinary,'' he said. ''I didn't do anything new. That's why I hate fusion. We have so much good food in Japan, without touching anything.'' Mr. Tanaka, 44, who came to this country in his early 20s, has cooked in Japanese restaurants on both coasts -- much of that time in South Orange, at a previous Tomo's Cuisine. He closed that restaurant several years ago and took what he called a ''long vacation,'' returning to Japan for a bracing dose of the fusion-free real thing before reopening in Little Falls last November. " NY TIMES


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