Fusion Foods

The mouth-watering marriages of unexpected culinary pairings

Colliding two unrelated ingredients takes guts – and sometimes a little blind faith. When it’s not ending in complete and abject failure (remember Swedish Fish Oreos?), the results can be heavenly (hello, pancake cheese curds). This lineup of unlikely culinary duos proves that some ingredients are just better together.

Curry burrito 

Sabino’s Latin & Asian Bistro, Neenah

P DINE Sabinos

Few things hit the spot like a burrito. But smother it in curry and you may just swear off regular burritos for good. Case in point: the curry burrito at Sabino’s Latin & Asian Bistro. “It seriously is the most popular thing on the menu,” says Mari Ortiz, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Emilio Sabino, and his brothers, Alfonso and Joaquin. When the foursome took ownership of the restaurant (formerly Cy’s Asian Bistro) last August, they decided to retain some of Cy’s most beloved Asian dishes while infusing their own Latin staples. “[Emilio and his brothers] are from Oaxaca, Mexico, so we wanted to add some dishes from there and some Brazilian and Cuban dishes too,” says Ortiz, the mastermind behind the curry burrito. “We definitely wanted a dish that was a mixture of Cy’s and ours.” The Mexican-style burrito is stuffed with steak or chicken, rice, queso fresco, onions and cilantro and is drizzled with your choice of curry – red, green, sweet or fusion, which is a mix of red and sweet curry. It’s finished off with more queso fresco and sliced avocado.


Tempest Coffee Collective, Appleton 


Submitted by Tempest Coffee Collective.

Sometimes a food mashup is so perfect, it makes you wonder how you ever enjoyed the individual ingredients any other way. This can be said of the “s’moretado,” a concoction dreamed up by the minds at Tempest Coffee Collective. Like something straight out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, the s’moretado is the brilliant combination of the campfire staple and a cortado (a Spanish beverage, traditionally equal parts espresso and warm milk). “In our industry, a s’mores latte is [a] popular summertime drink. We wanted to offer a fun and creative way to enjoy a s’more-inspired beverage with our own version,” co-owner Stephan Witchell says. The s’moretado is a combination of milk, chocolate and espresso, but what really makes it special is the garnish – a roasted marshmallow skewer and chocolate-covered graham crackers on the side. “[Customers] seem to enjoy the dynamic of eating the marshmallow and dipping the graham in the beverage,” Witchell says. “And It’s visually appealing, because the experience is unique.”

Asian tacos

Bowl Ninety-One, Appleton 


Via Bowl Ninety-One on Facebook.

“I love Mexican tacos. I could eat them every day,” says Yee Lee Vue, owner of Appleton’s newest ramen shop, Bowl Ninety-One, set to open this month. Vue’s affinity for Mexican fare inspired her to combine everything she loves about tacos with the Asian flavors she serves at her restaurants, which also includes City Cafe. “I started playing around with ingredients and came up with our own version [of tacos],” she says. While Bowl Ninety-One focuses on ramen, pho and curry noodle bowls, patrons can also score some of Vue’s popular Asian-style tacos. Vue says the lemongrass chicken taco is a fan favorite. It starts with a corn tortilla loaded with diced chicken that has been marinated overnight in lemongrass, shallots, garlic, olive oil and fish sauce. The chicken is topped with pickled carrots and daikon and then garnished with cilantro, diced shallots and a drizzle of spicy garlic mayo. Another taco highlights Indonesian flavors with ingredients like braised pork, coconut milk and Thai tomato salsa. Got a late-night craving? Bowl Ninety-One is open until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Falafel Arabe 

Superior Shawarma, Appleton 

P DINE Falafel

If you’ve never eaten falafel (deep-fried patties made from ground chickpeas), the best way to test the waters may be in pizza form. The falafel arabe at Superior Shawarma takes the flavors and ingredients of a traditional falafel pita and presents it in the convenient portal that is a pizza. Owner and Chef Khalil Thiab, who runs Superior Shawarma with his father, Samih, says he first made this recipe as a chef in Syria where it originated more than 30 years ago. For the popular dish, a piece of Arabic bread becomes the “crust.” Tahini, which is a paste made from ground sesame seeds, acts as the sauce. Next comes the falafel, romaine lettuce, cabbage, tomato and cucumber as the “toppings.” It’s finished with another piece of bread on top, then pressed and grilled. The whole thing is cut into slices just like your favorite pizza pie. This presentation is as equally delicious as the standard, but gets points for ease of eating – the toppings stay conveniently tucked between the bread.

Pancake cheese curds 

The Source Public House, Menasha


Chef Drew Steinke says the kitchen staff at The Source Public House developed the recipe for sweet and savory pancake cheese curds almost by accident. “Before I started working here, the cooks made them kind of just messing around,” he says. “I tried them and put them on my new menu.” The cooks’ playful experimentation is our gain, and it all starts with fresh cheese curds from Vern’s Cheese in Chilton. Instead of the traditional tempura batter, the curds get coated in buttermilk pancake batter. Steinke says this preparation takes a little longer to cook than the average cheese curd, but when they are ready the curds are sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a side of maple syrup from Drewry Farms in Sheboygan County. “It’s that sweet and salty combo that people really like,” Steinke says. “To me, it tastes like a cheese-filled funnel cake.” The pancake cheese curds are available only during brunch from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. on Sundays. And what better way to kick off Sunday Funday?

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