Leipzig, Munich, Düsseldorf – and various international locations in between. Kim Cuong Phan has cooked in many Asian restaurants. He started as a student, always curiously observing how others were doing it, and worked with professionals in the kitchen. ‘A bit like going from dishwasher to restaurant owner,’ says the 33-year-old. After all, Phan also trained as a sushi master. ‘I had already been preparing sushi for years, but it was still great to learn the basic theory, technical terms and special know-how in handling fish.’
Fun fact: Sushi was once cheap fast food
Nowadays, sushi is an expensive, on-trend food. However, it used to be a very cheap quick snack for on the go, for example during a theatre interval or simply eaten with the hands on a long trip.
High class instead of street food
He opened King Fusion in Düsseldorf 4 years ago with his best friend Longao Hu. Originally, it was supposed to be a street food restaurant. ‘But during the renovation we realised that our calculation didn’t really work. That’s why we switched to our high-class food restaurant concept,’ explains Phan.
For the two restaurateurs, high class means fresh authentic ingredients for a casual blend of modern Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine, because that’s where their family roots lie. King Fusion serves a wild mix of food cultures featuring lobster rolls, hash browns made of prawns, sweet potatoes, coconut and coriander, and matcha tiramisu. The dishes are also served in a relaxed tapas style. There is no traditional menu. The two restaurateurs draw inspiration for their cuisine by going out to eat together. ‘Düsseldorf has a large Asian community. But often the good ideas come to us while we’re cooking. If I like two dishes, I try to fuse them in a new way.’
Modern diversity in fusion cuisine
The team at King Fusion has a family feel. Kim Cuong Phan and Longao Hu not only work together, but also spend their free time together. Phan tends to look after the guests, while Hu does the bookkeeping and merchandise management. The two prefer to do their shopping locally – in various Asian markets and regularly in the METRO market. To save time, however, they now also have food deliveries. ‘As a chef, I think it’s very important to do my own shopping from time to time. That inspires new dishes.’ King Fusion first tests these on the frequently changing lunch menu. If the guests love it, the creation makes it onto the dinner menu. ‘Sometimes guests are caught by surprise and ask why we don’t cook authentic Asian food here. Our answer is that King Fusion stands for modern diversity – just as Longao and I do.’
Sushi drink tip:
Traditionally sushi is accompanied by green tea, especially ‘Sencha’. But a cool beer also pairs well with it. The rice wine sake is usually drunk after the meal and is generally served lukewarm.
The signature dish at King Fusion
Sushi Salmon Aburi is a sushi roll with deep-fried prawns wrapped in salmon, flambéed and served with truffle-avocado cream.