Vietnamese and Cajun styles of cooking pair naturally because they share a common influence in French cuisine, said Kim Nguyen, who opened Cajun Fuze in February 2015 to share her unique spin on seafood.
Lobster and other seafood are boiled with seasonings and are spiced according to preference.[/caption]
“It really matches well when you think about it,” Nguyen said of the two cooking styles. “The French dominated for years [in Vietnam], and we have adopted French cooking. If we have anything in common [with Cajun cooking] it’s the French influence.”
Vietnamese flavors in Cajun Fuze’s boiled seafood dishes include garlic butter and seasonings like Thai basil and citrus fruits such as orange and lemon.
Celery, onion and bell pepper—the foundation of many Cajun dishes—along with garlic, are also found in the cuisine of Vietnam.
The restaurant gives customers a choice of preparation styles and levels of spiciness for boiled seafood including crawfish, lobster and shrimp.
Crawfish are delivered fresh by truck from Louisiana every day and are soaked in water seasoned with Cajun spices to give them extra flavor. This is most noticeable to customers who eat the entire crawfish—including the meat in the head—as the flavors are infused throughout the entire crustacean, Nguyen said.
“We boil it the way people do in Louisiana, we don’t just throw the seasoning on top,” she said.
Also offered are blue crabs from the Gulf of Mexico and Dungeness crabs, which are eaten mainly for meat in the body of the crab, while only the legs of snow crabs and king crabs from Canada are eaten.
The restaurant also offers a variety of fried seafood, po’boy sandwiches with Cajun fries, two kinds of gumbo, chicken wings and several specialty items like turkey neck.
Another fusion specialty is oyster nachos ($9.95). The dish combines Asian and Tex-Mex influences, with fried wontons, fried oysters, spicy aioli and pico de gallo.
Several types of crab are available at market prices, including king crab and snow crab legs.[/caption]
The restaurant recently introduced a seafood noodle soup that is similar to the traditional Vietnamese soup pho but includes crawfish, fishcakes, shrimp, calamari and quail eggs.
Nguyen decided to make Cajun Fuze a seasonal restaurant after its first year, so that it is open during the peak crawfish months from December to Labor Day every year.
“For whatever reason, people don’t eat as much crawfish after July 4,” Nguyen said. “People enjoy it more when it is special.”
3702 FM 1960 W., Houston
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 2-10 p.m., Sat. noon-10 p.m., Sun. noon-9 p.m. (December through Labor Day)