Since opening last fall, Fusion Peruvian Restaurant and Bar located at 274 Main St. in West Orange has built a following and is quickly becoming well-known through word of mouth and reputation.
On a recent Saturday night, we visited the restaurant. Although it's a small dining room — only about 15 tables — the music and warmth made us feel as if we had just stepped off the plane and were dining in Lima or Callao.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated with statues and objets d’art along with bright colors and tapestries.
The menu includes something for everyone. We felt some of the appetizer portions could easily have been entrées since they were so filling and large.
Our appetizers included a strongly recommended ceviche (raw fish) platter ($12.95) with calamari, shrimp and scallops, as well as fried chicken wontons with plum dipping sauce ($4.95). A dollop of sweet potatoes was also included in the dish.
We also recommend the tamales ($3.95), six doughy crepes filled with either chicken or pork. The tamales were flaky and tasty and the chicken was well spiced and tender.
Since we wanted a complete taste of everything Fusion had to offer, we were encouraged to try the sopa de pollo (chicken soup, Peruvian style - $3.95). The bowl of soup arrived with huge chunks of white-meat chicken, vegetables and plenty of noodles. It was wonderfully seasoned with cilantro and lime and tasted unlike anything we'd ever tasted before.
With our appetites whetted, it was now on to the entrées.
Fusion Peruvian Restaurant and Bar does two things: It doesn't disappoint, and it doesn't skimp on portions.
We agreed to share our entrées and enjoyed a taste of just about everything the restaurant has to offer. We supplemented our portions with sides of black beans ($3.99) and extra plantains ($3.50) along with a house salad ($5.50) of chunks of cucumber, tomato and onion.
Our first entrée was the T-bone steak a lo pobre ($11.95), a juicy piece of steak sautéed with onions and tomatoes and spices. The meal also included a generous portion of lightly seasoned white rice with a fried egg on top and sugary sweet plantains.
For another entrée, we chose the lomo saltado ($10.95), a beautifully prepared and tasty house specialty dish featuring strips of sirloin steak marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and spices then stir-fried with red onions, parsley and tomatoes. The dish is served with homemade French fries and served over white rice.
We were excited to try the arroz verde cilantro ($8.95) and the dish did not disappoint. It featured a piece of barbecued chicken with rice seasoned with cilantro and mixed vegetables. The dark-meat chicken was juicy and delicious and was seasoned with a variety of spices to add to its flavor.
For the steak lover in your group, we recommend the Tacu Tacu ($12.95), a piece of strip steak served with white beans and rice. This dish may be prepared as a heavily spiced dish or not. We requested it be lightly seasoned and were not disappointed.
For our final dish, we chose the aji de gallina ($8.95), a medley of shredded chicken, potatoes and rice in a bright yellow cream sauce.
Had I known the cream sauce would've been so thick and plentiful, I would've asked our waiter to instruct the chef to give us less sauce. The dish itself was delicious as the cream sauce brought out the flavor of the chicken and also mixed very well with the rice.
For desserts, we chose two distinctly different items, a warm chocolate cake sprinkled with chocolate sauce and a rum-topped flan.
The chocolate cake practically melted in our mouths and was a sweet treat after our meal. The homemade whipped cream added just the right touch of flavoring to the dish.
The flan was creamy, smooth and delicious. The rum on the flan gave pushed an already wonderful dish over the top. We couldn't get enough of it.
Some other items to note about Fusion Peruvian Restaurant and Bar:
■ The restaurant does not have a parking lot and features only on-street metered parking. Meters do not have to be fed on Saturday or Sunday.
■ The restaurant features a variety of piped-in music, but offers karaoke on Friday nights. We did note, however, that the music is played loud and sometimes makes it hard to hear.
■ The bathrooms are easily accessible and are handicapped accessible.
■ The restaurant offers daily lunch specials and combo specials (both $6.95) from noon to 4 p.m. along with a combination special from 6-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. However, it does not have a take-out menu yet.
Fusion Peruvian Restaurant and Bar
247 Main St.
West Orange, New Jersey