Fusion 9th’s Noodle Soups are Bowls of Con-fusion

There was some unhappy rhetoric in the comments of our review of Fusion 9th on the day that it opened. Not wanting to let the first-day blues of a botched order stand in the way of honest critique, I took advantage of the onset of a cold to get some noodle soup in order to blitz our good buddy Rhinovirus and settle the Fusion 9th question once and for all.

Initially my intention was to take one for the team and try their ramen. Knowing full well that Tabata lies barely three short blocks north, I figured it’d be worth a confirm/refute to our readers if it was any good. Fusion 9th did the work for us: ramen is no longer on the menu. Looks like it’s a solid refute, but the world may never know for sure.

Left: curry noodle soup, wide noodles, beef. Right: tom yum noodle soup, wide noodles, chicken. Usually a floating pool of red is a good thing, but that tom yum broth is a lot less cloudy than others I’ve had. I dunno.

The tom yum is SPICY. I mean, we’re talking sudden blast of extra-hot chili oil spicy. But that’s okay, because it’s a given that Thai food’s spice is balanced by flavor, right? Nooooope. As the rice noodles fell right the hell apart from the too-narrow chopsticks and the underdone-and-too-cool-from-transport-to-hold-together noodles, the soup turned into an $8.95 atrocity that made me realize five minutes in that I simply did not want to finish eating it.

Beneath the spiciness of the broth is… nothing. It’s not flavorful, it doesn’t have anything to balance it out. No salt, no tart, nothing. Did galangal even come near this stuff? Ginger? Garlic? In the words of a great philosopher, oh, come ON!! Pepper flakes throughout this broth render a flavor of heat that combines with its thermal heat to pretty much burn the crap out of your esophagus, and not the fun way.

The vegetables are perfectly done – tender but still with a good bite to them – but have no contribution to the rest of the soup. Hell, even the chicken tastes like it was just boiled in water before being stirred into the soup. Bland white meat that’s thinly sliced, but serves only to deliver more red pepper flakes onto your tongue. A close-up on the flakes made ‘em look like basic old chiles de arbol, and they sure as hell don’t burn like Thai bird chiles. What a spicy mess this was.

The curry beef noodle soup ($8.95) was better solely on the basis of flavor, but I seriously think this was a case of the memo being gotten wrong. It tasted too much like Indian curry and not enough like Thai. I’ve had Malaysian dishes that were closer in curryness to Indian spices but this was too damn close to Fairway Market curry powder cooked in with the soup. As with my wide noodles, a noodly mass of broken, slippery noodles awaited as we mixed the two together. There was no uniqueness to the broth, and it needed some salt. It needed more cilantro than what was just apparently for garnish, and while it had big chunks of veggies to balance out the contents, it still failed the flavor test.

Once is happenstance, twice is enemy action, three times is incompetence on the part of the defense. After a tom yum that had no yum to it and curry noodle soup that was basically curry and stuff in it cooked to temperature, and noodles that suffered constant structural failure, it’s time to write off Fusion 9th. If there’s any hidden secrets to this place, it’ll take a lot of trips to find ‘em – and it’s not worth spending your money on those trips when great noodle soups are just a block or two away or quickly delivered, and the ramen king of the area still reigns securely too.

The + (What only the absolute diehard noodle soup fans would say):

  • Piping hot and no skimping on the veggies, nice.
  • Big ol’ morasses of noodles!
  • Spicy, nice and hot, good for the winter.

The – (What the fusion skeptics would say):

  • Absolutely overspiced flavorless dreck.
  • Tabata’s prices are the same and the food is better.
  • The ingredients contribute nothing but themselves. Such a wasted opportunity.

Fusion 9th, 480 9th Ave (Between 36th and 37th)

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