The Fuse Box - Brand new Asian Fusion restaurant.
My girl took me to lunch at The Fuse Box in Dobie Mall. Today is the first day it was open - it is located where Cafe Matisse used to be. I was surprised at how much space there was in there. When it was a coffee joint it was pretty tight when crowded with a couch and tables and people milling around. The Fuse Box is very open and (though I hate to use the term) airy. Light green paint and natural wood and comfortable stools and John - the owner - cooks at the counter. It makes it for a relaxing atmosphere.
The food is excellent. I got the seared tuna bento and was amazed at the fact it was perfectly seared and cool in the middle. The daikon salad made me reconsider my stance on daikon. The dumplings were tasty though the sauce could have used a bit of punch. My girl got the chicken bento and I had a bite. It's something I would get in the future.
The only downside is the cost - $10 for a large bento box. It's not something I could afford to eat every day though I would if I could. However there are also salads and other dishes that look good for a lower price.
This is a great place - even better since it is next to my work -the owner is a really nice guy and a bad ass cook. Worth checking out the next time you are heading to the Dobie for a movie or dragging some out-of-towners around campus.
Now I just have to wait for payday to eat there again.
I just got back from Fuse Box, and I'm happy to assess that there's another walking-distance option for frustrated hounds around UT.
I left my office and made the trek down 21st a little after 11 a.m., and arrived at the space formerly inhabited by Café Matisse on the ground floor of Dobie Mall. The café has undergone quite a dramatic change since Matisse vacated, with the dirty white walls, mismatched lounge furniture and patchwork ceiling replaced by honey-tone wood counters and high modern stools. Gone, too, is the haphazard bustle of Matisse's primarily caffeine-driven business; Fuse Box is characterized by meticulous preparation and presentation.
After acclimating to the obvious physical and psychic changes and taking a moment to look over the menu, I settled on the Roasted Salmon Box and my partner chose the Seared Tuna Box (Large-$10, Small-$8).
The tuna was nicely seared with a rich red center, tasted extremely fresh and had a tender texture. The salmon had a nice roast glaze and flaky center, and tasted equally fresh and perfectly done. The preparation of these was nothing extraordinary, but the execution is above and beyond what one would expect in a location that generally caters to a student and university staff constituency.
Both dishes came with an array of accompaniments; the tuna with green beans and almond slivers, cantaloupe balls, cold cucumber salad and Japanese steamed dumplings, while the salmon was partnered with spicy shaved daikon, asparagus, cantaloupe balls and dumplings. Except for the dumplings, everything is steeped in a sesame soy which can get a little redundant, but the assortment of tastes helps to moderate that minor complaint. The steamed dumplings came out satiny and plump with a soft vegetarian filling. The asparagus and beans were well-prepared and tasty if not exactly memorable. The cold cucumber salad was good, though, again not extraordinary, but worked well in tandem with cantaloupe.
Overall, I'm just pleased with Fuse Box as an addition to the few cafes around UT that offer more than just empty sustenance. And I certainly wouldn't preclude it for dinner on my way to a movie at the Dobie or other event in the University area.
re: luxe rabbit
I don't know about the small boxes, but there was more than enough fare in the large box to fill me up, and I'm a notoriously heavy luncher. The portion of fish was about 4-5 ounces (approx.), and the accompaniments come in 3"x3" sections of the bento. My partner wasn't able to finish her meal. And in my original post, I failed to mention the serving of sticky rice that comes with the meal, so in tacking that on, you can see that it is pretty substantial.
I ate here today with a few friends. I got the large salmon box. I thought the salmon and melon balls were pretty good, but the rest of the stuff in the box (asparagus, gyoza, and avocado) I wouldn't call exceptional.
They did give us complimentary chocolate covered strawberries and blackberries at the end of our meal, which was nice.
I think another problem is being in such close proximity to the nail salon, you could definitely smell it while we were eating.
For ~$10 Japanese food around campus I'm going to have to stick with Sushi Niichi.
I stopped by Fuse Box today for lunch, while in search for something healthy and fresh. I opted for the Small Veggie Bento, as the description sounded rather appealing. Overall, the food was good but not phenomenal. The bento contained asparagus, tofu, veggie dumplings, and a goat cheese tomato with a side of rice. The asparagus was fresh and crispy but the sesame soy "sauce" which was one everything was a little much (if I go back I might see if I could get htis left off the veggies. The tofu was a nice large portion and overall good with an overall soft mellow texture; however, if you like your tofu fried and well done, it's not for you. This again had the sesame soy on it but was much better with the tofu. The dumplings were good but nothing stellar. They were similar to ones you get frozen at whole foods....and the saucs....MORE sesame soy. The goat cheese tomato was the best part though. A nice small tomato hollowed out and generously filled with goat cheese with a little olive oil. I could have eaten several.
Fuse box offers something rare in the immediate campus area, fast and healthy. Its hard to find much beyond "fried," unless you want to shell out for O's hit or miss, overpriced "cuisine" or a sandwich. I'll probably go back for that reason. But, if this were anywhere but on campus, it wouldn't be a regular spot for me. From other's descriptions, next time I'll try the fish....perhaps less sesame soy???
I must revise my earlier opinion on Fuse Box. I went back again today....again in search of healthy...and tried the Tuna Nicoise Salad as suggested here on the boards. This is easily my new favorite salad in the campus area. As others have emphasized everything was fresh and flavorful. The lemon vinagrette was the perfect compliment to the variety of flavors that comprised the salad. Potatoes and green beans were perfectly blanched and the hard boiled eggs were also perfectly prepared. The tuna was nicely seared with a rare center and not soaked in dressing. Cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives offered a nice acidic bite. And the mixed field greens were fresh and flavorful. I ate the whole thing without even noticing and didn't feel overly stuffed.
As I wrote last time, I've found it hard to find good tasty healthful fare around campus. I'll definitely put this salad into my usual rotation. The staff at Fuse Box is also super friendly.
Does anyone else have any suggestions for good salads in the campus area? No iceberg or crappy romaine need apply. I'm looking for something with a nice balance of greens and protein and hopefully something that isn't prepackaged. I'm limited to places I can reach on foot and get in and out in an hour or less.
I'm so glad someone posted about the FB. I've been going there often since it opened, as I'm obsessed with the grilled tofu dish. Most of the food on campus is depressing; with the exception of Clay Pit take-out, the occasional Burrito Factory tostada, and now fuse box, i can hardly bear any of the food around here. Sushi niichi is good, but too far from my building to get in and out in my lunch hour. But anyway, the grilled tofu at FB....Marinated and coated in sesame seeds, then lightly grilled and placed atop 3 warm roasted tomato slices, the tofu cake is then topped with sliced, cold avocado, a handful of baby field greens, and then the whole thing is drizzled in Ponzu dressing. It's topped off with a good grinding of fresh cracked black pepper. With a side of rice, this dish is filling, and there is plenty of extra dressing on the plate to dip the rice with your chopsticks. I am usually a fairly strict veg., but the salty bonito flavor of the sauce was enough to addict me. The waitstaff is friendly, and they often (not always) surprise you with a single homemade truffle or piece of chocolate dipped fruit in a ceramic ramekin after the meal. There's a decent selection of loose leaf teas also. If you are looking for a veg option around UT, I definitely recommend.