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.
- The original comment has been removed
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.