Back in Singapore, it was pretty tough to find good fusion Asian food, probably because there's just so much good, actual Asian food around.
But that's not to say there isn't appeal in fusion food, just that I've never really tried a restaurant that got it right yet. A friend of mine introduced me to Lantern (down Franklin Street as well - and I went the day right after I visited Elaine's on Franklin). It was a pretty crowded night, and the bar area was full as well. Not that I wanted to sit in there. It has a nice ambience, but it way too packed and noisy for my tastes. And I was starving, so we went out to sit in the patio, since the weather has been favourable for December as well. The patio is gorgeous - there are a few individual tables, but the highlight is a long, huge wood communal table in the centre, with a few hanging lights that would probably make for a great party of 10.
The food was great - some parts were a bit of a miss, but in general I was really impressed and I'm already itching to go back, especially since their dumplings are apparently good (a weakness of mine), and because my friend has been raving about their green tea rice (?? I'm lost too) which is apparently making a come back to the menu in Spring.
Grass-fed Red Poll beef sashimi - 7-spice, sea urchin, kumquats
Lantern charcuterie - pork terrine, crispy rillettes, air dried Red Poll beef, Chicken Bridge Bakery bolillo, local pickles
The beef sashimi was great. I don't know what else to say, because I'm actually writing this post two months later and it's a bit hard to recall the specifics of the flavor. I went back last week though, and it wasn't on the menu, which was a pity. Charcuterie plate was decent - some of the meats were a bit too dry for my tastes, especially when you compare it to crispy rilette - coated with bread crumbs and fried so all the delicious meat juice comes right out.
Tea and spice smoked Poulet Rouge NC chicken - yang chow pork & shrimp fried rice, local braised greens, housemade XO
Juicy, tender, a very decently sized serving. The fried rice was slightly more disappointing (a bit dry and tasteless) and the sauce not entirely to my palate, but honestly, the focus was always the chicken anyway.
Warm native persimmon pudding - candied kumquats, soft cream, local pecans
Hot chocolate cake - pecan brittle ice cream
Nothing special. Plenty of other better options for dessert on Franklin Street if you're craving something sweet to top off your night. (Insomnia Cookies? Why doesn't Durham have one?)
423 West Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27516