In a way, that’s why I tend to think of the Vietnamese Cajun food that has begun to thrive in Atlanta lately as almost the opposite of fusion. Both Vietnam and Louisiana are former French colonies with access to good water for fishing shellfish and low land for growing rice. In Vietnam, the French baguette became the perfect vehicle for the banh mi, a crispy sandwich loaded with a little bit of meat and pickled veggies and herbs. In Louisiana, that same bread evolved into the more tender loaf loaded with fried seafood and veggies. The similarities are so numerous, the qualities so complementary, that Viet Cajun food seems to require almost no fusing at all.
Atlantans have long flocked to Crawfish Shack Seafood (4337 Buford Highway, Atlanta. 404-329-1610, crawfishshackseafood.com), which sells much of the same menu you might find at a Cajun joint in Louisiana. When I first moved to Atlanta, I was thrilled to find a place that would sell me balls of fried boudin, a regional delicacy that I rarely come across except when visiting family in Lafayette. The boiled crawfish served at Crawfish Shack is as spicy as anything I've ever tasted in a backyard in Baton Rouge, but it also sports a bright, aromatic touch of lemongrass, the culinary contribution of the restaurant's Vietnamese owners.