Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Lake: the village that’s in the way of other more interesting places. If you’ve passed through Lake you may have been too distracted by...

Lake: the village that’s in the way of other more interesting places.


If you’ve passed through Lake you may have been too distracted by its architectural hotchpotch to notice the disproportionate number of eateries – particularly takeways. Indian, chippy and Chinese restaurants all vie for attention on Lake’s short strip. Obviously deciding that the market isn’t quite saturated, summer 2011 saw the opening of Asia Fusion.

Nostalgia buffs may mourn the loss of gentlemen’s outfitters ‘Man About Lake’ and its sister shop ‘Lady of Lake’. There may be some readers who also remember when Lake had enough working men to warrant the magnificence of Lake Working Men’s Club. This spectacular construction, built in a 1970s brutalist style, looms triumphant at the rise of Sandown Road. Affiliated with the CIU (Club and Institute Union), it was the setting for many a wedding reception, darts match and meat raffle. Having sat forlornly vacant for a considerable time, the lights are again glittering as Asia Fusion has breathed life into this monolithic landmark.

As soon as its doors were opened, Asia Fusion prompted comment on Matt and Cat’s Facebook page, including some quite negative feedback. M&C try not to be swayed by others’ opinions and, keeping their collective mind open, they ventured to the Asia Fusion with some friends in tow. Would they concur with the naysayers?


Their first impressions (once they’d negotiated the skip and rubble in the car park and the temporary sign on the remnants of a demolished gatepost) was that Asia Fusion was a vast Chinese takeaway, with a profusion of menus and a waiting area for home diners. However, beyond the counter lay the restaurant and, as Matt and Cat’s party waited to be seated they had a good look around. Clearly some interior fittings of the Lake Working Men’s Club prevailed: huge green leather banquettes lined the walls and the bar was presumably a throw-back to the days of the ‘gallon of whisky raffle’. Although M&C were half expecting other Asian cuisine, maybe Indian and Thai food, to be on offer, it wasn’t. What the ‘Fusion’ in the name means was not clear – unless it means the fusion of a Chinese restaurant with a working men’s club.

There was a wall lined with bains-marie, in which the food was available freely to the diners. If they hadn’t already been expecting it, Matt and Cat would have worked out that this was no ordinary restaurant but a buffet, in the style of Portsmouth’s popular Water Margin. Gunwharf’s Chinese canteen has a hint of school dinners about it; a vast hall with the constant clatter of cutlery and scraping of chairs as diners make multiple visits to the food counters. When they visited that restaurant last year Matt enjoyed the all-you-can-eat experience of the Water Margin, but Cat was dissatisfied with the limited range of cheap food there. How would Asia Fusion compare?


One of the complaints from Matt and Cat readers about Asia Fusion was the automatic addition of ten percent service charge to the bill – surely a paradox in a serve-yourself venue? However, throughout their meal, Matt and Cat’s group was very well-attended: the drinks order was taken on arrival and the waitress patiently explained how the buffet system worked, even adding that dirty plates should be left to one side (where they were immediately cleared by the staff) and any subsequent visits to the bains-marie should be made with fresh crockery. What’s more, nobody could be in any doubt about the 10% surcharge – a sign is on every table to indicate it, and the waitress even mentioned it in her welcoming introduction. Nonetheless Matt and Cat can’t help thinking that Asia Fusion have made a tactical error here. In London this may be standard practice, but on the Island it is not, nor should it be. It gives diners a disagreeable first impression and makes reviewers drone on about prices when really they should be talking about the food. Surely the answer is to put the prices up 10%? Or have all the other Island restaurateurs failed to understand the benefits of the mandatory 10% tax somewhere?

Jamie Oliver himself could not have done this better
Battered pineapple

The buffet itself was smaller that the industrial catering of Water Margin, where the ‘pile it high’ philosophy was a good model with such a colossal turnover of food. The joy of Asia Fusion was that its smaller serving dishes were constantly replenished. Oriental food benefits from being freshly cooked and its edibleness depletes with every minute it sweats it out under hot lamps. There were no concerns about diminishing quality at Asia Fusion; in fact, at one point, Matt and Cat had food cooked fresh and delivered directly to their table – but that comes later in the story.

Once the drinks and instructions had been dispensed, Matt and Cat were introduced to the buffet which was handily arranged in starters, mains and pud. Cat’s a big fan of Hong Kong Express’s mixed hors d’oeuvres and with the Asia Fusion buffet she replicated this pick ‘n’ mix option, tonging prawn toast, chicken satay and crispy seaweed onto her plate.

Matt also enjoyed the free-range buffet-style as it meant not only could he choose what to have, but also how much. He and Cat returned to their table and ate their starters. The selection was delicious and fresh. Their friends had all chosen different combinations from the available starters; comparing the different dishes was an entertaining game. This really would be a great place for a big, mixed group of people who have different appetites and tastes – so long as some sort of Chinese is what they want.

Mat and Cat’s bill
2 x evening buffet (adult) £25.60
Service charge: £2.56
Total: 28.16

At this point in a review you’d normally expect some blow-by-blow account of the dishes, course by course. In this instance, you’ll have to do without that, as the buffet experience meant that everyone at the table had something different, at different times. Although each dish was carefully labelled the party didn’t pay much attention to the text. However, that doesn’t mean that the food was bland or samey. Far from it. Arriving with the expectation of disappointment, Matt and Cat were pleasantly surprised by the quality of their supper. The crispy-fried beef, for example, was fresh and not soggy; the tasty vegetables were perky not steamed to death, and the rice and noodles were not coagulated masses. On or two dishes were worth avoiding, such as the crab soup, which was starchy to the point of solidity. But as it was serve yourself, there was no reason not to taste first before taking a full portion; and if one item was not favoured plenty of other good-quality dishes were on offer. It was hardly fine dining, but it was good, wholesome food, and plenty of it. Or, for the modest eater, as little as you want.

Now it might be worth mentioning that M&C and their party arrived at about eight, and the place was pretty full, mostly with families (the buffet is cheaper for children, and also at lunchtimes). By the time the diners were finally finished with the buffet, pretty much everyone else had gone. It’s often that way with big family dining places. So it might be worth coming to the Asia Fusion for an earlier sitting rather than a late-night session. Despite this, the ever-attentive staff politely asked Matt and Cat’s party if they’d finished with the buffet before they stopped bringing out the fresh food. And dessert, which is cooked to order, was yet to come. A splendid fresh fruit salad was to hand in good summer dining style, and banana fritters. There was a moment of panic when the waitress had to confess that banana fritters were no longer available, but this was rapidly dispelled when she offered pineapple fritters instead. When they turned up, fresh from the pan, they came with not only a scoop of ice cream but a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands. An ironic homage to the 1970s building? No, it was the real thing. A brilliantly good finish – and all included in the price. Jamie Oliver himself could not have done this better.

So, an unexpectedly good experience. The service was well worth 10%, although Matt and Cat would have preferred to use their discretion and pay a tip voluntarily. The food, and the place in general, was all considerably better than the exterior of Lake Working Men’s Club might lead one to expect. It was clean, tidy, well-presented, and above all, the food was good value and above-average quality. By the numbers dining, it looked as though Lake had already caught on to this new set-up – Matt and Cat recommend you do the same.

  • Kathleen Jones says:

    I am sad to hear that this has now closed as we used to go here every Friday night for the Buffet.

  • Tony & Colette says:

    WE LOVE THIS PLACE…Great freshly cooked high quality food,very accommodating.. we always are changing a few dishes on the menu to suit our taste. Very nice family run business,when we was in there was a young group of ladies having a birthday meal,the owners came up to us to ask would we mind if they did karaoke to which of course we said no,the next thing the waitress came over and offered us complimentary drinks which was a lovely gesture.The food is great and they don’t skimp on the meat/prawns at all in the dishes,portions are very good and they cook extra of any dishes ya particularly like.
    The drinks were reasonably priced and they will provide a jug of water if you ask.all in all value for money and can’t wait to visit again ;o) BEST CHINESE IN OUR OPINION EVER!

  • Amy & scott says:

    Another great meal/service.
    I absolutely love this place, such a shame we goin back to Scotland Monday.
    Siobhan (hope that’s the correct spelling) is a lovely lady, very welcoming and friendly. The first time we went was a Monday so we ordered off the menu and enjoyed every bite, we returned back on friday with my parents ( who don’t often eat Chinese ) and they both enjoyed the meal. There was certian things that weren’t on the Buffet menu which i had tried on the mon and siobhan so kindly cooked the dishes for us. I dont know how anyone could knock this place, everything about Asian Fusion is amazing.
    Would love to keep in touch with siobhan. So if u see this….Keep in touch 😉 😉 😉 xxx

  • Jackie Thorley says:

    Great lunch. Food cooked to order. The starter platter was delicious, as was the rice,chow mein,ribs, duck and chicken dishes. Empty plates and dishes all round, no waste!
    Will be going back for sure.

  • Nathan Thorley says:

    Had a great meal here at a linch time dining and it was 10 times better than china town food in London.

  • Amy & scott says:

    Amazing food and amazing service. Staff very welcoming and friendly
    Would recommend everyone to go!!! Will be going back later this week

  • Islander says:

    Service charge has been removed for any of those wondering. Went here last Wednesday and although the buffet was not running we were entitled to unlimited food from a buffet menu (including a large selection of dishes not available normally on the buffet!!) which was all cooked fresh to order. Service was fantastic, as was the food. Overall wonderful experience, and no need to moan about “only two toffee bananas” since it is unlimited and you can just order more… have recommended to many!

  • Lottie says:

    The food in Asia Fusion is always fresh, AND is continuelly topped up through out the evening. In addition to this, the lunch time buffet, and weekday buffet has a menu, with loads of choice – including duck and seafood! And is freshly cooked to order and bought to the table! 🙂 I never understood why people complained about the price of the Buffet, as it’s unlimited order, with starters, mains and desserts! The chow mein is the best chow mein i’ve ever had too!
    The Managers are always polite! And will always go out their way to make the customers happy – even cooking dishes which aren’t on the buffet menu 🙂 My family love it there!
    The only negatives i would say about Asia Fusion is the decor – perhaps it could be more authentic with Chinese dragons and lanterns 🙂

  • tina youd says:

    on friday 25th aug my mum and dad took us to this restaurant to try the buffet as they havnt had chance to sample it yet,as we were visiting from Lancashire where we have tried many chinese buffet we found the staff to be very helpful and polite and the food was top shelf,also upon asking if they did hot and sour soup the manageress told us it wasnt popular but if we wanted it she would ask the chef to make us some fresh of which he did
    we left the premises very full and would recommend this lovely restaurant and cant wait till our return visit to the island.
    well done

  • KEITH says:

    My wife and I took our son and daughter and young ones to this beautiful restaurant on Friday evening we were greeted with a friendly smile from the manageress and lead to a table and instructed on how to serve yourself then greeted by a very pretty smile from a young lady who helped us with the young ones took our order and looked after us through out the evening although we asked for something that was not on the table they went out of their way to arrange our request the food on the service was hot and fresh very tasty with a large selection we will be returning again with out a doubt

  • Stuart says:

    I eat there a couple times the food is nice,
    but the manager was very, very rude to us, she moaned about the amount food we left.
    So now I take trade else were.

  • Daniel Haynes says:

    We went to the Asia Fusion on Monday 2nd July 2012 for a birthday celebration meal for my friend. It was the Buffet Menu which was ok,Food was Great,Service was great and the place was recent been redone out.
    We also Tryed the Buffet on the 15th Of July which was great Again.Theres No service change no more,Ive also added this place to a Fan Page on facebook as i love love chinese food. This place really needs to be supported.

    Asia Fusion Lake,Isle of Wight, Fan page
    It was hard to try and find details for this place.

    Please give them a chance.


  • kj says:

    would point out to Kathleen Jones it is only the 25th you went 5 days early 🙂

  • Simon says:

    Just got out of the asia fusion and it was fantastic food and exallant customer service

  • Kathleen Jones says:

    I went to the Asia Fusion on wednesday 30th June 2012 for a birthday celebration meal for my friend. So there were 2 of us. We were taken to a table and told that we could order from the ‘Buffet Menu’ and it would be freshly cooked for us each dish would be enough for 2. We were the only ones there at this time 6pm in the evening. We were a bit confused and disappointed because there was no buffet, but we ordered some starter dishes and they came on a round dish with separations for each dish.
    The food was very nice. As the menu clearly said that it was unlimited we then ordered a few dishes (7) for our main course and the waitress commented that it was quite a few dishes and would we like her to bring some first and then the others to which we replied that we would like them all together. I said that we wanted to try them all and if there had been a Buffet we would have been able to do this anyway. She replied that they only do the buffet at weekends on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as in the week there were not enough diners coming in each day. Our main dishes came but they were much smaller than the usual dishes would be had we ordered from the A La Carte. We enjoyed the food though and it was very good in taste and presentation. We then ordered our desserts Toffee Banana and Ice Cream. We were disappointed that we only got 2 Toffee Bananas each. We also had 1 pot of Jasmine Tea for me and a coke for my friend. I had picked up a menu when we came in and it said that the Buffet was £12.60 each in the evening and £7.50 at lunch time. My friend noticed a board inside the restaurant and the Buffet price on that was £14.70, although it was not displayed in the front for everyone coming in. We waited for the bill and it was £31.50 being £28.10 for the Buffet and the rest for the drinks. I paid this bill and we left a tip of £2.00 but it was not until I was home that I realised that we had already been charged 10% on top of the Buffet price, and there were no notices to tell us this, there was nothing on the menu that stated this or on the small menu that I picked up to take with me, and the waitress never told us either. If we go again we will not be leaving a tip and will try the weekend instead for the real ‘Buffet’.

  • Gary says:

    Having read some of the other comments above I wonder if we went to the same restaurant?

    The atmosphere is more akin to a bus depot canteen than a restaurant but I could let that go if the food was impressive. It wasn’t.

    We paid £14.10 per head for the evening buffet and were disappointed with both the choice and quality. All the typical fried starter items such as chicken satay and wings were tough and leathery, There were five main courses, four chicken and the ubiquitous beef in black been plus rice, noodles and chips. No duck, no lamb and just one tray of prawns in chewy batter. The trays of sweet and sour and curry sauce had a skin on them.

    Any hope that dessert would cheer things up were quickly dashed when we discovered the choice was between a tepid bowl of fruit salad or a microscopic slice of chocolate gateau. No fritters, no toffee banana.

    Overall very disappointing and way behind what many mainland buffets offer for £14.

  • Gilly Jordan says:

    Visiting my friend on the Island last week, she suggested we visit her latest food discovery, Asia Fusion. We duly went there on Tuesday evening and received a warm welcome. The lady helping us, who I think must have been the proprietor, judging from her professionalism, advised that the help yourself buffet was not open, but we could have whatever we liked and as much as we liked, chosing from the menu.

    …would rank this as one of the best for service, quality and value.

    She also pointed out that this way there was more choice. We chose our dishes, and the arrival time was perfect, giving us enough time to digest between dishes without service being slow. We thoroughly enjoyed all the dishes, the only criticism being that the duck seemed a little tough, but everything seemed freshly cooked, hot and tasty. There was no question of penny pinching, as when we were done, we were gently encouraged to try a little more. Actually, we enjoyed it so much, that even though there is so much choice in that area, we both decided we would like to eat there again the following evening. This is where they really scored. When we arrived they asked if we would like the same seat, they not only remembered what each of us had had to drink, but also almost exactly what we had chosen the previous evening. I come from Brighton, where there are numerous eateries like this, but would rank this as one of the best for service, quality and value. I have no problem with 10 percent service, which is normal in most restaurants I visit (and which no one is obliged to pay if they feel dissatisfied) and actually gave a little extra. I joked with the proprietor that it was lucky I was going home tomorrow, as otherwise I would be there again tomorrow evening. I hope this business is the success it deserves to be.

  • Laura says:

    Been here for lunch twice now and it’s been great both times. Really accommodating and friendly staff who were not deterred by a group of us complete with pushchairs and children. As it was lunchtime they don’t put the food out, they ask what you would like as part of the all you can eat deal. We cheekily said ‘everything!’ and they then cooked fresh everything that would be included in the all you can eat buffet! The food was great and they didn’t skimp on the meat at all in the dishes. They cooked extra of any dishes we particularly liked and this was all included! The drinks were reasonable and they will provide a jug of water if you ask. I didn’t mind the 10% service charge because we were being served at our table, although I wouldn’t be so happy to pay it in the evening when you’re serving yourself. We’ll be going back!

  • tim from ventnor says:

    visited Asian Fusion on saturday night and i wasn’t very impressed. To be fair there were 15 of us on our table, and the restaurant was fairly busy when we got there.Howerever given the compulsory ten percent service charge the resulting dining experience was a disappointment at best. There were two birthdays in the party… one had finished his meal by the time the second was served his. many people were brought main dishes without their side orders- food got cold or was eaten unaccompanied by sides….
    the slight stress of people waiting for various parts of the meal to arrive meant that the entirely reasonable food was rather lost on us, and there were no attempts at apology from the mangement. shame, as at least one waitress was a ray of sunshine under difficult conditions.
    at the end i asked a lady why the food had taken up to 2 hours to arrive. she said they were busy with takeaways.
    i think they should check on their priorities!!
    oh yes, one friend tried the buffet and it was pretty lacklustre.

  • Bored with too much time on my hands says:

    walked past saturday lunchtime; looked empty

  • kj says:

    been packed the last two two times a walked past this week

  • marilyn says:

    My boyfriend and I went for a lunch time feast back in September – Read through the menu and discovered the 10% charge! – That was for us a first put off.
    We proceeded to the help yourself dishes in the Bain maries – being watched every move we made! Food not even hot – not tasty – and the drinks very expensive.
    We thought we would give it another true – so we ordered a takeaway which was very nice – much better than the restaurant? Spoke to soon! – told by a very rude delivery person that we were to far out to deliver next time! ok – so we spoke to the manager and everything changed – they decided to deliver again.
    Terrible mistake – we ordered duck curry got Chicken – tasted horrible – rice horrible – tasted like left overs! We will be going in to tell them and hope that they can rectify this problem. No sure if I want to give them our money to be honest.
    Its never busy now, so I don’t think this restaurant will last to long!

  • Jonathan says:

    My wife and I unexpectedly popped in on a wet and windy Monday evening, half expecting it to be closed, but there were already three tables occupied by other guests (more arrived later). Already fore-warned about the 10% service charge we knew what to expect, however, the young lad that looked after us was extremely pleasant, helpful and attentive so we had no qualms with that. The food was pretty standard fare for an all you can eat buffet and is what it is, I did get the impression though that they cooked smaller portions and topped up more often than I’m used to seeing in such establishments. We’re tempted to go back, perhaps on a busier night, and try the a la carte menu as there were some tasty looking dishes on there.

  • Lester says:

    Tried this after reading the review and comments. Thought the food was ok, not great, but the decor is simply too big, not many eaters and the place just was a large echoing area which was not inviting or intimate. Rather pay a little more and go to a restaurant like China China or Dragon Pearl. The compulsory % is wrong on small parties, especially in a self service buffet, this I am sure will put Islanders off, and it’s a long winter as we say on the IOW.

  • Sue says:

    Visited Asia Fusion last week ( party of 5 )..Overall..very very disappointed. Scruffy mess and rubbish all around the entrance and car park… I will mention the 10% charge , which, as a self service eatery is ridiculous. Very attentive staff..but to the point of being very annoying, when constantly pushing the ‘any more drinks’ line… at least 10 times throughout the hour or so we were there. Food was poor quality..luke warm and not any where near the variety of dishes we have enjoyed in many ( much better and cheaper ) chinese eat all you want places on the mainland. The chicken in bread crumbs in particular ( one of my fave dishes ) was hard and tasteless.When I phoned to make the reservation and asked what kind of dishes they offered..I was told ” a HUGE variety of dishes…including duck ( which was not available ) although most chinese buffets I have been to on the mainland always offered duck & pancakes in the eat all you want price of around £10.00 . I had enquired about desserts..I was told Toffee Apple..tofffee cream….lots of desserts. Both the toffee apple and toffee banana were rock hard and absolutely stone cold..just put on a small plate at the end of the heaters anywhere near…the apple and banana were mixed on the same plate, so my daughter in law ( who is alergic to apples ) could not even try them as they did not know which was which !!.. She requested ice cream..the waitress brought her out one very small scoop of cheap vanilla….
    The overall price of the meal plus one soft drink each PLUS the compulsory 10%..put our bill at about £85.00….A high price for such poor quality .When I think how much Good Quality food we could have had from our local take away…this place was hugely over priced and sub standard quality. Will not be returning and would not recommend.

  • DC says:

    We visited last night and it was packed, so be sure to book before you go!
    Looking around it is definately a good place for groups of all ages and families.
    We were very impressed with the quality of the food, everything was delicious and couldn’t fault a thing! Nothing had that glutenous taste that some chinese restaurants have. You can see the chefs cooking in the kitchen and anything that had run out was very quickly replenished. The waiters and waitresses were very attentive and helpful. Offering a buffett means it has wide appeal to anyone because you can choose what you want. This cost £12.80 pp plus the 10% service charge so is about £14 per person. We all felt this had been a good evening and well worth what we paid. Drinks also seemed reasonable.
    They could improve the decor a bit, it seems very plain and maybe a picture or two or mirrors would help. Also we thought lowering the lighting would be a good idea. Having said that we had a lovely evening and will definately be going back again!

  • Graeme Egerton says:

    We visited tonight for a Birthday Tea (or dinner if you’re posh. Which I ain’t) and it was absolutely one of the most pleasurable meals we have ever had. Not just “on the Island”, but ever. Simple food cooked well is a joy to find and I can only agree with all your good comments. Even as a veggie of thirty years plus I found there was more than enough on offer for me: a choice of chips, veggie spring rolls, egg fried rice, noodles, Chinese vegetables, seaweed and curry or sweet and sour sauce were all excellent and my companions commented on how tasty their Satay Chicken, Chicken Balls and other dishes were. Another plus point was that the buffet was constantly attended to and was never messy and, as you said, the food is fresh and constantly restocked. We were hugely impressed and are instant fans. The service was polite and plentiful but never, ever intrusive. Bill for two adults and one child with drinks (half a lager, a coke, pot of tea and a blackcurrant juice) was a quite excellent £43.50. We did not resent paying one single penny of it and those who moan about the 10% clearly don’t go out much or to anywhere half decent. If you go anywhere else for a Chinese, you’re mad.

  • Norfolk Nick says:

    We visited last week for lunch & were initially disappointed by the lack of choice, however the quality of the dishes on offer was excellent & thoroughly enjoyed by all.

    Staff were very attentive & polite, hence the 10% service charge was worth every penny.

    The owner advised that a second floor will soon be opening so that they can cater for even greater numbers as they have been turning business away in the evenings.

    Lets hope that the quality can be maintained once the number of covers increases.

  • kj says:

    I can only think the detractors have never been to such an establishment…For me these ‘buffets’ where a regular occurance in West London before moving here and for many years have wished for such an enterprise to start….Asian Fusion is comparable for quality and service with some of the many resteraunts like this and far better than some i have tried. Many of our friends have tried it too and loved it.

    I don’t mind the 10% service charge…its worth it

  • Sean says:

    Had the ‘eat all you can’ lunch at Asian Fusion in Lake. The food was good, in fact one of the best ‘eat all you can’ Chinese meals I have had, and I have had lots over the years and the things which impressed here were the trays are varied and packed with meat, sometime you have to play ‘hunt the chicken’ at some buffet restaurants! Also the dishes they were held in were not too deep so the food was being replaced often, meaning it was fresh and tasty.

    I liked the glass front so you can see the kitchen, and the desserts were freshly cooked to order (banana fritters), and some of the dishes on order like the salt and pepper chicken wings were really delicious and unusual for a buffet menu. I thought the drinks were reasonable £3.50 a pint and £1.80 a coke, however with the food being great, and at £7.50 for eat all you can lunch its outstanding value, the décor did feel like your sat in a men’s working club eating chinese, I was surprised no one was playing dominoes or crib. And they add 10% service charge, no matter how many in your party, ok not used to that for a meal for 2, and didn’t I just help myself to the food from the buffet?

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