Few PR invites will get me to leave Dubai mid week for a trip to Abu Dhabi for a press preview event (unless there’s a helicopter transfer involved – sadly I’m still waiting for that invite LOL) – but this one did ! I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Asia de Cuba recently, describing themselves as Chic, sophisticated, glamorous, witty and above all, fun Asia de Cuba seemed like a great place to check out. Founded by Jeffrey Chodorow, the guy also behind China Grill, Asia de Cuba is located at Nation Riveria, at St Regis Corniche.

First impressions of Asia de Cuba are good. The restaurant/lounge has a great outdoor terrace as well as a large chic indoor space and the weather is perfect to enjoy the terrace for cocktails and nibbles before we move inside for a preview dinner.  Preview dinners are just that, no ordering from the menu, instead the restaurant send out the dishes they wish to showcase, mostly designed to give you an idea of the range of dishes available as well as to try some of their signature dishes.

 

Chef Luis Pous who was visiting from his New York base, was at the helm for the evening and he steered us through a hearty menu to showcase some of the dishes on the menu.  Chef Pous, born and raised in Cuba serves his interpretation of what Asian influenced Cuban food would have become today if Cuban chefs had been able to innovate and evolve their cuisine with the palate of global ingredients now available to the rest of the world.

The food is described as Modern Chino-Latino which is based on the Asian influence on Cuban food and culture from Havana’s Chinatown.   For me, it works perfectly and there were plenty of new and interesting dishes to try as the evening developed.

We sampled:

from the ceviche bar

  • CEVICHE DE Pescado thai chili, red onion, cilantro, plantains, 
  • SHRIMP CEVICHE shiso, aji amarillo, wasabi
  • MUSHROOM CEVICHE ginger, jalapeño, snow peas (v)
  • HAMACHI SASHIMI rocoto, miso, thai mango salad
  • tuna ‘pica’ crispy wontons

small plates

  • BLACK BEAN & PLANTAIN EMPANADA garlic sweet & sour sauce (v)
  • SHRIMP CHURROS sesame, coconut curry
  • CHICKEN CHICHARRONES ‘traditional’ or honey soy glaze
  • WAGYU ‘ROPA VIEJA’ EMPANADA rocoto sweet & sour sauce

salads

‘ICY HOT’ SHRIMP sesame, watermelon, napa cabbage salad 
CRISPY CALAMARI banana, cashews, chayote, fresh hearts of palm salad 
ROASTED DUCK pomegranate, blood orange, chinese cabbage, almonds

  • wok
    chili rubbed scallops black rice, cauliflower, japanese aioli 
    spicy lobster sofrito udon noodles, thai chili, gai choy 
    veal vaca frita maduros, yuca, mushrooms, chinese broccoli, mojo 
  • entrées
    seven spice roasted chicken  sweet plantain, black bean congri, manchego, shiitake 
    WAGYU strip STEAK crispy chipotle soy potatoes, fresh hearts of palm salad 
  • rocoto miso glazed BLACK COD  vegetable escabeche, avocado poblano purée

The menu is large, there’s a lot of choice and a lot of dishes sounded new and intriguing and are certainly worthy of a return trip.

In particular I loved the choice of ceviche available, the chilli rubbed scallops with black rice (and this from someone who doesn’t eat rice !), the black cod and the wagyu strip steak, as well as the Manchego Tart for dessert, ohhh and did I mention the churros ?? the shrimp churros?? It’s the first time I’ve had savoury churros and they were a hit and I will order those again and again.

PS : Asia de Cuba is coming to Dubai during 2015 – I for one can’t wait !!

http://www.asiadecuba.com/abu_dhabi

Disclaimer : I was a guest at the Press Preview of Asia de Cuba. All impressions are my own as are the images which were taken at the event (apologies for the images, I had to use flash for some of the images, which is not my preferred way of taking photos during the evening).

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