Monday, April 23, 2012

Revisiting Asia de Cuba (West Hollywood)

I remembered Asia de Cuba as an early date place, with its view of West Hollywood and its lobster mashed potatoes and plantain fried rice. Eons ago. I haven't been back, what's with all the new restaurants in town to try, and the restaurant is pretty expensive (especially with $12 valet). It's one of those "seen and be seen" places. I was recently invited for a tasting, as the menu had changed quite a bit with the arrival of the new chef, though signature dishes still remain.

There is now a whole ceviche section, served with plantain chips and toasted sesame tapioca chips:
Black grouper, sevilla orange, aji amarillo, yuzu and horseradish

Photo courtesy of Asia de Cuba
Wild salmon and salted avocado helado, spicy coconut milk, bird's eye pepper and black lava salt ($7)
The avocado helado (that's ice cream for you) was a cool addition to the dish in both sense of the word.
I liked the fresh ceviche, strongly flavored but not too spicy, and the table all enjoyed the toasted sesame chips.

Continuing on: Spicy hamachi and plantain threads, key lime, and shallot, shiso ($17)

Shrimp, snapper, and "confit" watermelon, Vietnamese red chili and jalapeno, shaved coconut ($7)

The food at Asia de Cuba is pretty expensive, but you can actually drink for a reasonable price. Well, the single serving cocktails are on the pricier side (but comparable to other bars) at $14. Some of the ones I enjoyed were the Hemingway Thyme (aged rum, lime, maraschino, cane syrup, grapefruit twist, thyme foam) and Chili Passion Caipirinha (cachaca, muddled lime, sugar, passion fruit puree, dash of sriracha)

But order one of their cocktails for two (that are actually big enough for at least three) or punch for the table and get more booze for your money. There are two options for cocktails for two:
Fiesta Cocktail ($22, for two): white rum, cognac, Cointreau, apricot liqueur, fresh lime juice, pineapple juice, pom syrup and the Cuban Missile ($24): brown rum, aged rum, white rum, honey rum, Cherry Heering, Angostura bitters, orange juice, lemon juice.

If you like guava juice, you'd enjoy Guava Punch for the table as much as I did: white rum, dark rum, Creme de Peche, fresh lime, guava juice ($35 for 3-5, $59 for 6-8).

Smoked Salmon on Crispy Spring Onion Pancake, reposado tequila, lime and green peppercorn, sprout salad with agave kewpie dressing ($16)

One of our favorites of the night was the Pan Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops, sweet sour plantains, habanero con crema ($16)
The scallops were seared just right, but it was the novel combination with plantains that was particularly notable.

Tunapica, tuna tartara picadillo-style on wonton crisps, Spanish olives, black currants, almonds, and coconut, soy-lime vinaigrette ($17)
Tuna tartar on wonton crisps is a rather "old" dish now, but this had been a signature dish at Asia de Cuba for quite some time.

Calamari salad "Asia de Cuba" - crispy calamari, chayote, hearts of palm, banana, cashews, chicory and radicchio, sesame orange dressing ($17)
Calamari Salad
We all have one or two of those friends who always order calamari whenever they see it on the menu. Well, here at least it's more interesting and healthier. Calamari, banana, and lettuce? It actually worked.

Crispy Octopus Ajillo, caramelized garlic, sake pickled lychee ($15)
Alright, maybe novel fruit+protein combinations is sort of a theme here, but again I was pleasantly surprised by how the sweet and refreshing lychee pieces add to the chewy octopus.

Char Sui Beef Short Ribs, congre tostones, chili orange salsa ($36)
Short Ribs
I had this dish years ago and the short ribs were as tender as I remembered, although $36 for a short rib entree is by no means cheap.

We had a fun dessert platter with fresh, warm cookies and a cup of thick hot chocolate.
Cookies and Chocolate

Opera Cake
.. followed by a giant Opera cake. I remembered the desserts at Asia de Cuba as being huge, and they still are! Don't fill up too much on the savory stuff, this one cake can probably feed three.

OK, so I still think Asia de Cuba is a rather expensive place to dine, but sometimes you need to impress someone with a scene and a view. On those occasions, it's good to have one place like Asia de Cuba that actually has solid food. Get them a cocktail "for two" also, and they'd leave extra happy.

PS. I didn't have them at this tasting, but if memory serves me right, you should try their lobster mashed potatoes and plantain fried rice.

Asia de Cuba
8440 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 848-6000
Asia de Cuba on Urbanspoon


Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital