Asia de Cuba will always hold a special place in my heart. As a very poorly paid assistant I moved to London to work in the “fashion” industry. This mainly consisted of me raising Purchase Orders and working through my lunch break. However, every now and again my favourite supplier would take the team out for a special dinner that made all of that worthwhile.
Asia de Cuba was one of those very first places we dined at – if you’re reading this, thanks Desi!
Fast forward a good few years and I was delighted to be invited back to try out Asia de Cuba which has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment. More on this later.
Part of this included brand new Cuban chef Luis Pous coming on board who aims to create an Asian influenced menu to reflect how Cubans would be eating had they had access to the range of global ingredients now available to the rest of the world. No mean feat!
However, the extensive menu didn’t disappoint. Heavily featuring fresh and raw seafood, as well as vibrant salads, these are dishes to be shared with the table.
Using red snapper in place of the more expected seabass in the ceviche was fresh and punchy – we loved the crisped plantain to offset the Thai chilli and lime.
Shrimp churros looked like cigars (an unintentional nod to Cuba perhaps?) & were filled with a piping hot fishy mixture which begged to be dipped in the thai coconut curry sauce.
A huge hunk of Cuban style slow roasted pork was served with the crispiest of crackling. Blackened cod flaked over a beautiful green avocado purée.
The dishes kept on coming and none hit a bum note.
New desserts include the grown up Tres Leches de Chocolate with Chocolate Szechuan Peppercorn Ice-cream.
99% of the dishes are completely new but they had to keep those doughnuts as a comforting reminder of the past, dip them into caramel while you reminisce.
I hadn’t visited the bar before so can’t say how that’s changed but I LOVED it. Super sophisticated without being pretentious. This is the kind of bar you go to for incredibly well made cocktails in a super cosy, discrete and calm atmosphere where you can actually chat with your companion. Who doesn’t want that?
I can’t say the refurbishment jumped out at me. Sure it’s less “white” and the big round tables have gone but the bookshelf pillars remain and dominate the room (again, I like this, it’s memorable and stays with you).
It doesn’t matter though, if that’s what it took to get people talking about Asia de Cuba again then it was a job well done.
Food imagery by Evan Sung.