Saturday, January 03, 2009

Asia De Cuba (Manhattan) 09

We tried this unique Asian/Cuban fusion restaurant at 237 Madison (between 37th and 38th St) on the recommendation of friends and we were not disappointed. Attractively designed with an upstairs gallery

where diners look through an open atrium on to tables at the lower level.

Currently fashionable it was near full of largely contemporarily dressed early and middle aged not quite glitterati. They specialize in cocktails ($13-15), with a small international wine list, We drank Blue Cubans,

Cruzan pineapple, Blue Curacao and Pineapple juice and an Italian Pinot Grigio ($11). Food is served on large rectangular platters and it is all designed for sharing. Serves are large so our two appetizers and two mains was a good size meal. They have a $69 tasting menu which, strangely, has an extra dish for parties of four or more. The a la carte menu includes all the degustation items. We started with pan seared jumbo sea scallops ($29)

which were huge, served with sweet and sour plantains and a white corn sauce called habanero corn crema. Lightly seared they were succulent, sweet and I recommend them. From the other dozen or so choices we had Asian spiced pork spare ribs. They came with an extremely pleasing roast corn, black bean and avocado salad topped with lightly pickled onions. Plenty of meat on the ribs but the preparation made them taste more like tender beef. there were 14 mains, called entrees here, from which we started with tropical hoisin roasted duck ($39)sweet soy glaze ($22)
accompanied by Asian micro green salad, platano maduro, papaya salita and duck jus. A bit heavy handed with the hoisin but I thoroughly enjoyed the flavour. The miso cured Alaskan black cod ($38)

was outstanding. Served with Cuban black bean and edamame salad and tempura shisto peppers this large fillet was perfectly cooked. Layers of succulent cod separated from each other retaining a moistness and even texture with barely a hint of fibre. A great dish. Desserts were a shock. The coconut cake ($14)

with two very large scoops of ice cream as huge, certainly enough for two, but very dry whilst the banana split ($19)

was obscene. Big enough for three or four normal serves, lashings of cream, masses of ice cream chocolate and caramel sauce, sugar coated macadamia nuts, chocolate chip biscuits, and more plus the bananas, of course, all atop a large chocolate brownie. We didn't get near to finishing it.

Service was extremely helpful, since I had no idea about Cuban food, and very amiable with sound advice. The flavours were new to me, well worth trying, but they were heavy handed with the sauces which were to dominant at times. Score: 14.75/20

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