Once featured on HBO’s Sex and the City at the Morgans Hotel in the Murray Hill neighborhood, owner Jeffrey Chodorow and executive chef Luis Pous reopened its doors to Asia de Cuba in Manhattan’s Noho district.
Chef Pous’ vision of Asia de Cuba is essentially what Asian-influenced Cuban food would taste like, hence you will find the dishes here to be innovative.
The restaurant’s interior is a contemporary space that evokes a chic, sophisticated and an intimate setting.
I loved the bar area with all the uplighting.
* NOTE: I visited Asia de Cuba during their “Chef’s Hour Tasting,” thus the portion size on a few items below are smaller than usual.
El Cristiano: Essentially a margarita prepared with Espolon Tequila, lime, celery, honey, jalapeno, pimenton, salt and a large ice cube. A well-made cocktail that tasted a little like bacon with a hint of spice.
Mango Mojito: Mango mojito made with rum, mango juice, lime, sugarcane juice, mint and pebble ice. The mojito was succulent and not too sweet.
Snapper: The snapper in combination with Thai chili, red onion and cilantro was presented in a pasta bowl with plantain chips over the top. The snapper itself was fresh and light, and the plantains added a nice crunch. The ceviche was just okay for me since I’m not a fan of raw fish to begin with, but there are always exceptions.
The Crispy Calamari: This was one unique salad. The calamari was tender and crispy, however it was on the salty side. Having said that, when the fried calamari was paired with the greens, banana slices, and orange-sesame vinaigrette, the salad balanced out perfectly. I’ve never experienced banana slices in a salad, and it was a great addition to offset some of the saltiness with a little sweetness.
Tunapica Tartare: As mentioned above, I’m not a fan of raw fish, however the Tuna Tartare Tacos are an exception to the rule. Filled in a crispy wonton shell with tuna, Spanish olives, currants, toasted coconut, almond and avocado ceviche, this light appetizer was beyond delicious. There were complex flavors in this dish that flawlessly came together with the perfect blend of crunchy, sweet, and savory in every bite. I absolutely loved the addition of the sweet currants which really stood out from the rest of the ingredients. This appetizer is a must do!
Casabe Cakes: The pulled pork cooked in a sweet guava barbeque sauce was tasty, but also slightly chewy. The pork sat on Yuca Fritters topped with onion and Fresno peppers. Overall, a good appetizer that you can’t go wrong with.
Snapper: The snapper was tender and sat on a bed of coconut ginger carrot broth that was on the thicker side due to the creaminess from the coconut. Additionally, below the snapper were two yuca dumplings that were quite bland and some delicious bok choy. This dish was topped with vegetable escabeche. The snapper was very slightly spicy and one of the my favorite dishes of the night. With that said, a side of coconut rice would have been a great addition to this dish.
Short Rib Vaca Frita: I’m not a big red-meat eater, but lately I’ve been enjoying short ribs. They’re quite amazing to say the least. Here you have a generous sized portion of tender short ribs that were lightly fried. This unique dish had a plethora of flavors and started off with carrot puree at the bottom topped with perfectly sweet plantains (maduros) over the puree. The short ribs sat over a bed of plantains which are then topped off with a spicy cilantro sauce. The cilantro sauce when paired with the short ribs was truly exceptional.
Yuca Fries: The fries were good, a little bland, but when bathed in the buttery, garlicky, limey mojo sauce, it was delicious.
Plantain Fried Rice: Whoever came up with this concoction is a genius! This dish right here is where Asia meets Cuba. The savory flavored Asian fried rice consisted of bean sprouts and edamame combined with a few pieces of Cuban sweet plantains (maduros). This dish was then topped off with avocado ceviche, which is essentially guacamole. A highly flavorful dish of where Asia meets Cuba that came together brilliantly.
Coffee & Dessert
Coffee: Good, solid cup of hot coffee.
Guava Whipped Layer Cheesecake: Our waitress took the liberty of surprising us with the chef’s favorite dessert. I was secretly hoping it would be Coconut Cake, but alas, it was Guava Cheesecake. Right off the bat, I was very impressed by the presentation of this dessert, it reminded me of a Napolean, you know, layers and all. When I finally had a bite of this heavenly dessert that consisted of crunch, sweetness, and creaminess all in one bite, I was very happy our waitress surprised us with this light and refreshing dessert.
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Asia de Cuba
CUISINE: Asian Fusion, Cuban, Latin-American
FAVORITES: The Crispy Calamari | Tunapica Tartare | Snapper Large Plate | Plantain Fried Rice | Guava Whipped Layer Cheesecake
VERDICT: 4.25 / 5
My experience at Asia de Cuba was extraordinary. The decor here is trendy in an intimate, dimly lit setting. The food is unique and innovative, the flavors are fresh and tasty, and the service by our server, Gina, was exceptional. My absolute favorites of the night were easily the Tuna Tartare Tacos, Plantain Fried Rice and Guava Whipped Layer Cheesecake. Keep in mind, if tuna isn’t your cup of tea, opt for the Beetpica Tartare appetizer instead which is a vegetarian spin on the Tuna Tartare. Next time I visit Asia de Cuba, I would like to try the Chicken Chicharrones, Black Cod, Chili Scallops, and that divine Coconut Cake everyone keeps raving about. Overall, the innovative food and seductive atmosphere at Asia de Cuba will make your visit a worthwhile one.
Food: Excellent | Drinks: Excellent | Décor:Trendy/Chic | Service: Excellent/Attentive | Value: Good
415 Lafayette St., New York, NY
Have you been to Asia de Cuba recently, or in the past? What was your favorite item?