Asia de Cuba: An overdue dinner date in the capital.

Asia de Cuba: An overdue dinner date in the capital.

While living in Abu Dhabi, sadly, I spent most of my time overworked at a university that shall not be named and therefore rarely willing to leave the confines of Saadiyat Island.  For the most part, I reserved going out for meals to an absolute minimum or as a special occasion when I was on holiday.  In being a shut in (circa 2014-early 2016), I missed out on some of the best Abu Dhabi has to offer, including Asia de Cuba.

Thus, on a recent trip to the capital, I was delighted with an invitation to this venue.  Having only heard good things, I wanted to see for myself if the restaurant lived up to its reputation.

While there were recommendations for wine pairings with the meal (including a perfectly suitable dry white, which suited us just fine), Hubs and I first decided to opt for a cocktail — the Ditch Steet for me, and the Spring & Mulberry for him (reasonably priced at AED50 and AED65 respectively).  We weren’t disappointed, although I think next time I would order a sweeter concoction, or a classic favorite of mine, the Cuba Libre.

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We started the meal with a trio of appetizers: Red Quinoa (AED65), Red Snapper Ceviche (AED70), and Chicken Chicharrones (AED65).  I would happily order each of these again, and while the price point might be a tiny bit over, given the ambiance, I think the cost per dish is accurate within the market.  The Red Snapper was my favorite of the three, although it needed a bit more au jus.  A personal opinion to be sure, but I prefer ceviche to be served with a lot of citrus juice and acid to go with the protein (I would also have added a ton more cilantro, but that’s my personal taste).  While the quinoa was the favorite dish (of the evening) for Hubs, who claimed he could eat it every day, I thought it was a dish I would be able to replicate quite easily at home (not a bad thing, more when I go out I like plates I don’t have the skills to make at home).  We both enjoyed the chicken chicharrones, especially the accompanying sauce, which was a perfect blend of soy and ginger.

Overall, I thought the portion sizes were adequate for two people to split as starters, with the quantity of quinoa to probably be enough for four diners.

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For our mains, we were again served a trio, this time: Rocoto Miso Glazed Black Cod (AED145), Seven Spice Half Chicken (AED110), and Chino Latino’s stir fried rice (AED115).  I really wanted to like the chicken, but found it a bit dry, and for all its spices a tad bland (!).  Perhaps in comparison to the flavorful cod, I would give a pass to the chicken on a return visit.  Similarly, while I liked the complexity and some of the texture of the Fried Rice, I don’t think it’s a dish I would order again.  While it may sound as if I didn’t enjoy myself, I’m of the opinion that food is not everything when it comes to a restaurant, and had I the opportunity to order what I preferred, then my opinion of the venue would be more favorable.  Having a look at the menu, there are some dishes I want to try (I’m looking at you, Chili Rubbed Scallops).

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For dessert, we received a small tart, and the Thai Coconut and Lemon Grass Flan (AED55), as well as the Guava Whipped Layered Cheesecake (AED50).  Hubs more or less devoured the cheesecake (allowing me a small taste).  I enjoyed the super creamy texture and not overly sweet filling.  The biscuits added a nice amount of texture.  As I don’t usually tend to order desserts when dining out, I would’ve been happy to split the cheesecake between us and call it a night (especially after all the previous plates).  So, I might not be giving the flan every chance it deserves.  The dessert was pretty in its presentation, but with no discernible sweetness, I think next time I would try the Mexican Donuts and call it a night!

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Would I go back?  Absolutely.  Having a peek at their brunch menu, I am very intrigued (and a bit hungry).  Given the current weather, outdoor seating is a must and a little birdie tells me that a rooftop terrace is opening in the near future…

Have you been to Asia de Cuba?  What’s your favorite dish?

A to Za’atar was a guest of Asia de Cuba.  Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.
Asia De Cuba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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