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.
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.
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).
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!
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?