West Hollywood: Cocktails and Dinner at Asia de Cuba
I was invited to try Asia de Cuba at the Mondrian Hotel. Asia de Cuba recently started offering more small plates making it easier for groups to share. We decided to order a slew of them to try.
We started with a trio of ceviche. From Left to Right:
Black Grouper – with Seville orange and aji amarillo
Shrimp- with snapper, confit watermelon
Wild salmon – with salted avocado helado
There’s also a curry swordfish with passion fruit but we didn’t try that one. My favorite was the shrimp with snapper and watermelon. The black sesame flecked chip reminded me of some good Chinese shrimp chips. They’re rather large so I ended up breaking them down before scooping up the ceviche to eat.
I got the Santiago de Daiquiri during our first round of cocktails. I was eying the Hemingway Thyme as well and after tasting both, I wished I had gotten it. While I like the Santiago, I love thyme and the Hemingway Thyme was very well balanced. The thyme foam was really nice.
Chili Passion Caipirinha – cachaca, muddle limed, raw sugar, passion fruit puree, dash sriracha
Santiago de Daiquiri – aged rum, lime, cardamon pod, pineapple, cane syrup
Hemingway Thyme- aged rum, lime, marashino, cane syrup, grapefruit twist, thyme foam
From the raw bar, we got the spicy hamachi and plantain threads. The yellowtail was very fresh and it had a lovely sauce.
I have always thought lettuce cups were a fun thing to eat. They’re like the original low-carb treat from the Chinese. With a ropa vieja (confit) of duck legs, the meat was then slid into perfectly trimmed and chilled lettuce cups. There was almost too much meat to make a neat package but the best part about eating with your hands is licking the sauce off. Okay, did I really do that?
I noticed last summer it seemed like octopus was going to be the next big “meat.” It has a lot of appeal for those who only eat seafood. It can acquire that meaty texture when grilled. Asia de Cuba did a great job with this dish but what was even more impressive were the sake pickled lychees. I loved these lightly salty lychees. I may have to try my hand at pickling lychees the next time I find them fresh.
I’m always down for noodles. The Asian Noodle Box sounded interesting. It was a bit like the Chinese “cheung fun” or manicotti if you will. These square packages had an assortment of Cuban veggies and mushrooms making it a great vegetarian dish.
The calamari salad was just that- crispy calamari on top of chicory and radicchio greens and chayote, hearts of palm, banana, cashews with a sesame orange dressing. The calamari was tender though I admit I could have done with the salad on the side. I don’t like croutons and the crispy coating from the calamari reminded me of that. On the plus side, most people would like that crunch.
We decided to get the scallop tataki and dragon fruit from the raw bar. The dragon fruit reminded me of another Asian-Latin fusion concept. I liked Asia de Cuba’s version more though. The clean fruit came across with the delicate scallops.
Is it time for more cocktails? Of course it is.
For this round, I went for the Havana Cigar Manhattan. I was intrigued by the cigar syrup. It’s probably the most “old man” drink of all the cocktails on the list. And since I love my old man drinks, this was the right one for me.
On the other hand, I liked the light and frothy Cantaloupe Pisco Sour. I had a taste and even though I’m a pisco sour purist, I appreciated the fruit in this drink.
Havana Cigar Manhattan – aged rum, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, cigar syrup
Cantaloupe Pisco Sour- pisco, lemon, muddled cantaloupe, cane syrup, egg white
After all that seafood, I wanted a hit of pork. We went for the honey-rum glazed Kurobuta pork belly. The thick pieces were served on top of bok choy.
At last we were done with the appetizers otherwise known as courses 1-8. I could have left a happy camper at this point but how do you do a menu tasting without tasting more of the menu? We haven’t even gotten to mains and sides yet!
We decided on one main and one side. The spiny lobster is the thing to get and there are several options for it. We decided to wait for the green seafood and yellow rice Chinese clay pot featuring the spiny lobster along with a medly of jumbo shrimp, calamari, clams and mussels. Hello tasty friends.
Other spiny lobster dishes to enjoy are the spiny lobster and hearts of palm cajou under the starters and the spiny lobster wok chi on crispy sushi rice under the mains. Maybe next time I’ll do an all-spiny lobster tasting?
I loved the avocado salad on top of the plantain fried rice. This dish quintessentially a marriage between Cuban and Chinese food.
I had a sip of the Asia de Cuba Libre (house-spiced aged rum, lime, chai cola). It was probably the best Cuba Libre I’ve had. Loved the chai infused cola.
We couldn’t possibly eat dessert. Yet, we did. The restaurant sent out an enormous dessert platter. Although not on the menu, they will happily make up a platter for you if you give them some notice. I stuck to the fruit and sorbet but the chocolate cake was tempting.
Besides, we did get the Cuban Missile which is a ginormous cocktail meant to be shared. Between two people. Yes, really. I put my now empty Havana Cigar Manhattan next to it to give you some frame of reference. Actually, the cocktails for the table are a great deal. The Cuban Missile and the Fiesta Cocktail are $24 and $22 respectively but I would say 3 or more people could easily share this. If you don’t want to build long straws to share like an old fashioned tiki bar, Asia de Cuba offers a more civilized solution. You can order the watermelon or guava punches which come in a dispenser with spout.
I liked that the restaurant is doing some interesting food and cocktails. It reminded me of the vibrancy of Miami and I didn’t have to get on a 5-hour flight. Sometimes hotel restaurants can be big on the scene but not much in terms of food.
Asia de Cuba at the Mondrian Hotel
8440 W Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069 — (323) 848-6000
© The Minty 2012