Asia De Cuba
237 Madison Ave (btwn 37th/38th Sts)
On a recent trip to Miami, I had the pleasure of dining at Asia De Cuba in the newly opened, gloriously fantasy-scaled Mondrian hotel overlooking the bay. The coolly chic setting and extravagant dinner equally conspired for a wonderful evening. I thought I should revisit the restaurant’s first fusion-fueled location in the Morgans hotel, here in New York. I hadn’t been since somewhere in the 90’s, when it was a sheer revelation in its Philippe Starck-ness décor. Asia De Cuba still sets quite a table and quite a scene.
A bracing Mai Tai ($14) was first up, made with Bacardi O, Gosling Dark Rhum, a host of juices and almond syrup. Then the food arrived, like a delicious culinary landslide, served family-style to feed roughly four (also can be tailored for larger parties). Tunapica ($24) is a must, with tuna tartare, Spanish olives, and coconut in soy-lime vinaigrette, stacked on wonton crisps. Crispy Calamari Salad ($25) was a risky but triumphant gathering of hearts of palm, banana, cashews, bitter greens and sesame orange dressing. Sumptuous Lobster Shiitake Potstickers ($30) are my favorite, in vanilla rhum and lobster coral sauces.
Rare Pan Seared Ahi Tuna ($43) was quite good, served over crunchy wasabi mashed potatoes, made so by wasabi peas! Delicate Miso Cured Alaskan Black Cod ($38) is richly, melt-in-your-mouth good, served with black bean and edamame salad. Asia De Cuba ‘Mar y Tierra’ ($79), their version of surf n’ turf, presents nicely done slices of wagyu striploin and huge tempura shrimp sprouting outwards like Cuban cigars. Avocado pineapple salsa and spoonfuls of spicy chipotle béarnaise go with. For sides, we ordered the fantastic Lobster-Boniato Mash ($16) with great lobster chunks and Plaintain Fried Rice with Avocado Salad ($12), another clever union that suddenly made sense.
Desserts are divinely decadent, utterly ruinous combos. The jaw-dropping Bay of Pigs ($19), a super-hyped banana split, practically covers the table, knocked over the top with coconut “sushi.” We also practically stabbed each other’s hands with our forks going for the Piña y Crema ($14), a gorgeous vanilla cheesecake with caramelized pineapple and passion fruit syrup. Simply fusion-fabulous!