Restaurant Review: Asia de Cuba, St Martins Lane in London
Situated in the swanky St Martins Lane Hotel is the chain, Asia de Cuba, a renowned, ultra-trendy fusion restaurant that has been serving Asian-Cuban cuisine to happy diners for over 20 years. The restaurant is headed by Chef Pous, who trained as a chef in Cuba and has continued the vision and innovation of the Asia de Cuba founder Jeffrey Chodorow. I had the pleasure of dining there with my companion Emily on a dreary Thursday night and the experience certainly brightened up our evening!
The restaurant is nestled in the back of the hotel, so you walk through the reception where you can marvel at the diverse and interesting sculptures and art works. The décor is noticeably eclectic, with large pillars dominating the space, which were packed full of interesting books and Asian/Cuba fusion posters decorating the walls. The atmosphere was understandably buzzing, with lively Cuban music and low lighting.
Our waiter was very friendly and accommodating and recommended some delicious mocktails to start with whilst we looked over the innovative menu (we have both extended dry January and remain booze free!).
I started with tuna ceviche, soft, fresh tuna which melted in the mouth. Served in a crispy taco with olives and avocado, the dish was packed full of flavour and was a generous size. Emily plumped for the black bean and plantain empanadas, beautiful flaky pastry oozing with black bean and plantain, served with a spicy sweet chilli dip.
For my main I opted for the coffee encrusted beef rib, vine tomatoes, shiso mojo butter and wasabi miso potato purée. The steak melted in the mouth and as a huge coffee lover I really enjoyed the intense coffee flavour. The puree gave heat from the horseradish, adding depth of flavour to the meat and was perfectly silky smooth.
Emily chose chilli-rubbed scallops, black rice, black beans, roasted cauliflower and Japanese aioli but being vegan asked if she could substitute the scallops for tofu and our waiter was more than happy to oblige. The dish was wholesome and interesting with a subtle hint of garlic from the aioli. We couldn’t resist a side order of plantain fried rice, a signature dish that has been on the menu over 20 years. This was the dish of the night for both of us, the combination of fried rice with soft plantain, egg and vegetables was a marriage made in heaven and was topped with a generous dollop of guacamole. Ingenious and moreish!
The innovation continued with the dessert menu, with combinations of peppercorn ice cream and chocolate and Japanese fruits with coconut. We decided to share 2 desserts, Mexican doughnuts with caramel and chilli chocolate and lemon and lime tart, pineapple & Szechuan pepper confit, coconut meringue and tropical sorbet. The doughnuts were delightfully sinful, with delicious fried dough oozing with filling and generously dusted with cinnamon. They were served in a Chinese bamboo steamer and the portion was large enough for 2 people to share and probably a little too heavy for one. The lemon tart was an excellent accompaniment as it cut though the sweetness of the doughnuts perfectly, with crisp pastry and a sharp citrus filling. The coconut meringue was sublime, and the tropical sorbet was the flavour of a Caribbean holiday. A delicious end to an exquisite evening.
Asia de Cuba is certainly different, an enchanting restaurant with an enthralling, thought provoking menu and excellent service. The food combinations may at first seem a little strange but Chef Pous delivers on every plate with an amalgamation of flavours that shouldn’t work, but do. With restaurants in New York and Abu Dhabi, the chain is world-renowned and popular. The culinary marriage of Asia and Cuba pulls in the punters and certainly makes for interesting dining. For the Bellini lovers amongst you, there is a bottomless brunch running from 12-2.45 Friday to Sunday or £38pp, great value and a fabulous way to spend a soggy weekend in London.
Address: 45 St Martin’s Ln, London, WC2N 4HX