I had my first taste of Asia de Cuba, the most well-known (only?) tropical-Asian fusion restaurant in London and New York, at Taste of London, and I’ve been dreaming of it ever since. After one failed attempt at lunch in August, I was ready for another go – especially since they had a 2-course £15 deal going on for London Restaurant Festival.
The restaurant is located in the St Martins Lane Hotel. It’s about as well-hidden as you can get being on a busy street in tourist London. The only hint of an address number is a nearly transparent sticker at the bottom corner of the giant chiffoned window that faces the street. I walked up and down the street about three times before I figured it out.
The other thing about Asia de Cuba is that it’s expensive. And by expensive, I mean overpriced. But that does not mean it’s not fantastic – it just means I’m not normally going to go unless A) it’s a special deal B) it’s a special occasion or C) someone else is paying. My lunch obviously fell under Category A.
I started out with the beef dumplings two ways: crispy with plum sauce and steamed with coconut rice and mango ponzu.
Gorgeous presentation. A bit small on the portion, but it is only a starter. The crispy dumpling was, indeed, crispy. There was far too little plum sauce though. After one swipe it was pretty much gone and I was left with a dry dumpling. The steamed morsel was much more my taste, but unless I’m blind, it didn’t come with any coconut rice. That was a bummer.
For my main, I got exactly what I tried at Taste of London – the dish I’ve been dreaming about for four months: Honey-rhum glazed pot roast of pork.
The top of the roast is crispy with caramelised goodness. Underneath that, there is a nice pork belly-esque layer of fat, followed by the most supple melt-in-your-mouth pork roast ever. The dish is served on top of cubed fried plantains (gotta get the tropical theme in there somewhere), enoki mushrooms and bok choi.
This is seriously one of my most favourite dishes on the planet. It is an absolute explosion of contrasting and complementing flavours all at the same time. I can not put into words how much I love this. It was just as good as I remembered, and I will have a hard time ever ordering anything else off the menu.
The only problem with this dish is that it is monstrous. I was conflicted… it was so good I wanted to finish every last bite, but I found myself slipping into food coma after about 25 minutes of om nom nom’ing and had to stop. In hindsight, I’m glad I did. I don’t think I could even look at food for the rest of the day.
Still, I think I did pretty well…
Dessert was not an option, but I think at some point in the near future, I could be tempted with the mini mexican donuts filled with butterscotch sauce. The others I thought looked very nice as well.
Service was fine, but nothing to write home about. I didn’t find anyone to be particularly personable, but I can’t complain since the service was prompt and the meal timed correctly.
There are definitely a lot of reasons people gripe about this restaurant (value for money being number 1), but as far as I’m concerned, they’re crazy – I’d probably pay double just to have that pork over and over again.