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foodzings: NYC Swanksville

Thursday, May 10, 2007

NYC Swanksville


I asked a friend who used to live in NYC, or at least across the way, where to eat dinner. He, being a Cuban, recommended Asia de Cuba. Then he went on to tell me about how there is a significant population of Chinese in Cuba. They’ve been there since the mid-1800’s, when they were brought in to work the sugar fields. Sound familiar? And they stayed and married Cuban and Chinese cuisine together. Who knew?

Asia de Cuba is in midtown, as part of the Morgans hotel. Now the thing is, Morgans does not have a sign. We had to guess, just by the numbers on other buildings, if that was the Morgans. And Asia de Cuba has a teeny tiny “sign” that you could so easily miss also. Really, we wouldn’t mind if there was a sign. It could prove helpful. Asia de Cuba itself is not that big, but they make good use of the space. There are recessed booths on the edges, smatterings of tables next to the booths, and a cafeteria style table in the middle, that seats about 24 or so. The ceiling is high, and on the second floor, there are some more small tables along the perimeter, overlooking the first floor. The place claims to be swanky, and it is.




We had an early reservation as we had to eat, catch the A train, and head up to Washington Heights. We were seated promptly and our effervescent waiter asked us if we’d dined there before. Once he found out we were newbies, he recommended that since the portions were large, for two he would recommend two appetizers, an entrée, and a side dish. Sounded good with us. In the meantime, we ordered a mojito and another drink whose name I forget. They were very attractive drinks. Much more attractive than the people drinking them. My drink was good and strong, the mojito was the best. It was truly the best mojito we’d ever had. I’m not crazy about them, but this one was so good. And it came with a stick of actual sugar cane you could gnaw on. Yum. They were strong too, and we could both feel them. We were excited about riding the subway drunk.




We decided to go with the calamari salad, and when we told our waiter, he said it was large, so we should probably just stick with one appetizer. Kudos to him for not trying to milk extra money out of us. Bravo. This salad was indeed ginormous. It comes with the fancy greens, crispy fried calamari, chayote (which we’d never had before, looks like green apple, tastes like nothing but has a nice crunch), hearts of palm (which J had never had but I had eaten plenty of in Brazil), banana, and cashews, in a sesame orange dressing. The dressing was very light, not too sesame-y or orange-y. The calamari were the best part. It was a great salad.



As an entrée, we went with the honey rum glazed pot roast of pork. You can never go wrong with pork in a Cuban restaurant, or a Chinese restaurant for that matter. This came with some good hunks of fatty and juicy pork, sautéed baby bok choy, fried plantains, and enoki mushrooms. The sauce was strong, and the flavor was everywhere. You could see big chunks of thick bacon that had been in the juice. Those had extremely strong flavors. I loved everything. And with that salad, it was plenty of food. We also got some plantain fried rice with avocado salad. It was basically fried rice with some plaintain chunks topped with guacamole. It wasn’t anything special. So that was the lowlight of the meal. But it was a good accompaniment to the strong flavors of the entrée.


The service was good and attentive. The place does get loud when people start filling up, but what are you gonna do. You’re in a hip NYC restaurant, who doesn’t want to yap? The sociological highlight of the evening was the cafeteria table in the middle. A party of 11 high school girls, all perfect and blonde, were having some type of celebration. How come when I was in high school, I didn’t go to hip expensive restaurants? I feel jipped. Then, a party of 11 college men, all perfect in their button down striped shirts, were also having some type of celebration. You can’t even plan that kind of stuff.

2 Comments:

At May 12, 2007 at 8:01 AM , Blogger jgressier said...

I ate at Asia de Cuba too last year and loved it!

 
At May 12, 2007 at 9:37 AM , Anonymous CD said...

exploring the nyc food scene is such a treat! drunk subway rides are too ;-)

 

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