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2 interior

 
  

 Asia de Cuba at Mondrian South Beach, 1100 West Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139

305 514 1940 chinagrillmgt.com.

A gastronomic United Nations in a casual, glamorous setting

 
1 ceviches2 grouer3 salmon helado   7 octopus

6 shrimp

9 chilean sea bass

10 shrimp mai tai

13 interior

14 dessert

15 dessert

16 dessert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Simone Zarmati Diament

Location, location…   Asia de Cuba, on the west coast of South Beach has it all. Off the lobby of the elegant Mondrian Hotel, it’s one of those rare places in Miami that has an outdoor waterfront terrace with a sweeping view of the harbor and the Miami skyline, a strong restaurant corporation that backs it — Jeffrey Chodorow’s China Grill Management —, a sexy white-on-white, Philip Starck-ish restaurant area designed by Marcel Wanders and a great chef, Sean Mohamed.

Inside, gorgeous crystal chandeliers light up whimsical giant chess-like columns, mirrors and a 24-seat communal table flanked by high-backed chairs; white of course.   It is the ideal setting for bachelorette parties or any party at all for that matter. Even, or especially if it is just a dinner for two.

That the service is great and very knowledgeable helps a great deal as the menu is vast and everything on the list reads like something you want to have.  So while servers encourage you to try different items they will warn you if you might be overdoing it.   From appetizers to desserts everything is for sharing, family-style, except for the signature cocktails with names like Havana Cigar Manhattan, Mambo King, Mango Queen, Hemingway Thyme or raspberry cloud caipirinha.

Ceviche and Raw Bar ($7 - $17)
 The presentations are gorgeous and Chef Sean excels in exploring the interaction of textures, tastes and temperatures in one dish.

Like in a Kung Fu high-flying fantasy movie, this section of the menu surpasses its heading with intensely flavored ceviches like wild salmon and salted avocado ice cream with spicy coconut milk and black lava salt; curry swordfish and passion fruit — the tastes of the Caribbean islands —; and black grouper with Seville orange and ají Amarillo — Peruvian-style. You can try any three by ordering the Trio ($19).

Then there’s Kumamoto oysters and grapegruit-ginger granité and Florida stone crab claws with mung bean aioli and mizuna salad.

Starters ($12 - $18)
I would be content to dine on both the ceviches and the boldly inventive starters at Asia de Cuba. They’re like a gastronomic United Nations. The deep umami-tasting Tunapica — tuna tartare picadillo style on wonton crisps —  comes with Spanish olives, black currants, almonds, coconut and a soy vinaigrette. The Spanish-Greek-style crispy octopus ajillo is caramelized to perfection and shocked with a jolt of sweetness from the sake-pickled lychee. The voyage continues with Thai beef salad, Honey-rum glazed Kurobuta pork belly over sweet plantain maduros and spicy Shanghai bok choy and enoli mushrooms.

Not to forget “ropa vieja” of duck — a play of French duck confit, Cuban sofrito of scallion, chayote and red pepper, Asian hoisin port sauce — served in lettuce cups; or the Calamari Salad Asia de Cuba. This dish is a hit with tender and crisp fried calamari over a mixed green salad filled with palm of hearts, banana, avocado, cashews tossed with sesame-orange dressing.

The dilemma is whether to try out all of the starters or to pace oneself in order to give the mains a chance. We did both!

Mains and sides ($19 - $49 and $7 - $13)
Chef Mohamed is light-handed when it comes to fats and oils. He rather puts the emphasis on spices and quality ingredients and while not breaking new ground, he aims at surprising you as much as pleasing your palate with dishes like Wild salmon “en papel” or baked in papillotte with hearts of palm, maitake mushroons, ginger and scallions with sake and sour orange; and the fork-tender and moist miso-cured Alaskan black cod with edamame “fufu” and grilled shishito peppers.

The Coconut sustainable Chilean seabass, is served with jumbo lump crab, a sweet and creamy corn flan, and cilantro chimichurri veggies, and is big enough for two with a side of the unusually good plantain fried rice with avocado salad.

Giant prawns Mai Tai, sweet and fleshy, come whole, with tail and all, in a delicious red Thai curry, rum and coconut cream, crispy black choy and boniato chips. We complemented the dish with a side of Thai coconut sticky rice baked in banana leaves.

Other mains include the fried panko-crusted chicken “milanasia” — the Latin counterpart is chicken “milanesa”— with spice greens and jicama salad with sherry soy dressing and chimichurri; the Cuban-Chinese bistec empanizado with sofrito, Japanese eggplants and watercress salad with orange oil; and the Char Siu beef short ribs with tostones, among others.

Sides, a meal on their own, list a rich lobster boniato mash, bamboo-steamed Asian and Caribbean veggies and Shanghai noodles.

Desserts ($9 - $14)
Desserts are also for sharing as the portions are large and the scale is high sweet.

We had to try some, especially since the girls at the bachelorette table were at the point when the future bride, her veil askew, forgetting her figure was swooning over each mouthful of the table’s dessert selection.

The Mini Mexican doughnuts with caramel sauce are a fairly typical Latin American fried churro dough. A large serving came in a bamboo steamer with a cajeta or dulce de leche dip. Hot and sprinkled with sugar, people find them delicious under any latitude. Upon our server’s recommendation we then had Piña y crema, a vanilla cheesecake with caramelized pineapple, the sweetness of which was offset by the tart passionfruit syrup.

Other desserts include the Coconut Invasion, a coconut layer cake with coconut ice cream and warm chocolate sauce; there’s a choice of fresh sorbets with skewers of fresh fruit and passion fruit chili dipping sauce, and a Banana Sundae to satisfy the sweet cravings of a large family with caramelized banana, chocolate and vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and macadamia nut brittle.

Dining at Asia de Cuba is a treat; casually urban, the ambiance is funky and pleasant, the service impeccable and friendly. After dinner, we lounged around the pool area to stretch out in the warm air and take in the view in the silence of the night.

This type of dining is what gives Miami its aura of glitz, laid-back sophistication and friendly glamour.


 

4 sharing table

Asia de Cuba at Mondrian South Beach, 1100 West Ave., Miami Beach; 305-514-1940; chinagrillmgt.com.

 


Breakfast and lunch 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily;

dinner Monday through Friday 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 6 p.m. to midnight.