Since opening in January 2015, Asia De Cuba on Abu Dhabi’s corniche has long been a favourite spot for team Out & About. Offering a spectacular beach deck and an elaborately furnished dining room, Asia De Cuba has been pivotal in redefining the nightlife scene in the capital. Bringing the Miami beach house vibe that proved so successful in London and New York (currently closed for renovation) to the Middle East.
The Abu Dhabi location offers everything one could want from an alfresco dining space — a vibrant atmosphere, appealing surroundings and some impressive mixology to boot. Having frequented the establishment for the past three years, we realise that we’re yet to write a review and having suffered some disappointments with the food during a number of recent events, it seemed like an apt time to re-assess the culinary offerings.
A cool winters evening means we bypass the dining room in favour of an optimum spot on the deck, showcasing a prominent central bar decked out in intricate tile work. With views over the Arabian Gulf and cabanas that virtually sit upon the sand, we’re perhaps a little too eager to order a sundowner, but based on previous visits we knew exactly what we require and gleefully order the Patong Palmer, a beguiling blend of Thai tea, coconut milk, tequila and Aperol.
There are a couple of things that always impress at Asia De Cuba, firstly the venue itself is hard to beat! Effortlessly blending the casual nature of the beach with a fine dining approach to dining. Yes it may seem like a bizarre oxymoron but Asia De Cuba manages to blend together both casual and upmarket in seamless fashion. Secondly, the service is consistantly good, with the team well versed in the menu, making diners aware of the smallest details (such as drinks containing egg white) and are able to offer sensible recommendations, always with a smile.
A little too early for dinner, we decide to sample some of the bar bites that include the fragrant Shrimp and Lemongrass Shumai (AED 75) which are likely to impress even the most avid of dim sum fans and play nicely into the Asian element of the concept. Cuban-born Executive Chef, Luis Pous, conjures up an innovative menu of Asian and Latin flavours into a concise offering that focuses on a select number of high-quality dishes. We absolutely adored the Cuban Bao Buns (AED 40) with their sweet coated chicken thigh meat served with Thai basil and wedged between the pillow-like bun dough. Easily representing some of the very best bao we’ve had in the region, with the possible exception of those found at Wakame in Dubai.
From the ceviche bar, we select the Salmon variation (AED 55). Presented in a sweet marinade of coconut and passionfruit and topped with a shiso salsa and micro wasabi. It’s a vibrant and memorable dish that manages to find a pleasing balance between sweet and savoury and reminds us of the remarkably similar Salmon Maracuya found at neighbouring BU. Moving away from the raw, we find an almost moreish addiction to the Signature Sweet Potato Fries (AED 55) with queso fresco and a chipotle honey soy that almost lacquers the vegetables providing the soft interior with a delightfully sweet coating.
In all honesty, we preferred the bar bites to the main courses (which are available after 6pm) with the Seared Scallops (AED 140) appearing more like a coconut curry mixed with green lentil and lacking the expected depth and body to a very watery sauce. The Mojo Duck Confit (AED 100) fared much better and offered excellent textures, thanks in part to the velvety nature of fried egg. Korean BBQ sauce adds sweetness to the dish, while warm orange segments provide bursts of citrus, reminding us of the exceptional Bibimbab at Namu. We only wish the duck hadn’t been used quite so sparingly amongst the aromatic rice.
Last time we ordered desserts here we managed to spill churro chocolate down a pristine white shirt (we’re blaming the excitement of the 2017 FACT Dining Awards for that one), thankfully no such mishaps occurred on this occasion! Foolishly expecting the Mexican Donuts (AED 45) to be more akin to churros, these fried parcels packed quite the unexpected punch from a fiery chilli encased within. It may have taken a bit of getting used to but ultimately, the flavours complement one another and the dulce de leche dipping sauce certainly helps. The Bananas Flambé (AED 55) are presented with a chilli chocolate lava cake complete with ‘ooze factor,’ yet the bananas remain the star of the show with their sweet caramelised coating
Three years in and Asia De Cuba remains one of our favourite nightlife spots in the capital, but sharing prime beachfront real estate with the seafood favourite Catch, the team need to remain consistent with their food offerings. With a soundtrack of ambient house music and a largeb expansion via a new pagoda-topped roof terrace, Asia De Cuba keeps getting better and better. In fact, we have visitors in town this weekend, so will be returning for the brunch — watch this space…
Shop & Win promotion at Nation Towers – Shoppers who spend more than AED 100 at any outlet of the Nation Galleria will receive a raffle voucher and have the chance to win exciting prizes, including a Nissan Patrol Nismo on the 15th January 2018.
Location: Nation Riviera Beach Club, Corniche Road, Al Khubeirah, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook
Hours: 12pm – midnight (2am on weekends)
Phone: 02 699 3333
Out & About UAE were guests of Asia De Cuba. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.