By Sara Liss
The goods: Restaurant titan Jeffrey Chodorow continues to put Miami on the culinary map with the opening of his much buzzed about Asia de Cuba at the Mondrian Hotel. Adding to his restaurant roster of Kobe Club, China Grills and Blue Door, this outpost of trendy cocktails and fusion cuisine is the sixth in Chodorow’s portfolio. Designed by Marcel Wanders, the white-on-white dining room is located in the lobby of the scene-heavy hotel with an aesthetic credo that can be summed up as Sleeping Beauty on acid. The centerpiece of the dining room is the marble communal table — outfitted with oversized chandeliers and high-backed chairs, it’s one of the most dramatic private dining tables in the city. The outdoor patio offers al fresco seating and dazzling bay views, in addition to more of Wanders’s whimsical furniture and oversize cabanas.
The grub: Asian-Latin fusion at its most haute. There’s plenty of ethnic comingling on the menu, with sweet and savory concoctions marrying ingredients indigenous to both Cuban and Chinese palates. The menu is pitched to the hip and affluent and, like most restaurants on the China Grill roster, portions are served family-style and thus priced to share. Starters average $20 and mains range $36-$79. If you stick to the restaurant’s ordering formula – 2 people = 2 appetizers, 1 entrée, 1 side – you should emerge with a relatively reasonable check and a satisfying feast.
Start off with the "tunapica," a tuna tartar seasoned with black olives, currants, almonds and served on a tower of fried wontons. The braised beef spring rolls served with black bean papaya salsa are also a fitting preview for the bold fare to come. Entrees like the grilled strip steak are big enough for two and come heaped with logs of chickpea fries and a palate-refreshing melon slaw. Fish dishes include a miso-glazed cod accompanied by a colorful edamame and black bean salad and an ahi tuna with wasabi mash and chimichurri sauce. Looking for a splurge? Go for the lobster "mai tai" bathed in rum, coconut and red curry sauce. Generous sides like the lobster-boniato mash and plantain fired rice with avocado salad offer inventive combinations on starch-heavy staples.
Desserts aim to please by offering mammoth portions of crowd-pleasing fare like a multi-layered coconut cake with coconut ice cream and Caribbean carrot cake with pineapple and Asian pear served with lemongrass-black currant ice cream.
The verdict: The hip and hungry in Miami now have a stylish outpost to sample New York’s popular Latin-fusion cuisine.
Asia de Cuba, 1100 West Ave, 305-514-1940. Breakfast daily 7-11:30 a.m. Lunch daily 11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m. Dinner Sunday-Thursday 6-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday: 6-midnight
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