La Giraldilla is an ancient symbol of Cuba representing Havana’s first female governor Ines de Bobadilla aka Isabel de Bobadilla. Legend has it that her husband left her as governor whilst he went to on expedition to Florida. Unfortunately he died during his travels but that never stopped her from standing and watching on top of Castillo de la Real Fuerza (the governor’s home at the time) everyday, waiting for her husband’s ship to return. It is believed that she died of a broken heart in 1534, four years after he left. This legend of love and loyalty was memorialised in 1634 when a weathervane shaped as a woman was put on top of Castillo de la Real Fuerza in her honour. This figure, known as La Giraldilla, has come to represent Havana, Cuba. You will find this same figure on the coasters at Asia de Cuba.
I am going to share our own love story of a new restaurant in town – Asia de Cuba. Unlike La Giraldilla, my spouse will know exactly where to find me if I tell him I need to discover Florida…or rather Floradora on Holiday – A delicious flowery cocktail made with gin, hibiscus, lime and ginger soda. Just one of the many exotic drinks on the menu.
Recently the Real Housewives of Abu Dhabi were invited down to check out the new restaurant Asia de Cuba. If you haven’t heard Asia de Cuba is the talk of the town being reviewed by restaurant critics, foodies and bloggers. This is what happens when you are the new kid on the block. And what a block it is! Located right on the Corniche beachside in the Nation Riviera Beach Club across from Nation Towers. It is amazing how tranquil the atmosphere is only steps away from the busy traffic of the Corniche Road. Luxurously decorated with a modern aristocratic Caribbean vibe, you feel like you have left Abu Dhabi. The only reminder would be the tent top of Marina Mall…oh yeah.. and the big UAE flag that waves from the Corniche breakwater.
The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating, but this time of year you have to sit outside. The view is so relaxing. It is the perfect place to meet up with your girlfriends for lunch – which is exactly what we did. You will definitely feel like a VIP sitting right next to the beach sipping on your drink.
So what about the food? OK. This restaurant is called Asia de Cuba. It is Chinese Cuban fusion which means that all the dishes will have some Chinese and Cuban aspect to it – Chino Latino. Don’t go expecting your favourite Cuban moros y christianos (black beans and rice) or arroz con pollo (chicken and rice). You won’t find Sweet and Sour Chicken or Springrolls on the menu either. What you will find though is unique and flavourful dishes that are intriguing. For example – The Seven Spice Roasted Chicken comes with plantains, black bean congri (mixture of black beans and rice) but it had cheese mixed in, and shittake mushrooms. Not exactly the Cuban chicken and rice but still delicious just the same. The same for the Chino Latino Stir Fried Rice. It is lamb with Spanish seasoning but the spouts and tamari give it a Chinese flavour. If you love seafood you are in luck as the menu has mostly seafood options – different variations of ceviche, shrimp, fluke, and tuna just to name a few. There are a few meat and chicken options for those that do not eat seafood. The table favourites were the Fluke Sashimi, Shrimp Churros, and the Wagyu Ropa Veija Emapanadas.
To me the cocktails and the mocktails are the real show stoppers at Asia de Cuba. They have a Pina Colada that is made with saki instead of rum. There is a classic version of the Pina Colada if you want to stick with the original. The Mojitos are made with fresh sugar cane juice, and the Spring and Mulberry is a light fruity cocktail made with vodka, elderflower, blackberry, creme de violette and lime.
We loved all the mocktails, but if we had to pick favourites it would be the Buena Vista – made with rhubarb, passion fruit and pineapple and the Coco Drilo – avocado, coconut milk and agave.
We went during the day but can only imagine the restaurant looking magical in the evening. We loved the place. To get to the restaurant, there is valet parking in front of Nation Towers. You have to take the slip road right past St Regis Abu Dhabi. Once your car is valeted, there is a corridor that will take you directly to the restaurant.
So go on and plan a lunch down there with your favourite housewives. Go see what the fuss is about. You can make reservations online at www.asiadecuba.com or by calling 02 699 3333.
Let us know what you think!