Asia de Cuba: Overpriced for a Less-Than-Satisfactory Dining Experience

By Alice Greczyn

I had heard that Asia de Cuba, a Latin/Asian fusion restaurant claiming to be the first of its kind in LA, was absurdly overpriced and remarkably good.

I decided to find out for myself what all the hype was about.

There were stunning views to be had looking out the large windows, but unfortunately my jolly Dominican hostess sat me along a glass wall toward the back of the restaurant. I had not made a reservation, as it was only a Tuesday night, but I wished I had as I envied the eight o’ clock crowd that got to sit at the window booths, against the sparkling backdrop of Hollywood. The service was slow (I waited twenty minutes just for a waiter to ask if I’d like to start with water), the valet $15, and indeed, the prices on the menu were steep. The food had better be good, I thought, as I eyed the cockroach that was creeping up the glass wall to my right. I worried at any second he might lose his grip on the slippery surface and plummet into my hair. After finally getting my waiter’s attention, he tried to reassure me that it was only a water bug. Later I found out that water bug is just another name for the American cockroach.

My food arrived at last, and here the restaurant almost made up for drastically lost points. The meat dishes were definitely better than their sides. For my starter, I tried the Braised Beef Spring Roll with Cuban Black Bean Papaya Salsa. Tasty to be sure, but maybe I was just so starved by then. The Thai Coconut Sticky Rice that accompanied my Cuban BBQ Chicken was disappointing. It looked very pretty, wrapped tightly in a bright green leaf, but tasted bland, not sweet at all. The chicken, however, was lip-smackingly good. The Char Sui Beef Short Ribs were tangy and tender, yet the Lobster Mashed Potatoes were too buttery for my taste, and I’m a gal who loves her butter. Then there was dessert…

The Mexican Doughnuts alone are reason enough to return, even if I only ordered them to-go… Sweet Brioche Donuts Rolled in Cinnamon Sugar with Toffee Sauce. Every granule was the sweetest, spiciest crumb of fluff it promised to be, and the toffee sauce was addictive. I licked my fingers, not caring I was making smacking noises that all the elegant people could hear. The sugar melted on my tongue as I scraped it off. The Cuban Opera Cake was silky and dark, dense with moisture and seductively rich.

My bill? $161.57 with a moderate tip, and I had not even ordered alcohol. Far too pricey to justify a dining experience for two that was anything less than impeccable. Views? Check, if you made a reservation and requested a window table. Food? Check, depending on what you order. Service? Unfortunately slow, when the restaurant is not even full. Worth the cost? Possibly for an extravagant occasion, such as an anniversary, but with drinks and valet and tip, be prepared to spend over $200.

Asia de Cuba is located inside the Mondrian Hotel at 8440 West Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069. Call 323-848-6000 to make a reservation, which I highly recommend. I could not find the restaurant’s own website, but for images and hours, you can find the link for Asia de Cuba on the Mondrian’s website, www.mondrianhotel.com.