Another huge brunch experience - Asia de Cuba, Abu Dhabi

When Asia de Cuba emerged on the Abu Dhabi dining scene around 15 months ago, along with two other restaurants, it changed the landscape of dining. Abu Dhabi has alway followed trends in Dubai, but Asia de Cuba's choice of Abu Dhabi as its first Middle eastern restaurant has proved significant. With diners on the look out for something special, Asia de Cuba has given them exactly that. With their a la carte dining already a proven winner with expats and locals, I was clearly filled with anticipation when I recently tried their Friday brunch.





5 reasons you are going to love this brunch

Location

It is a stand-alone restaurant, which means  a luxurious brunch without feeling you are in a hotel again. It is located on the corniche, overlooking the sea. Large open spaces with beautiful landscaping - you will be forgiven for thinking you were no longer in the desert.



Concept

The brunch makes excellent use of its space on the terrace. There is no buffet. Instead, a set menu with quite an impressive array of dishes is available. Tapas, Salads , a choice of main courses, desserts and for those with a passion for grills, there is a live grill station. In terms of drinks, there is a 'make your own' mojito bar and for premium brunchers, Taittinger NV champagne flows freely. The concept 

Dishes


Adjectives that jump to mind: Creative. Flavoursome. Abundant. Cuban-born Executive Chef, Luis Pous has extended his skilfull blending of Latino and Asian flavours that has found a large following in Abu Dhabi, to Friday brunch. 

Tapas include Guava filled pastelitos, sweet potao hummus and a very interesting choice, Shrimp churros! However, my two stand out tapas are the Red Snapper ceviche with its balanced and strong flavours. Then, the Wagyu ropa vieja spring rolls is backed by butter lettuce and roccoto sweet and sour. The pastry in the spring rolls is perfect as is the wagyu. This is a very clever dish which shows that a marriage of two cuisines is not always about flavours. A spring roll is a very typical Asian snack. 


It is quite a carb-heavy tapas selection, so make sure you don't fill up on them. The restaurant has tried to reflect an authentic Cuban mid-morning experience, hence, you will see sweet and savoury dishes part of the same course.

Three salads form part of the salad course brought to your table. The Icy hot shrimp and Roasted Duck are outstanding. The latter in particular, with its deft blend of sweet, sour and salty is a must have - expect pomegranate, blood orange and almonds mingling with your duck. The only downside is the Black rice & Grilled corn salad. Even though I added extra lemon, my palate just found it too dry. 



The main dishes are different to what your understanding of 'main' might be. The mains vary from light, the Chinese eggplant, to more substantial. As you have your entree you need to remember that there is still a  grill station, so pacing here, over 4 hours, is essential. My guest and I try the Huevos benedict, or Eggs benedict to you and me. I have never been as excited by an egg dish as I am by this. Veal in BBQ sauce on a bun , itself on some Avo poblano sauce. OMG, an unbelievable dish. 


The menu at brunch changes, and I am told I just missed the Black cod cycle, but thankfully they find cod floating around :-) and my guest and I have this as our other main - one main course per guest. Chef has cooked it ensuring the natural moisture and fattiness remains intact. But if you do need extra flavour, the miso and ricotta glaze should satisfy you! Another outstanding dish. 



Finally, the Grill station has some seriously tasty meat. Highly recommended are the Guava BBQ prawns and the beef ribs. It is the use of guava that really piques my interest. I feel it is  a misunderstood fruit and under appreciated. Kudos to Chef for using guava in two of the dishes on the menu. 


Finally,m dessert. Mmm. It is smartly presented in a bento box. Tropical fruits and  a selection of sorbet that includes yuzu and coconut water is a colourful end to brunch at Asia de Cuba. 




The extra wow factor
Have you noticed how at brunches around 3pm, there is a bit of a lull in a brunch as waiters count down the time to the end of brunch and guests have that feeling too that it is coming to an end? Unwittingly, Asia de Cuba has added some excitement to this moment in the brunch. They offer a  mojito making class. No, nothing formal. Emphasis is on fun. 


Bar and Lounge Manager Ernesto is perfect in getting a group of  guests together and leading the class on the terrace, in full view of envious lookers on! This exercise amounts to what I call adding an x-factor; something different; something that, when you have forgotten what you ate and drank, you will recall this moment.

Having participated in this, I must say it is one of the most fun-filled activities I have tried in at a brunch. No, wait a minute, it is the only fun activity I have had at a brunch in the city. Inventive. Innovative.  




People watching
Now I know how many people enjoy this at a  brunch. This is especially enjoyable at fashionable brunches where men and women take a little bit extra care in their appearance. And with Asia de Cuba attracting a more eclectic crowd than your usual brunch thanks to its latino concept, it is ideal for people watching. I think having a cool factor is something that not enough brunches pay attention to; people want more than just food and drinks. 










The Verdict

When the end of year awards for best brunch in Abu Dhabi rolls around, this brunch will factor strongly in the minds of the magazine editors. It represents the new wave of brunches that are challenging the traditional brunch concept, and with brunch couples  becoming younger and seeking more of a wow factor, Asia de Cuba checks all the boxes. One of the essential brunches for 2016!

The low down

Asia de Cuba
(on the corniche opposite St Regis, Abu Dhabi)
+971 2 699 3333


Cleanser incl soft drinks and mocktails 325AED ++
Mojito incl mojitos and cocktails 425AED ++
Champagne incl all drinks above plus Taittinger 525AED ++


Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I was invited to try the Asia de Cuba Brunch courtesy of the restaurant. 









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