“Ceviche is so healthy and delicious.Try it once and you’d love it forever!” Unknown
Imagine a beautiful summers evening, views out across the Arabian Gulf from the whitewashed Miami style deck and you have just imagined the setting for the bloggers ceviche masterclass at the stunning Asia de Cuba restaurant located at the Nation Rivera Beach Club, part of the St. Regis Hotel. I am a massive fan of this exciting upscale beachside concept that has successfully transposed itself from other worldwide locations in to the hearts and minds of the people of Abu Dhabi, attracting guests in their droves to enjoy its outdoor terrace and intoxicating vibe. The lure to hangout at the terraced bar area will diminish as it closes during the summer heat so Asia de Cuba will have to rely on its modern Chino-Latino menu, its impeccable attention to detail and immeasurable service. I really don’t foresee that as a problem as they have built up a cult following in such a short space of time.
Back to the masterclass, for those unfamiliar with South American cuisine ceviche, available in various varieties from the restaurants small plate menu, it’s typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime and spice is added usually by the addition of chopped chilli. After a round of refreshing welcome Buena Vista cleansers (a delicious mix of rhubarb, passion fruit and pineapple), we gathered at the ceviche bar where head Chef de Cuisine Phillip Harbin presented us all with ribbon-tied recipe scrolls (shared below for those who want to try making it) before he and his trusty sous Chef Pepe ran us through the art of making fresh and tasty Ceviche de Pescado (raw fish cured in lime juice).
The white fish (such as Red Snapper) is chopped into pieces and put in a bowl where the acidic citrus juice (in this case lime) effectively cooks the chopped fish without using heat, turning the flesh from translucent pink to opaque white. Thai chilli, jalapeño, red onion and cilantro (you say cilantro, I say coriander) is mixed with the fish to give you ceviche. Asia de Cuba’s ceviche is served garnished with Leche de Tigre (Tigers Milk aka the juices from the fish mixture), cilantro and flower petals, accompanied by the most amazing salted plantain chips or tostones, which are a favourite of mine to order with drinks too. Good news for those not so keen on fish like myself, there is a vegetarian Mushroom ceviche with ginger, jalapeño and snow peas.
Harbin talked us through the process of making the chips, taking the green plantains, otherwise known as potatoes of the air or cooking bananas (fruit of the Musa Paradisiaca, a type of banana plant that need to be eaten cooked not raw like the standard household banana) that are first soaked, then peeled, sliced and cooked in very hot oil and seasoned with salt to taste, yum yum yum!
Harbin has been at the helm of Asia de Cuba since its launch working with the innovative menu created by Cuban born global executive chef Luis Pous, who I had the privilege of meeting at the fabulous media launch night back in January. Once the masterclass was finished and copious amounts of photos were taken both inside and outside (and I mean of photoshoot proportions), all our social media was updated and awash with our experience, we returned to the seated lounge area to enjoy some of the cross-cultural influenced food that has its roots in Havana and the Asian influence on Cuban food from El Barrio Chino de la Habana (Havana’s Chinatown), one of the largest and oldest in Latin America. We of course had some of the ceviche as well as two varieties of empanadas, vegetarian Black Bean with Plantain and Wagyu ‘Ropa Vieja‘ both served with their own style of sweet and sour sauce, my favourite Goats Cheese fritters and some Tuna Picas. As it was now past 6pm, I and some of my fellow bloggers felt it was acceptable to enjoy some mojitos, purely for research purposes of course.
This fabulous restaurant, lounge and bar concept offers a Friday brunch that showcases the chef’s signature menu and is available in three packages; the non-alcoholic cleanser brunch, the bloody Mary brunch where guests have the opportunity to ‘Make your Own Bloody Mary’ from a selection of house-infused vodkas, signature hot sauces, house pickled vegetables, infused salts, and Cuban inspired spices and the Taittinger Brut Champagne option (click here for full Brunch menu).
This coming Ramadan, a Chino-Latino four-course menu infused with Arabic flavours will be available from sundown crafted by Chef Harbin and Chef Pous especially for the Holy Month. From fast breaking sun-dried fruit and nuts, as well as goat cheese, pistachio and cardamom Stuffed Dates, there will also be such delights as Lamb Chops, Beef Kebabs and Bread Pudding with Orange Blossom Honey Cream on the menu and everything featured is diverse and flavourful (click here for full Ramadan menu)
Thank you Chef Harbin and Asia de Cuba for a lovely event which was most enjoyable (as you can see from the photo below). This sophisticated yet vibrant venue has attracted the cool crowd and it’s one of the most busiest locations in the city with the best ambiance, it’s most definitely the place to be in Abu Dhabi right now and has already been awarded Best New Nightspot 2015 by Time Out Abu Dhabi. I’m sure the vibe will be recreated once the summer heat has cooled off and I for one will be there sipping on a delightful gin based Floradora on Holiday cocktail.
Asia de Cuba
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 12:00 noon ~ 2:00am
Location: Nation Riviera Beach Club, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi
Telephone: 02 699 3333
Read more about Asia de Cuba in my previous post Restaurant Review: Asia de Cuba
Ceviche de Pescado by Asia De Cuba
113g White Fish, cut into slices
4g Cilantro, chopped fine
1g Thai Chili
4g Red onion
15ml Lime Juice
3 Plantain Chips
(Salt to taste)
Place all of the fish, cilantro, Thai chilli, red onion and lime juice in a stainless steel bowl. Toss all of the ingredients together and adjust seasoning. Reserve for plating
Peel and slice the plantains lengthwise 1/8th of an inch thick, deep fry until golden brown
Pick 2 sprigs of a bunch of cilantro
Place the ceviche on the plate and drizzle with Leche de Tigre marinade. Garnish with plantain chips and cilantro
I was invited to attend this event but all the views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Photo 6 used courtesy of Asia de Cuba/TohPR and photo 7 courtesy of TFH.