Written by Hulda Lawrence
with M.J. Boyer

Past Reviews

Asia de CubaAsia de Cuba, at 237 Madison Avenue at 37th Street, (212) 726-7755, has been luring in those who want something different in a sleek, sophisticated setting with a cuisine that melds the best in Asian and Latino foods. We entered from the bustle of midtown Manhattan through a business-like exterior and were enveloped by gauzy folds of fabric. As the folds parted, we glimpsed a two-story interior with tables set decorously around a central point. The focus is a 34-seat table to which many congregate. Private nooks for twos or more are available. The upper level has a Rum Bar with bottles from all over the world; most are set at prices from $9, but Pyrat Cask 23 from Anguilla is $40.

As soon as we were seated our waiter, Cody from Texas, brought menus and made suggestions on food and drinks. With rum as an important feature, we chose two specialty house drinks: a Mojito of Bacardi, Limon, Fresh Mint, Soda and a splash of Gosling Rum for my companion and a Mai Tai of Appleton Rum, Martinique Rum, Almond Syrup and Tropical Fruits for me. Soon, we were in the right mood to consider the menu. Other specialty drinks include Mambo King - champagne with Stoli Vodka with the rim of the glass dipped in grenadine and sugar cane; Blue Cuban - Cruzan Pineapple Rum, Blue Curacao and tropical fruit juices topped with coconut; Cuban Sunrise - three Bacardi rums, pineapple juice and grenadine; Gingerade - Bacardi Limon, fresh ginger, ginger beer and lemon; Margarita 43 of tequila, Liquor 43 and fresh lime, no salt; and, for the daring, Scorpion - a bowl filled for two with two rums, brandy, orange juice and almond syrup or Riki Puka Puka - Bacardi Limon, Dark Appleton Rum, Bacardi Light, Cointreau, lime juice and tropical juices. These drinks for two are $26. The other drinks are $10.50 to $12.

As one sips a refreshing drink, there are some fine appetizers from which to choose. Our choices were Crab Croquetas of jicama, mango, green apple and mirin-infused slaw, roasted red pepper remoulade and chili ponzu dipping sauce. This was a very spicy dish and very tasty too, at $24. Most dishes are meant to be shared; the portions are large. Our second appetizer was a marvelous Thai Beef Salad of seared carpaccio of spicy Thai beef with avocado, shredded coconut, orange segments and Asian greens with a hot and sour dressing. Not only was this delicious, it was a picture in presentation: the greens were centered on the plate of thinly sliced beef in a turret-like shape at $19.

Other appetizers include Tunapica, tuna tartare with Spanish olives, black currants, almonds, coconut and won ton crisps; Lemongrass Skewered Chicken; Oxtail Spring Roll; Asian Pesto Grilled Shrimp and Calamari Salad. Appetizers are $18 to $26.

Portions are generous and after our delicious first courses we knew that one entree would be more than sufficient for the two of us. Our choice was a wonderful Cuban Spiced Chicken presented on a banana leaf and accompanied by marvelous coconut sticky rice and avocado fruit salsa with a divine tamarind sauce. We could not resist a side dish of Lobster Boniato Mash that was fluffy and good.

Other entrees include Pan Seared Black Bass with Chilled Asian spiced watermelon and cucumber gazpacho, Grilled BBQ Salmon, Grilled Chipotle Glazed Strip Steak, Palomillo of Marinated Lamb and Honey-rum Glazed Pot Roast of Pork. A Tofu Tasting is $23 and the entrees are $29 to $58 for Lobster Mai Tai. Side orders are $8 to $13.

With our entrée we had Chateau St. Jean, Chardonnay 2002, Sonoma County, California and Niebaum-Coppola "Diamond Series" Syrah 2001 from Oakville, California. Each is $12 per glass. A full listing of wines and sakes as well as liquor is available.

We were so enjoying the ambience and our food, but felt we should at least taste the dessert menu. Coconut Invasion, a superb coconut layer cake with coconut ice cream and warm chocolate sauce and Asia de Cuba Flan infused with vanilla, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves were our choices. There are other desserts, including Bay of Pigs banana Split Asia de Cube style.

For an enriching experience, with a cuisine not so familiar to us, Asia de Cuba is the place to visit. It is set in Morgans Hotel and combines Asian flavors with cooking techniques of home-style cuisine. Private rooms are available for functions.

Hours: Dinner: Sunday through Wednesday 5:30 to 11 p.m.
Thursday through Saturday 5:30 to 12:30 p.m.
Lunch: Monday through Friday: noon to 5 p.m.
Credit Cards: Visa, Master Card, American Express and Diners Club
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes
Dress: Casual
Price: $$$

Bubba GumpAt the corner of Broadway at 1501, between 43rd and 44th Streets, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is installed. This spot's phone number is 212 391-7100. Visitors enter on the ground level through a souvenir shop where all kinds of toys and shrimp-inspired items are for sale. Then, one climbs a short flight of stairs to the restaurant proper.

We were seated at a table overlooking Broadway and noted the large number of family groups enjoying the food and the rather noisy musical background. Our waiter, Henry from Pittsburgh, brought the large menus and pointed out the special lists of exotic drinks which are often described as "hand shaken." We began with Tango Madness, a combination of orange juice and vodka and Medal Margarita with tequila, cointreau and other things. For an extra fee you can take home the glass in which the drink is served. Other choices include Delta Sunset, Louisiana Lemonade, Lava Flow, Bayou Surprise, Southern Charm and Greenbow Calypso. All of these drinks combine fruit juice and hard liquors, although plain fresh juices are available with prices from $6.95. There also are smoothies and quenchers which are non-alcoholic with names like Run Forrest Run and Jenny's Favorite.

Appetizers were brought to company our drinks, and the most impressive was a tower of delicious Onion Rings with dipping sauces at $7.29. Bubba's Far Out Dip of mixed red pepper, artichoke, Monterey jack cheese and spinach was hot and good at $7.99. A bevy of shrimp appetizers also is ready.

For our main dishes, we appreciated Shrimp New Orleans, served with fine garlic bread and a great coleslaw at $16.79. We also shared some Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp with Cajun marmalade, coleslaw and French fries at $17.29. Shrimp is done in many ways - with pasta, fajitas, fried, stuffed with crab and by the bucket to peel and dip. With our shrimp, we had cold beer and cabernet wine. This is a place for fun food. The shrimp comes in a variety of ways and, fortuitously, rolls of paper towels grace each table.

For those who prefer other foods, there are Fish & Chips, Fried Chicken, Rib-Eye Steak, Baby Back Ribs, Mahi Mahi and some great chicken salads. Hamburgers, BBQ Pork Sandwich and Dixie Fishwich are available. Texas Style Chicken Sandwich of grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, melted pepper jack cheese and guacamole on a toasted bun is $9.99. Shrimp Po Boy is $10.49.

Could we have dessert? Well, Key Lime Pie was great and we loved Alabama Mud Pie done with caramel, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and crunchy peanuts on chocolate and vanilla ice cream with Snicker chunks. Gumpberry Cobbler of berries and apple with raspberry drizzle and walnut cookie crumb topping is another goodie. A final delicious drink is Hot Irish Mist of Bailey's Irish Cream with amaretto, hot coffee and whipped cream at $7.95.

This a place the kids will love, but adults find the menu great for lunch or supper.

Hours: Open every day all day
Credit Cards: All major
Dress: Very, very casual
Wheelchair Accessibility: elevator available on first level Price: $$

The Restaurant Revue Ratings

The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.

$ Inexpensive $25
$$ Moderate $50
$$$ Expensive $100
$$$$ Very Expensive $150

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