“Arroz y Frijoles and Asado in Asbury Park.”
Chris: We have been searching for a good Cuban Restaurant since moving to Monmouth County. Janine is passionate about this type of cuisine. The thought of slow cooked pork and black beans makes her Latin blood boil…
Janine: You see, my great grandparents were from Cuba. Some of my fondest childhood memories were spending time with them in the kitchen. Even to this day, the aroma of Café Bustelo coffee takes me back to those times.
Chris: Needless to say, she is picky and critical of Cuban food. Actually, the word “snobby” comes to mind. (Janine is nodding…).
Janine: A friend recommended Cubacan in Asbury Park. I was skeptical at first but figured it was worth a try. I kept suggesting it whenever we would decide to go out for dinner but other options always prevailed. It turned out to be a welcomed surprise
Chris: Cubacan is a spacious restaurant located right on the boardwalk. It supports a little night club/supper club scene. The bar and dance floor are strategically located to the right of the dining area. This enables the patrons to enjoy the music without having it overpower the dinner conversation.
Janine: For me, Tostones are the true measure of a good Cuban Restaurant. Tostones are twice cooked plantains that are smashed to look like a rustic potato chip. If they are limp and soggy chances are the rest of the meal will be equally disappointing. I grilled the waitress on this very subject as she approached to take our orders. “The Tostones are great!” she replied. She was right. The Tostones at Cubacan are GREAT!
Chris: Personally I don’t have too much experience with Cuban cuisine. My hunch is Cubacan’s interpretation is an Americanized version. Either way, good food is good food. I can safely say, the quality of product coming out of Cubacan’s kitchen is very good. The menu offers both classic dishes and new creations based on traditional cooking methods and flavor profiles. The food is prepared with precision and plated with care.
Janine: We ordered seafood ceviche and chicken empanadas as appetizers. The balance of citrus in the ceviche was just enough to cure the seafood without making it too rubbery or the dish too acidic. The chicken empanadas were perfect. Not too big, not greasy and filled with plump white meat chicken.
Chris: We stuck with the classics for our main courses. Janine ordered the Lechon Asada which is a traditional Cuban roast pork served with black rice, beans & yucca frita. I ordered Ropa Vieja which is Beef flank steak that is braised in a tomato-wine based broth along with sliced bell peppers, onions, Manzanilla olives and peas. Once cooked, the beef is shredded and incorporated back into the braising mixture.
Janine: Both dishes were as good as I remembered from childhood. The waitress offered us some of the restaurant’s homemade hot sauce. It was vinegar based condiment that provided just the right amount of kick to bring out the flavor of the food. It was fabulous.
Chris: The kitchen staff at Cubacan is not heavy-handed with the seasonings. I assume this is intentional because a clientele based in New Jersey probably has milder palates than those from Havana or Miami. The Hot sauce and other condiments available enabled each guest to add their own preferable level of heat.
Janine: For me, there is only one choice for dessert, Tres Leches cake. It is a thick slice of sponge cake that is soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream (Hence the name!). Rich does not even begin to describe it. A slice of Tres Leche and steaming cup of Cortadito and I’m in Heaven!
Chris: I was hooked after my first meal at Cubacan. Now I am the one who suggests it when we decide to go out to eat.
800 Ocean Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712