Viet Nam News
Order a mojito, try Ropa Vieja (“old clothes”), and swing to salsa at the Caribbean-flavoured Cuba - La Casa del Mojito. Viet Nam News samples the fare.
It’s no surprise that a restaurant specialising in cuisine from Cuba, a country with which Việt Nam has had nearly 60 years of good relations, is thriving right in the centre of HCM City.
However, ultimately, its reputation depends not on diplomatic connections but on achieving a winning combination of fine food, warm ambiance and friendly service.
In today’s highly competitive restaurant environment in HCM City, that’s not always an easy task.
But Cuba – La Casa del Mojito on busy Pasteur Street in central District 1 seems to have mastered the secret. It’s a favourite place for aficionados of Cuban fare, Cuban dancing and Cuban cigars.
But, first things first: the restaurant speciality, the mojito. How can you go wrong when you offer eight kinds of the Cuban cocktail known and loved the world over?
A delicious concoction of white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water and mint, the mojito (VNĐ110,000) can be addicting. You just might crave another and another.
If so, try one of the many other Cuban cocktails to find a new favorite.
With mojitos in hand, peruse the menu while sitting under a photo of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentine native who was a major figure in the Cuban Revolution (1956-59). Che, however, is not the only famous “son” whose presence graces the space.
Charles Lecomte, the manager and co-owner, who says La Casa is the first Cuban restaurant in Vietnam, hired an innovative Cuban chef Alexander Moreno Pujadas to design the entire menu and adapt recipes by using products found in Viet Nam.
One dish not to miss is Paella Habana (VNĐ150, 000), a medley of rice cooked with clams, squid and shrimp with vegetables, colourfully spiced with turmeric.
Also a standout is the Ropa Vieja (“old clothes” in Spanish) beef dish (VNĐ195,000), so named because the beef, shredded by hand, looks like old cloth after being cooked until fork-tender.
Boliche, a dish with beef sausages, and boiled eggs with melon are also worth a try.
And what would a Cuban restaurant be without music and dancing? Live Cuban or Latin bands play at 10pm every Friday and Saturday, while free salsa and bachata classes are offered every Monday and Thursday at 9pm, and samba classes every Wednesday at 9pm.
Besides the lively music and tasty food, the world-renowned Cuban cigars, rolled by an experienced Cuban expert with Cuban tobacco leaves (VNĐ300,000 to VNĐ1,500,000 per cigar), are for those who like to light up before or after dinner. Non-smokers should retreat to the second floor. — VNS
Cuba - La Casa del Mojito
91 Pasteur Street, District 1, HCM City
Hours: 3pm to late (2am closing)
Comment: Authentic Cuban cuisine, mojitos a speciality