Asia de Cuba in London’s Soho area, as the name implies, serves a delicious fusion of Asian and Cuban cuisine. My wife spotted that they had recently added afternoon tea to their menu so we had to give it a try. I wasn’t expecting it to almost blow my head off.
When we arrived, the found our table nicely presented with beautifully patterned cups and plates, and our tea strainers hidden inside what looks like a cigar box (making the most of the Cuban angle).
Unlike most afternoon tea menus, Asia de Cuba gives each customer two choices of tea: one to drink with the savouries and one with the sweets. This is unusually generous, especially since the teas we tried were all very good.
The savoury course began with a layered fruit juice drink as an aperitif. Starting from the bottom layer, the straw picks up kiwi, strawberry and then mango juice, with each layer sweeter than the last. It’s a great way to start.
Next was the Cubano pressed sandwich with BBQ pulled pork, and a couple of spring rolls containing a mixture of meats and vegetables. These were so much more interesting than the usual tea sandwiches (ham, cucumber, egg salad, smoked salmon). Yes, they were a novelty, but they were also expertly prepared and tasted fantastic. I especially liked the deep fried spring rolls with hot and sour chicken and avocado.
The savoury course was bolstered by sarouvy scones with mojito butter, and beef and vegetable empanadas. The scones were fantastic, with the mojito butter adding a great combination of flavours from the classic cocktail. The empanadas were deep fried to perfection, and served with spicy dipping sauce. And boy, is that stuff spicy!
Neither my wife nor I were prepared for how hot it was going to be, so we slathered rather a bit too much on to our savoury nibbles. This is when the aforementioned face-melting happened. Once we got over the shock, and took the sauce in a more sensible measure, it was delicious and complemented the empanadas especially well.
The sweets break from the mold almost as much as the savouries. The Mexican donuts with cinnamon sugar and butterscotch filling are incredibly more-ish; the banana spring rolls with white chocolate and coconut ganache are delightfully bonkers; and the chili chocolate cream with pistachio crumble is darkly smooth and crunchy in equal measure. The only weak link is the key lime pie with soft meringue, which tasted more of lemon than lime and seemed like it was topped with a out-of-place marshmallow.
I would definitely return to Asia de Cuba for afternoon tea. It will be at the top of my list of places to take people who don’t normally think much of afternoon tea. With some spicy ingredients, proper meat and plenty of deep fried nibbles, I can especially see this menu appealing to men who think regular afternoon tea is too dainty for their tastes.
Asia de Cuba gets my hearty recommendation. If you think you’ve tried every kind of tea in London, try Asia de Cuba for something a little bit different. Just watch out for that hot sauce.