Istanbul’s first Cuban-themed restaurant is now in Asmalımescit. From its name to the food, the decorations to the music, everything can be traced back to Cuban origins. As is typical to most of Asmalımescit’s restaurants, here you’ll find brick walls, retro patternedtiles, rooms within other rooms, giant colourful ventilation ducts, and wooden tables and chairs. Additionally, the Cuban flag and map, and Havana Club signboards decorate the walls and Cuban music plays constantly in the background.
The salads and pastas are pretty much what you’ve come to expect, though there are numerous items on the menu worth your attention. Listed under the heading ‘With beer’, the chicken wings with Caribbean sauce, fries with Havana/Trinidad/var adero sauce; La Guarida style black bean soup; oven-baked crispy nut loaf, the pizza-like ‘on bread’, topped with meat/chicken/sucuk (Turkish pepperoni) /sausage/ cheese/ vegetables/ seafood; chicken with plum sauce; steak with onions (with rice and avocado sauce), chilli con carne; and as dessert, Caribbean cheesecake, baked banana, cuba cotta and el Havana, are all dishes you’re unlikely to come across elsewhere. The servings are filling while the presentation is meticulous. If you’re after something to draw the attention of the entire table, order the el Havana—fruit salad and ice cream served inside a bowl made of chocolate.
The drinks menu is satisfyingly diverse, the main feature of which is the Cuba mojito (made with a secret recipe and different to anything you’ve tried before). Other cocktails include the president (rum, white vermouth, orangecuracao, grenadine), canchanchara (rum, honey, lemon juice, crushed ice), papa Hemingway (red vermouth, rum, crushed ice, grated lemon).
Customers can no longer smoke the Cuban cigars offered to them inside, having to now wait till they’ve gone outside. After dinner the tables are moved aside and the restaurant is transformed into a bar and quickly filled with cool and relaxed people.
Ensiz Sokak 11/1A, Asmalımescit
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 11.00-03.00; Fri-Sat 11.00-04.00.|