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Nov 13, 1999 01:35 AM

Asia De Cuba or Crustacean

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I'm following up on my previous message. Thanx for your input. I might skip Sushi Roku and Matsuhisa altogether. I want to hear your thoughts on Asia and Crustacean

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  1. I did not intend to respond to your question, since I haven't eaten at either place. But I notice that you haven't received any response at all and, although my information is second-hand, I thought I'd at least pass it on for what it's worth (perhaps not much!). First, though, some preliminary comments. In your first post, you mentioned that you were looking for a place to go on a date. So, it really depends on what you think will make your date enjoyable. Michael S., for example, responded to your previous post with the suggestion that you might "have much more fun" at Roku, even though the food at Matsuhisa is better. If your date isn't that much into food, and responds mainly to atmosphere and is impressed by going where the beautiful people hang out, then your choice is going to be much different than if that isn't the case. Crustacean and Asia de Cuba are both, by reputation at least, glitzy, trendy types of places. Crustacean has a waterfall on an exterior wall, and a koi stream wandering through the interior. The food at Crustacean is described as "Euro-Asian." Those who have eaten there tell me that the food ranges from bad to neutral. Asia de Cuba, the L.A. branch of the New York restaurant of the same name, is in the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Blvd., home of the Sky Bar (speaking of where the beautiful people hang out!). For a date, a table with a view in the outside garden of Asia de Cuba seems romantic enough. The fusion at Asia de Cuba, as the name suggests, is Asian and Latin. Unlike Crustacean, the reports I've received on the food at Asia de Cuba have been pretty good. So based purely on second-hand sources, I'd say that the nod goes to Asia de Cuba on a combined score for both atmosphere and food.

    If you are interested in a non-glitzy little place with good "Euro-Asian" food, I'd recommend Nouveau Café Blanc on Little Santa Monica, just before it runs into Wilshire. This is a small, spare, quiet space where you can have a conversation without yelling (if that's important), and the food, prepared under Tommy Harase's direction, is great. The small but well selected wine list is reasonably priced, as is the corkage fee if you want to BYO. If, on the other hand, your idea of a "date place" is a splashy, noisy room and you want fusion cuisine, I'd suggest Wolfgang Puck's Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. If you go there, be sure to order the foie gras in pineapple-ginger sauce. And if your date doesn't like it, dump her!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Tom Armitage

      Neither Asia de Cuba nor Crustacean are my idea of a good time either. Crustacean is a particularly smarmy Vietnamese place with an actual ``river'' running underneath the floor and a menu featuring gritty, overgarlicked, overcooked and stupendously priced seafood from its ``secret kitchen.'' Wildly popular for some reason, although a friend of mine noted that Crustacean may be Vietnamese dialect for ``Red Lobster.''Asia de Cuba is just silly--banana in the calamari salad--alsowildly overpriced, and adjacent to the supermodel hang Sky Bar, which would render it pretty much out of the question for a first date, unless you are willing to tolerate head-wrenching stares. If you're determined to go Asian fusion, try Tahiti, which also isn't great but is at least stylish and friendly. Or Vida, in Los Feliz, where the blendo-o-rama cuisine is generally fine.

      1. re: j gold
        Jessica Nemeroff Ritz

        Right on with the Red Lobster analogy. Beverly Hills Orientalism at its worst. Sleazy crowd, food blander than what one would find from the kitchen of a hotel ballroom, and impersonal service. The most fun part of the evening was trying to determine whether the young blond with the older guy and his two younger daughters seated at the next table was the eldest child or the girlfriend. Not a rare situation in LA. Anyway, as for ADC, my neighbor had a date there a couple weekends ago and reported that the Scene was nauseating, the noise level intolerable, and food oversauced, inexcusably sloppy, and the kitchen chintzy with the meats and fish. (the Mondrian has changed quite a bit since I had my bat mitzvah there in the 80s.) Even if Vida's not super fabulous, the far less glitzy and cozier Los Feliz vibe is much more comfortable and weighs less on the image-consciousness scale.