El Oriental de Cuba
I was hoping to finally try Chacarero today only to realize that they are not open on the weekend! Therefore we headed on down to El Oriental de Cuba in Jamaica Plain for the first time. The restaurant itself was better than I had imagined. It has a lively atmosphere and the windows make the place bright and friendly. There are photos of Cuba and their entrees all over the walls.
I was bit overwhelmed by the number of items on the menu. There was no guide as to what the specialities where other than the cubano sandwich. We ordered a Mofongo for an appetizer as I had once ordered it while vacationing in Viejos San Juan. It was just as bland as I had remembered. I just don't like it and will hopefully remember to not order it again. The cubano, on the other hand, was fantastic as many here have written about. I hope to try the one at Chez Henri someday for comparison. We also had the seafood rice with crawfish, mussels, shrimp and fried plaintains. That was tasty. The chicken noodle soup was homemade and quite a good value. I tried both the flan and the sugar cream (?) for dessert. The sugar cream is made by boiling milk with sugar and cinnamon until it curdles. It's a akin to eating the top of an apple crisp. It was too sweet for my taste. I would have loved some tart apples to go with it!
The owner came out to talk to us and explained a bit about Cuban history to us. Cuba was once divided into several provinces with the eastern province being "Oriental" Hence, the name of the restaurant.
Next time, I will be better prepared and will try the ropas veijas (sp?) or shredded cuban beef and rice.