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Mar 11, 2013 04:34 PM

Oya's Cuban Cafe in Malden: get in there!

Just got home from a wonderful dinner at the recently opened Oya's Cuban Cafe. What an absolute treat and a welcome addition to Malden Center. Definitely on par with perennial Malden favorites and near neighbors, Exchange Street Bistro and All Seasons Table. At a similar price point, too.
We started with the scallops and fried pork belly appetizer. What a revelation! Perfectly cooked scallops over. The pork belly is crisp on the outside but meltingly unctuous on the inside rife with deep porky fat and flavor. All the richness cut by a (not too) sweet and smoky BBQ sauce.
Hubby had the Rancho Guajiro, slow roasted pork, sliced thin and topped with Cuban Mojo, and sautéed onions. It was served with black beans and rice and fried yucca.
My entree was the Bistec Encebellado, which consists of a 12 oz Sirloin strip steak, more Cuban Mojo and onions in a criollo style. A nice sour note to the sauce. The steak was cooked to medium (I asked for med-rare) with a nice char and good flavor. The steak came with a stack of tostones which were among some of the best I've ever tasted and the same black beans and rive that hubby had.
Presentation of food is quite lively.
Service was attentive and friendly. The interior space is really quite charming. Can't wait to go back for lunch!

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  1. Scallops and Crispy Pork Belly; Rancho Guajiro and Bistec Encebellado

    2 Replies
    1. re: UnclePH

      Uncle, thanks for the review and pictures, everything sounds and looks great.

      Is there any onsite parking? Malden is confusing and I'm heading there for dinner tomorrow night. Will be going around 5pmish...

      1. re: mcel215

        They don't have a parking lot but there is street parking on both sides of Exchange Street near the restaurant. There is also a parking garage a block away.

    2. I went there for lunch recently. Thought the chicken croquettes were really outstanding - hot and crispy outside, nice creamy (white-sauce-type) inside. The sofrito that was served alongside, though, was chilled; it had a nice flavor but I would have preferred it warm to go with the hot croquettes.

      My DC had the Minuta (fried cod) sandwich and we thought that was terrific, too. Really nice, light batter on the fish that didn't fall off when you bit into it. My Cubano had a decent amount of roast pork and the overall flavor was good, but the ham inside was still cold (even though the cheese had melted). Service was a little slow for a not-overly-busy lunch hour but the waiter was very friendly.

      Overall we liked it and will return. I'm glad that something nice went into that safe, I really miss Tivoli's. It looks like they kept a lot of the furnishings, though they took down the curtains - not really a plus IMO since the widow looks out onto the empty, cement block facade of the old Super Fitness building. Hopefully that view will improve when they build the new apartments slated for that site.

      1. I am so glad to hear this- we drove by over the weekend and I popped my head in- elegant space, very friendly staff- very much looking forward to trying it.

        1. Went back today for lunch. Enjoyed the croquettes again, and also tried the beef empanadas. They were deep-fried with a nice crispy shell; filling was ground beef with sweetish spices (cinnamon? cardamom?) and I spotted a yellow raisin or two. Very tasty, though to my taste they didn't need the sprinkle of salt on top.

          The hubs and I also shared an order of Arroz Imperial con Maduros, a tasty bowl of comfort food: yellow rice, chicken, cheese, tomato sauce, and sweet fried plantains. This was also on the salty side for my taste but hubs thought it was perfect.

          We were too full for coffee or dessert but the table next to us ordered Leche y Leche, a drink with condesned milk, coffee, and steamed 2%milk layered in a small glass. It was so pretty and I want one next time (might have to go back just for the coffee, the food is pretty filling).

          Service was noticeably faster than on our last visit, but not so that we felt rushed. I am hooked; I think they do a fine job with the fried foods, and I appreciate that the chicken in their menu items is not overcooked and dry. Looking forward to trying the rest of the menu.

          1. Went last night with my youngest son, around 6:30pm. There was no on street parking to be seen, even the whole empty parking lot at the out of business fitness place couldn't be used. It has "tow" signs all over it, what a a waste of good spots for at least 50 cars.

            We went into the Cafe, which was nearly empty. Not a good sign, but a gorgeous little room. The blue/brown decor was lovely, with live music that filled the space.

            We brought a couple bottles of beer, but was told by the owner that we couldn't consume liquor. They were waiting the final approval for their liquor license and we would have to wait until they sold liquor. He was very nice and apologized for any inconvenience. It was fine, we just drank water, which our waiter kept refilling over and over again. :)

            As above, we started with the scallop/pork belly app and it was delightful. They brought a basket of warm bread with a lucious compound butter, very fresh and delicious.

            My son ordered the lamb and said it was excellent. His was served with a saute of fresh vegetables and a square of sauteed polenta.

            I got the sirloin steak, asked for medium rare. It was medium, but it would be hard to get it right because the cut was very thin. I asked the waiter for advice, because I was torn between the salmon and the steak. He said that the steak was the best. And it was, very flavorful and juicy.

            There was a gal behind the small bar, with no bottles in sight and lots of glasses on the wall. There is a large flat screen TV, for people who wanted to watch. But it didn't interfere with the music, which played softly thoughout our dinner.

            We were too full for dessert and declined the coffee.

            The parking in the garage was $4.00 dollars and only a five minute walk.

            As we were leaving, a female opened the door for us and thanked us for coming. All of the waitstaff were extremely friendly.

            It appears to be a family run operation and hopefully they will get that liquor license soon, because I think that is the reason that the place was nearly empty. No one came in after we did and I believe only one other table was full.

            With good food and live music, this place could be a big hit for Malden.

            Dinner for two, with a shared appetizer, our bill came to only $56.00 without tip.