Monday, February 28, 2011

Habana's: Cuban Food

To round out a long day roaming about the East Bay, Matt and I decide to finally pay a visit to Habanas in Alameda. I've heard some really great things about their mojitos (and they have pitchers of mojitos too!), which is incentive enough to go. But most every weekend night we drive by Habanas there seems to be hoards of people at the bar and waiting for a table. Suffice it to say, I was curious as to what all the fuss was about.

Yes, mojitos! Like I said, it's a Habana's specialty and I just love the fresh, clean flavor of mint and lime. Not to mention it tastes like juice...which I guess makes this a rather mischievous drink.

Shrimp Ceviche
I was underwhelmed. After going to Matt's local Border's store closing sale (in an attempt to stock up on cookbooks for 20% off) and stumbling over a ceviche book, we decided to eat here. But, this turned out to be more of a salsa than a ceviche. I'm almost certain that I can count the number of shrimp they put in here on one hand. And they were cut up so small that you could hardly tell if you got a bite with shrimp or not. If it were a salsa, I'd give it two thumbs up, because I really have nothing bad to say about the flavor. However, to my recollection, it was a shrimp ceviche, and it barely had any shrimp.

Fried Plantains with Pineapple Salsa
They're my weakness. I don't know why, but every time we eat somewhere with plantains on the menu, I instantly gravitate towards it. In this particular instance, they don't stray too far from eating rice or potatoes as they are incredibly filling. And the only real flavor they've got is a subtle, and by that I mean VERY subtle, sweetness. But with that pineapple salsa on top, I could call it a meal.

I guess the type of plantains I was after are the softer, more caramelized kind. The kind that soothes a spice from a blacked catfish or a jerk chicken with tons of scotch bonnet peppers or the kind that cuts through the fattiness of a large hunk of braised pork. Akin to that of Eva's in Laguna beach or Felix in Orange.

Although these were good, they didn't satisfy my plantain craving. But even knowing this, I'm almost certain that if we came back here again, Matt would have to drive a hard bargain to talk me out of ordering this.

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri
Anything with chimichurri on it, I will eat. I think our obsession with it arose after eating at a Peruvian restaurant that served a large tube of green sauce with their bread. Which we fell in love with and later found out that it was chimichurri, the thing that we've heard so much about on...Food Network(?). This particular chimichurri was okay. I prefer ones with a little more kick and a little less creaminess. Matt and I've made our own version of chimichurri before--the recipe can be found here--which turned out really well and tasted almost identical to the one we fell in love with at Inka's in Irvine. After making our own large squeeze tube on it, we quickly became obsessed with chimichurri and put it on almost everything...and to our surprise (or not surprise) it tasted good on pretty much everything.

Pork Skewers
And what would a dinner be without pork...on a stick?

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