Asia de Cuba
Deciding that I mustn’t be the last member of New York’s illustrious glitterati to show off the exploits of a recent Milan shopping spree at Asia de Cuba, the Philippe Starck-designed Cuban-Asian fusion hot spot, I ventured into the certifiably buzzing mise en scène last week with high expectations and a Prada suit with a custom-sized neck hole and an extra interior pocket for my colostomy bag.
I have to admit, though, once my personal nurse Greg mashed the ginger and chili red-snapper frittatas into a paste fine enough to fit through my rubber feeding hose, I came to the immediate conclusion that Asia de Cuba indeed deserves its reputation as more of a glorified fashion catwalk than a serious dining mecca. These were far from the fragrant and exciting frittatas of coastal Cuba, which I remember fondly from my early childhood days spent at the Havana Experimental Clinic for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder.
More exciting, but still inexplicably overpriced at $22, was the grilled asparagus with peanut sauce. Since my body cannot process the high oxygen content of asparagus, Greg held up the dramatically presented appetizer to my scent-synthesis chamber. It’s possible that I merely needed a filter change, but the only scents I picked up were those of dense charcoal and burning metal.
To be fair, Greg certainly seemed to enjoy the lemongrass-infused pork roast, favorably comparing the dish to the Arby’s we regularly feed him. In the interest of full disclosure I should note that Greg also enjoyed oral pleasure in the front seat of our customized minivan from a rather comely busgirl, an act I was thankfully not forced to witness, as Greg kindly covered the bubble with one of his gym T-shirts.
After ascending the four floors necessary to reach super-chef Masayoshi Takayama’s new temple to raw fish, Masa, one is immediately struck by the sublime understatement of the foyer that beckons you further, hinting at the unparalleled sensory journey that awaits. Well, this is the sentiment Svetlana, a part-time model and my date for the evening, expressed to me over our amuse bouche of belly tuna with blue corn and wasabi glaze. Your reviewer was forced to suffer the quiet indignity of riding the service lift when my breathing apparatus wouldn’t fit through the absurdly narrow doors of the main elevators.
All was forgiven, however, as soon as the perfectly attentive yet appreciably unobtrusive wait staff brought out the halibut-and-eel ravioli, a dish so uncompromising in its devotion to purity of flavor that for a brief moment I understood the sensation of fresh air. Actually, I should inform my readers that a network of hydrated filters and custom-tuned gauges continuously keeps the air inside the bubble identical to the sea breeze of Phuket, which both preserves my trademark boyish complexion and reminds me of my halcyon days of youthful exuberance in the mid ’90s.
Each of the nearly dozen plates of expertly prepared fish complemented each other perfectly; the sea-bream aftertaste of the yellowtail sashimi still lingered on my tongue as I gluttonously sucked the velvety flesh of the yellow clams through the feeding hose. Somewhere midway through my dinner I had the sudden realization that my relationship to fish had been forever altered, and only within Masa’s hallowed chambers could I ever again touch the blessed fruits of the deep sea. Svetlana herself claimed to have experienced some sort of epiphany, though this may have had more to do with the Ambien and Percoset she crushed and snorted in the van on the ride over.
At $350 per person, an evening at Masa is certainly an investment to be seriously pondered for those without egregiously large disposable incomes, such as those gained through royalties from a particular episode of Seinfeld and an unfortunate John Travolta movie. And for that money, I certainly thought Svetlana could have been a bit more keen on the threesome idea with our kimono-clad hostess.
In a nod to the quiet elegance of London’s fine and hallowed tradition of private clubs, the owners of New York’s exclusive Soho House have constructed their members-only restaurant and lounge with an eye toward discretion and quality. Some seclusion is nice when you have a combination of 38 antibiotics, vitamins, and anal suppositories to take with every meal.
I took advantage of the fleeting moments of privacy and calmly began the evening by hotboxing the bubble with some excellent Moroccan hash provided by my literary agent and dining companion for the evening. With a minimal amount of tampering I can fashion quite the water pipe out of my air-intake tube, but that’s really a story for another time.
The menu, made up largely of expertly executed bistro classics, is a welcome relief from the misguided experiments in absurdity served at Soho House’s less venerable neighbors in New York’s version of Disney World, the Meatpacking District. Quite serendipitously, my blood monitor started beeping just as we began to order, making my choice of the iron-rich steak frites even more appropriate. The only unpleasantness of the otherwise relaxing evening came when an overly eager waiter offered to serve me my crème brûlée, mistakenly spooning the creamy dessert into my breathing tube. Three days later I am still periodically inhaling shards of caramelized sugar, although I suppose that is a hazard that comes with my adopted profession.
While thoroughly satisfied with my meal, I can’t help but think that if Soho House wishes to truly consider itself a haven for New York’s artistic elite and titans of industry, then management must undergo a serious reexamination of their membership policy. I understand that I may not be the international megastar I might have been a few years ago, but that does not mean I should be made to endure the ignominy of bumping into Ian Ziering on the way back from the restroom.