Seoul’s food landscape is forever changing and in the 6 years that I’ve lived here, the change has been remarkable. Over time the city has become more and more international and there are very few foods you can’t get these days. A few months ago, Seoul’s first Cuban restaurant was opened in Sinchon. The owner and chef is Cuban Augusto Cesar Calzadilla, and he kindly invited me to come and try his food. I’ve never been to Cuba or eaten any Cuban food before so my interest was instantly piqued. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but my first thought was that it would be similar to the food we ate while travelling in South America, and after a little research I found out they did some excellent Cuban sandwiches. So off we went to give it a try.
The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of a building in a long alley not too far away from Sinchon station. The restaurant is lovely and large so would be great for big groups. We took a seat and scanned the burgeoning menu. Before I can even contemplate the food, I always need to order myself a drink. The menu has a lot of cocktails on offer and a mojito (8,500) is always in my top 3 favourites, so I couldn’t wait to see how they did them at Little Cuba. Augusto told me that he brought the mint seeds with him to grow himself as the Korean mint here just isn’t up to par. Although he probably wont be able to make these now that the snow has set in and killed off his plants. The mojito tasted just right, and was perfectly balanced, although I was sad to see no crushed ice, as that always makes it for me. Overall though they tasted great though and I’d definitely order another. They had a few other drinks on the menu I would love to try including a Pina Colada served in a pineapple.
After having a look at the lengthy menu we were recommended to try the Cuban Sandwich (9,900). Stuffed with two kinds of ham, cheese, pickles, and served in a panini. I’ve never had one before and am not usually overly keen on ham but this was a good sandwich, tasty and well balanced. Augusto told me that he makes the boiled ham himself to make it as authentic as possible. You can have it by itself as we did or as a set with a drink and fries.
As soon as I saw the words ribs on the menu I had to try then. The Costilla (10,500) is a fantastic plate of food for such a cheap price. Served with rice and salad it reminded me of my days travelling around Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru eating at small family restaurants and ordering chicken platters which always came with rice and salad. Although the food was simple it just tasted good and invoked a dose of nostalgia. The ribs were soft and tender in a tasty gravy, the rice was cooked perfectly. The homemade dressing on the salad was delicious. Unbeatable for the price!
We also tried the Picadillo (9,400), a ground beef dish which was very good indeed. I guess a kind of Cuban take on a chilli con carne is how I would describe it. Served with rice and salad, it was nothing fancy but good honest food. We didn’t leave a morsel on the plate and we really enjoyed it. It certainly a great dinner to fill you up on a cold night.
The food at Little Cuba is just good wholesome homemade cooking. Cheap, tasty, and filling. For those looking to try something new, and don’t like anything too frou frou, it’s perfect.
We visited on a Tuesday night just after it opened so it was fairly quiet, but I’m sure it’s got quite the party atmosphere on the weekends, so get ready to bring your A game and dance to some Latin beats.
Little Cuba is located at 52-157 Changcheon-dong, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sinchon station and come out of exit 2. Walk straight for about 200 metres until you see a rail bridge over the road. Take a left just before you reach the bridge. Little Cuba is on your left a little way down this small street. For more information you can call on 02-333-0306 or check out their facebook page.