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Havana Jax, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 740

Essay

Havana Jax, in Jacksonville, Florida, describes their menu offerings as “Cuban-American Cuisine.” The décor of the restaurant is generic enough that it did not give me any real impression about how authentic the food would be, and our server was not particularly helpful in that regard, either. Because of the “Cuban-American” description, I was expecting a menu that featured items I would recognize as more “Americanized,” along with items that were more distinctly Cuban. Looking over the menu, however, it appeared to me that nearly all of the selections were fairly authentic, at least in terms of their descriptions and listed ingredients.

We began with an appetizer of Tostones con Chicharrones. Tostones are fried plaintain chips; they look very similar to banana chips, and have a similar texture, but they lack the natural sweetness of bananas. They are pounded flat and fried, and it was suggested that we add a bit of salt to them. The Chicharrones part of the appetizer was made from small pieces of fried pork. I read about this dish when I got home; while many of the descriptions I saw of traditional chicharrones indicates that it is typically made from pork rinds, the pork used in the Havana Jax version seemed too tender and juicy to be made from rinds. While I do not know for sure, this may be an example of a dish that Hava Jax has modified to better suit American tastes and expectations.

The pork tasted as if had been marinated in some sort of seasoning, which gave it a lemon-garlic flavor, and which made it very tender. If it was made from pork rinds, it may be that the juices or marinade used in the dish helped to tenderize the meat, as I would have expected fried rinds to be tougher, or even crunchy. There was a certain crispiness to the meat, but it was yielding on the inside. It was suggested that e try various hot sauces and salsas with the appetizer, but I skipped most of that, as I do not usually care for spicy foods. The preparation of the appetizer definitely seemed to use fresh ingredients, and did not seem to come from an assembly-line approach like one might see in a Chili’s or Applebee’s.

For dinner I had the Lechon Asado with Yellow Rice and Black Beans. I have actually had similar dishes before, so I more or less knew what to expect from this entrée. The pork is marinated and slow-roasted (it tasted similar to, but not exactly the same as, the marinade used for the appetizer). It was easy to tell that the pork had been slow-roasted, as I did not even need to use a knife to eat it; I could just crumble it with my fork. The Yellow Rice was tasty, though a bit salty. It had the texture of rice that had been freshly prepares; it stuck together slightly without clumping. There was nothing particularly noteworthy about it, but it was good. The same was true for the Black Beans; they were flavorful, but not any better than anything I had ever had before. Like the rice, they seemed to be freshly prepared, lacking the look of beans that have been sitting in cans for a long time.

My dining companion had the Arroz con Pollo, which is presented in a similar fashion to the presentation of the Lechon Asado: marinated pieces of chicken, slow roasted, and served with the Havana Jax versions of Yellow Rice and Black Beans. There are several ways to order this chicken dish (most notably with or without white meat); my dining companion opted for a leg quarter. I tasted a small bite of the thigh meat; it was clear that this chicken had been well-marinated, as it too was very tender. It did not fall completely apart the way the pork did, but it was clear that the flavors of the marinade had permeated the chicken mean throughout.

From the description of Havana Jax as “Cuban –American Cuisine,” I was expecting something less traditional, maybe along the lines of a Chili’s-style food prep and quality with a Cuban twist. Instead, I got what seemed to be a fairly authentic dining experience; most items seemed to be freshly prepared, and it was evident that a fair amount of prep time had gone into each selection. The menu items we tried all seemed to be fairly accurate representations of traditional Cuban dishes.

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