Asado Cucina Argentina
2810 6th Ave
If you got to almost any steak house in North America, if you order your meat well done and people will look at you with a certain degree of disapproval. However, if you choose to go to certain parts of the world, namely South America, specially Argentina, if you order a medium rare, probably they will look at you funny. In my case, I go with the overall general acceptance, except when it is a theme restaurant. And, similar to when I went to Che Pibe, a small Argentinian restaurant in a strip mall in Miramar, Fl, I had a good idea of what to expect. So, when you call yourself Asado Cucina Argentina, I had similar expectations: a good well done steak.
The day I went to Asado (for short for the rest of this post) it was one of those days when on business travel when after finishing the day with your on-site customer, you go back to the hotel and you still have to keep on working because of stuff at your office. I am willing to bet that pretty much everybody will say it sucks but, alas, that is part of the job. As a result, it was almost at the same time as my dinner the previous day at The Swiss but, unlike that time, I was sort of ready with the addresses of some places I wanted to visit. That’s when a sad reality hit me….
See, in Vancouver, we tend to complain a lot. If it is sunny, we complain it is too hot; we complain it is cold in winter despite it seldom snows, not to mention we complain about the “rain” (which is barely a drizzle, it does not really RAIN in Vancouver). Likewise, we complain about the night life in Vancouver. Well, while in Tacoma, after hours, there wasn’t even much pedestrian traffic in the Downtown area where I was staying! Now, it does not mean there aren’t things to do: for example, there is the Glass Museum (which I didn’t go as it was closed by the time I was off). And then there is a branch of the University of Washington a couple of blocks away (but, then again, it was summer so not much activity). What I am trying to say here is that, if you think you have it bad, believe me, there are places that could be worst… So what that has to do with my search for good eats? It just happens that in my list of places to go where a BBQ restaurant as well as a Southern restaurant. That night, it was barely 8:30 p.m. when I drove by both of them and both of them were close. Now, I had to put it into perspective: these restaurants were located in what looked like a “suburb” so, granted, after certain time of the day, there is almost no reason for you to stay open. As a result, for that night, I had to scratch item past item from the list and eventually ended up in Asado.
Considering the time of the day (not even mentioning the day itself), I wasn’t really surprised it was almost empty. But, given there was still a bit of sunlight, I chose to sit outside. Unfortunately, that ended up being a bad decision because between giving me the menu, taking my order and have it delivered to my table, it was dark outside. (sigh). Yes, this is a heads up warning the pictures will be subpar…
Now, as mentioned above, when it comes to steaks and Argentina, they have their own ways and that includes really heavy portions. Since I was seated outside, I didn’t really observe what was going on in the inside. But, when I was served plate, I was having doubts of their “authenticity”… Now, this has nothing to do with portion size (compare to what I had at Che Pibe) but what ended up on the plate. But first, what was served: their parrillada mixta, i.e., the mixed grill of skewered skirt steak, jumbo prawns and chorizo ($26) and, for the sides, I chose lentils.
From a side perspective, I also ordered a second side in the form of bacon leek butterbeans. I will have to admit, these were quite good. It had that legumes starchy-type consistency, which crumbles when bitten and then there was that bacon taste in it. Along with the lentils (which, I will admit I prefer them in a thick soup style), which had also a similar texture, overall, the sides were quite solid. I think I could have easily eaten a big bowl of either.
And that brings us back to the meats. Starting with the prawns which aren’t really captured in the picture above, it was giving me bad hopes. One word: rubbery… Now, it wasn’t almost jerk like rubbery; instead it was on the lines of being too chewy. Anybody who has cooked shrimp or prawns know that timing is key. If you go past a couple of seconds, you could have a soft, smooth texture to something chewy which is not as good tasting or appetizing. In this case, they cross that small line…
That bring us to the next meat: the chorizo… Let me ask everybody: how do you like or cook your wieners? In my case, I like them with a crispy exterior which has an effect similar to the “snap” of some sausages. This is usually achieved after boiling the sausage and then cook them on a pan with some oil. If you have had bangers and mash, that’s pretty much what I would expect from it. But, if it is chorizo, specially the Latin American version of a chorizo, I prefer the “cured” type and then grill it to crisp the exterior. Regardless, the one served here didn’t go either way; instead, it felt it was only boiled. C’mon, you could have done better! But, past that “issue” the “chorizo” had a nice mix of spiciness and meatiness. Just don’t compare it to the chorizo I grew up eating…
Finally, the skirt steak, which is a super set of the flank steak. So, if you have had fajitas, chances are you have tried it. It is one of those pieces where, if you manage to make it tender, it is a thing of beauty. Here, it was good in its own ways as it had a heavy meaty taste; except it was in skewered form. But, reality is I thought there was more potential to the cut if it wasn’t because it was cut a bit too “thick” and cooked to medium rare (though, for this one, I am the one at fault). See, there wasn’t anything wrong, just that again, I believe this isn’t the way an Argentinian steak should have been prepared! To make it killer, the chimichurri didn’t really add to the meat, which I found disappointing.
In the grand scheme of pictures, it goes back to the eternal issue of authenticity. In the caso of Asado, the meat was good in its own ways but it is not Argentinian. If it was, Gardel might be stirring in his grave. As for me returning… Nah, pass.