Free Dinner Party, Real Girls Don't Cook, at Asia de Cuba

As soon as someone hears the phrase real girls don't cook, an opinion is formed. Some might initially view it as a bit sexist --- women should be somehow affiliated with staying at home and cooking. Others, especially those who enjoyed a free dinner at the fabulous Asia de Cuba in the swanky Mondrian last week, see absolutely nothing wrong with the phrase.

Every Thursday night, Vitamin C Communications and the Mondrian invite dozens of beautiful women in the tri-county area to free dinner or drinks at Asia de Cuba. Anyone can sign up for the dinner party, called Real Girls Don't Cook, here, but only 20 are selected, while the many others -- up to 70 women -- are invited to free drinks and/or appetizers.

"People don't believe us when we tell them how many chicks [attend the events]," Vitamin C nightlife director Victor Gosa says. "It's a beautiful thing -- just a shame more men don't know about it."

Well, men, now you know. Every Thursday night, there are dozens of women who don't need any drinks or food on your tab. Watch out, though -- there are plenty of other ways to spend money at the Mondrian, such as on $350 handcuffs in the over-the-top luxury vending machine near the bathroom.

The photo request as part of the sign-up process might have some folks questioning once again, "How sexist is this thing?" According to Vitamin C cofounder Javi Zayas, being attractive won't hurt your chances, but knowing one of the promoters is the best way to get in. 

Melissa Rodriguez had the right idea, getting eight of her closest friends together for her friend Freddie Salbo's birthday -- at the expense of the Mondrian and Asia de Cuba.

"This is my third time here, and every time I have an awesome experience," Rodriguez told Short Order. "The food is really good, and the ambiance is gorgeous. My favorite is the Cuban barbecue chicken."

Along with Asia de Cuba's most popular dish, the aforementioned Cuban barbecue (above) with Thai coconut rice ($27), one other main course and two appetizers are prepared for every four guests. The theme -- Asian food prepared with a Cuban touch -- is evident throughout the complimentary menu. Diners start with the tunapica ($17, below) -- a picadillo-style tuna tartare served on a crisp wonton -- or delicious crab croquettes ($16) with jícama mango and mirin-infused slaw. In addition to the popular Cuban BBQ, also served as a main course is char siu beef short ribs ($36), slow-cooked and served with black-and-white rice and tostones.

Courtesy of Asia de Cuba

"My favorite was the crab croquette appetizer," said Jennifer Vasquez, who was enjoying the free meal for the first time. "I'll definitely be back."

After dinner, the crowd migrated to Haven on Lincoln Road at West Avenue, just six blocks north. Haven is known for its attention-grabbing liquid nitrogen cocktails and laid-back vibe. The party lasted till 5 a.m., with fresh organic small plates available for those whose appetite returned.

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