Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer is here at Ideya Latin Bistro

Ideya Latin Bistro is a Caribbean latin restaurant which takes influences from many latin regions and giving its dishes a contemporary twist. The atmosphere was very lively and laid back, a great spot to chill out on a hot summer evening with your date or a group of friends. The restaurant was decorated with Caribbean murals, and cool colour tone such as white concrete and lime green walls.  In such a tropical setting, you almost feel like you're on a vacation.
Yay, something that's not just tortilla chips and salsa! The first batch of plantain chips and salsa is complementary.  While the second batch will cost you extra $4.50, you will probably be addicted right after the first bite and asking for more.  The plantain chips were crispy and fun to eat.  The salsa had bits of mangos in it and was freshly made.  We just couldn't stop eating them!
Mojitos and summer go together hand in hand like, as Jay-Z would put it, "Nike Air and crisp tee".  As Ideya is known for its specialty in mojitos, you cannot go there without ordering one.  The guava mojito ($12) was excellent.  It was refreshing, slightly sweet and tangy, not to mention stiff.
Our appetizer, pato de chocolate, or seared duck breast, chocolate, orange sauce and stewed leeks ($12) could've been an entree on its own.  With a little French cuisine influence, the dish was a combination of sweet and savoury.  The duck breast was tender, a hint of sweetness of the chocolate came through and toned down the gamey taste of the duck.
The second appie was bacalaitos, beer battered salt cod fritters with guava marmalade ($9).  The deep fried fish cakes had crispy, flakey, chewy texture.  The guava marmalade was sweet, tangy, and carried the fruity guava taste that I love.
A Salvadorean classic, papusa ($10) with roasted chicken stuffed corn masa cake refried bean puree topped with salsa and pickled cabbage.  While the traditional Salvadorean papusas are made with soft tortilla with soft, paste like filling, Ideya's version is more of a tower, much like a gordita.  I thought the masa cake, which was a thick cornmeal tortilla, was too thick and I wish there was more melted cheese stuffed inside since the bites were a bit too dry.
 Up next was chuleta a la diabla ($21), or grilled chipotle marinated porkchop with tomatillo (green tomato) sauce.  The flavours and smokiness of the marinated grilled pork really came through, although the pork was a bit over-grilled and tough to chew.  I loved the vegetables with tomatillo sauce, which wasn't acidic like red tomatoes and was like a lighter version with the savouriness of a gravy.
The meal was completed with a dessert, guava empanada $8 (I seem to have a theme going on here).  Ideya actually has a descent list of desserts to choose from; chipotle & chocolate cake with tomatillo sauce, ginger coconut float with ginger beer, coconut ice cream and molasses spice cookie, and a sundae with banana frita and spiced peacans.  Mmmmm they all sounded really tasty and exotic.  The empanada was really good.  It was very similar to an apple pie with a flakey pastry and caramelized fruit inside.  

Ideya offers not only variety, but also a contemporary flare in Latin cuisine.  I really enjoyed the mojito, exploring the menu, and trying out their dishes. Given the opportunity, I would return again for more plantain chips.

Ideya on Urbanspoon

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