Well this meeting definitely took me down memory lane of my solo trip to Cuba. I met with the charming Mr Raymond, the owner of CASA Panza BKK in his massive kitchen. A very interesting story emerged by conversing with Raymond as started this venture up as a fluke! NOW Casa Panza BKK is hitting Bangkok by storm!
I was in Cuba in October 2010. One of my most memorable trips as I went there alone and came back with incredible friends in just a matter of seven days. I stayed in an all inclusive in Varadero and took a day trip to Havana. When I came back from Cuba, I was sun-kissed and mesmerized by the gorgeous cuban island, rich with history, music, 57 chevy’s, politcal turmoil and most of all the love that people feel for their country!
Sitting in Raymond, AKA Mundy’s, extremely organized clean kitchen, well chaotic to others but a wonderful organized mess for Raymond, it felt like my grandmother’s casa!! It really felt like my casa!
If ya’ll want to know what Cuban cuisine is, it is a blend of African, Spanish, and other Caribbean cuisines. Some Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish and African cooking along with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor.
A typical Cuba meal would consists of rice and beans, a meat and some sort of pot vegetable (potato, yucca, or plantain). Ask any students what their Cuban Lunch consisted of and their answers will be (your Cuban-inspired lunch will contain beans, rice, vegetables, chicken and salad with avocado, cheese and plantains).
There are definitely many copies of Cubano sandwiches all over Bangkok however this one fits the bill perfectly! The soft supple mounds of the bread is made directly in his kitchen. With a sourdough starter this incredible tasting bread takes 18 hours to make, not an easy feat by any means. The way the sandwiches made with love and care in the most simplest and tastiest way, it went down very nicely.
Casa Panza BKK, is new and fresh in the Bangkok food scene, you have to thank Covid for this if there is one thing positive about Covid it would be this!
As I was sitting in the kitchen, Raymond was putting together the dishes that he wanted me to try and we were discussing how he got started with this concept to open Casa Panza BKK. His inspiration was his grandmother. She took the time to teach, gave him an amazing book on how to cook authentic Cuban cuisine and from that his experienced hands now create these deliciously simple tasty dishes. A tweak here and there and Voila!!
I remember eating a dish very similar to this in Havana, Cuba. One thing I know about Casa Panza BKK is that the quality of the ingredients and taste, hit the nail on the head!! Moreover, the way that it is served is exactly how they would do it in Cuba! Casual and simple, but packed with natural flavours. This is how to eat this authentic Cuban cuisine with full and happy bellies!
The tasty rice and beans, slow cooked beef (ropa vieja) marinated in its own juices as well as the chicken otherwise known as Vaca Frita de Pollo, shredded nicely which adds a good touch and flavour to the beans and rice. The yuquitas (casava root fries were the bomb – so awesome dipped in the fricasé sauce). Also, one last thing was the Tostnos which are flattened and fried green plantains, a very African-inspired dish. It added a light sweet taste to the overall food palate. Must Try!
Because of Cuba’s climate, tropical fruits and root vegetables (malanga, bonitas, potatoes, and my favourite the yucca) are incorporated in many dishes. A number of dishes include seafood as it is readily abundant on the island. Other popular starchy foods are plantains, bananas, and rice. Cuban American immigrant communities such as in Miami and surrounding cities, American influences are ever-present in Cuban food and recipes.
YUMMERZZZ …. Cuban espresso!! Now, where can you find Cuban food on this side of the hemisphere and of course Southeast Asia. NO WHERE! This is a good thing! Has been quite a long time since I’ve been to Cuba and I’m definitely wanting to go back and try other parts of the island. My heart is in Havana .. na na na!!
Thank you very much Mundy, it was such a joy to sit in your kitchen and have a nice long chat about your exploding amazing business!! I wish you all the best in your new endeavour. With your passion and experience in cooking authentic Cuban cuisine I know you’ll be very successful!!
P.S remember if you want a delicious Cubano sandwich make sure you let him know and order extra because of the length of time it takes to make this very tasty bread.
Gentle reminder this is take away only to make sure that you contact him via Facebook Instagram and enjoy!
Any guesses one what CASA Panza means? Put in the comments below!!
With Love and gratitude,