Going kosher in the Bahamas: Asian-Latino grill debuts at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar

 THE COLORFUL interior of Cinko. (photo credit: Grand Hyatt Baha Mar)
THE COLORFUL interior of Cinko.
(photo credit: Grand Hyatt Baha Mar)

The menu at Cinko, the Asian-Latino grill at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar resort on Cable Beach, offers more than the hip combination of Asian-South American flavors.

It also happens to be the first kosher restaurant in The Bahamas, which is something inherent in its name. As chef de cuisine and Lima, Peru, native Jerson Reyes explains, the restaurant is open five days a week and closed on Shabbat – thus, its Spanish name meaning “Five.”

But there’s still more to its name: It also represents the five cultures and tastes defining Cinko’s creative menu: Japanese, Chinese, Argentinian, Peruvian and Korean.

This approach is all a reflection of a concept that is very “trendy and current” in the United States and Europe, says Cinko’s executive sous chef Julio Acosta, another Lima native, who says Peru has an ardent passion for food.

“There’s a big influence and community of Asians living in Latin American countries,” he says, stressing their important influence on food culture.

The UAE's first kosher supermarket, RIMON (credit: JEWISH COMMUNITY OF THE UAE)The UAE's first kosher supermarket, RIMON (credit: JEWISH COMMUNITY OF THE UAE)

“There’s a big influence and community of Asians living in Latin American countries.”

Julio Acosta

In Peru, this culture was built across the centuries, beginning with the indigenous people and followed by the Spaniards, the Africans, the Chinese and the Japanese.

The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar’s kosher options are under the strict supervision of Rabbi Sholom D. Bluming of Chabad of The Bahamas.

Beyond Cinko, the kosher offerings also include Knosh, a dairy food truck positioned on the Hyatt beach with a vegetarian and pescatarian menu; breakfast- and lunch-to-go options; a full, sit-down Shabbat dinner at Cinko with fish, salad, soup and an entree, including a space to light Shabbat candles; and a to-go lunch box for Shabbat day.

Shabbat services take place at the Chabad synagogue, which is about a 10-minute walk from the hotel.

Of all the kosher offerings, Cinko’s Latin-Asian vibe seems to be the center of attention at the oceanfront resort. The restaurant’s creative menu includes “Small Bites,” like “Korean BBQ Taco” with beef bulgogi, bibb lettuce and kimchi slaw, or “Taco de Pato,” featuring roasted duck, flour tortilla, Chinese five spice, plum sauce, pickled daikon cucumber and aji amarillo.

Other menu categories include soups and salads, meat and fish, and rice dishes such as “Chaufa,” which profiles fried rice, seasonal vegetables, pickled daikon, salsa criolla, crispy quinoa, soy sauce and shitake eggs.

The “Grilled Meat Platter” for two features beef chorizo, lamb chops, ribeye steak and grilled chicken “pollada.” The item is served with house-made fries, seasonal vegetables and salsa.

Finally, there’s Ceviches/Crudos, which Acosta describes as “a lifestyle for us.” An example of one of these items is Ceviche Nikkei: big-eye tuna, ponzu, rocoto, cucumber, avocado, red onion and crispy quinoa.

Cinko can seat up to180 guests and has two island kitchens, one for sushi and another for hot dishes, so guests “can have a show” while dining, says Acosta, who adds that the response to the restaurant has been exceptional.

This is the first time that Reyes and Acosta have worked on a kosher menu, so some of the items proved rather challenging for them at first.

One of these in particular was substituting oyster sauce, which, of course, is a common ingredient in Asian cuisine. But as things turned out, the chefs were able to come up with their own kosher recipe for the classic sauce.

“The initial limitation… became our strength,” said Acosta.

For more details, visit https://bahamar.com/cinko-asian-latino-grill/

(The writer conducted interviews with the chefs over the telephone and did not visit the resort.)