Everybody, we’re on the Upper West Side. 78th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. To my right, is a sign that says La Uniqua Caridad Restaurant. Cuban-Chinese. It’s a combination that you’ve probably not thought to put together in your head as far as food, or anything else. But Cuban-Chinese restaurants,
there are a lot of them, or were a lot of them in Manhattan. They will have traditional Cuban food like rice and beans, ropa vieja. They’ll also have kung pao
chicken and wonton soup. And they’ll have things that
are traditionally Chinese or Chinese American and
sometimes they’ll mix the two to create something that
you’ve never ever had before. You don’t see a lot of
it in New York anymore and it’s one of the things
that makes the city, which is so known for its
diversity exactly what it is. So we’re going to head over there now. We’re going to try some of this food. I can’t wait. Let’s go. (speak Chinese) This is just so, this is so fascinating. Yes. We are at a Cuban-Chinese restaurant. That’s right. Clement has has worked
here for over 30 years. Uh-huh. Yeah, I, full uncle from Cuba. They come here after
Cuba communist take over and they come over to United States. When Castro took over
in Cuba, they came here. Right, right, yes. Okay. They don’t want communist, that’s why. They didn’t want communism. Right. Right. Because a lot of the Chinese laborers fleeing communism in China,
went to Cuba to work. Castro took over in Cuba and
so they fled Cuba as well because of the restrictions
and because of the communism. And some of them opened restaurants. Yes, they opened at 140th Street. So they had one in Bronx before. Had one in the Bronx. And they closed down and then they get old and they don’t want to do anything. They get old. Now how did you end up in this restaurant? Did you hear about it from your uncle? Yeah, they know each other. After I go to school, my
family over here working. Okay, Clement, thank you. You’re welcome, anytime. So, Clement, I’m going to
try some of the food now. What should I get? You should get roast chicken. The roast chicken? Yeah. It come with the rice and bean. Looks good, okay. But you need white meat or dark meat? You like dark meat? Chinese people like dark meat. (laughter) Is that… I mean, that’s true. Yeah. Okay. And you want the fried yuca? I’ll have some fried yuca. Can I try some wonton soup? Okay, wonton’s very popular. I’ll try wonton soup. Wonton soup, yeah. But then I was looking, maybe, at the General Tso porkchop. Okay, no problem. (upbeat music) And here we have, what is decidedly, Chinese-influenced wonton soup. With also some slices of roast pork. You can see this red-flecked
roast pork here on the outside. And then we’ve got these
nice wonton dumplings. Homey, filling broth. I’m just going to bite into it. This wonton, filled with pork. The dough on this wonton
is incredibly thick. That is a choice that you can make. And that’s all I’ll say. It’s like a thick noodle. Fried plantains, want to
eat these before these die. These are going to be not quite as sweet and a bit starchier, a bit
firmer than their banana cousins. Plantains are not bananas. They are distinct. And what is so good about fried plantains is that they get those
caramelized edges around them. You can get that bit,
you can really see it. It’s nice, deep dark brown. And they just taste like
sweet, crunchy, caramel. Their fried plantains are great. I could eat these all the time. What I am very excited
about, yuca, a tuber. Something you’re going
to find in the ground. This is yuca, Y-U-C-A, not Y-U-C-C-A. Different thing. This is yuca, aka cassava. This is a potato-like tuber,
root vegetable plant, okay? And what this comes with is a fantastic little dish of minced garlic. Love garlic. If I were getting married,
on my wedding day, if my fiancée was like, you know,
I gotta tell you something. I don’t like garlic. I don’t eat it. Wedding’s off. Runaway bride, this guy. The garlic is just powerful,
biting, sort of sweet. There’s a little, some oil in here too. It goes well with the fried yuca, which, it’s like a french fry. It has like almost a vaguely
stringy quality, too. Not in a bad way. But you can even see that. It’s like a little bit stringy. The fibers of the yuca. It’s interesting. It’s good. I think it’s like probably a better, healthier alternative to french fry. Roast chicken, rice, beans. Quartered chicken. Looks like we have a leg and a thigh. Looks very good. Just sort of swimming
in its own gravy there. That’s nice. It’s sort of like a light,
sweet citrus-y taste. Just gonna peel this
drumstick right off here. And you can just see, like, the coloration from, you know, the chicken that has just been sitting in this marinade. Roast chicken, a specialty
in Latin America, South America. This is a little more distinctly Cuban. Very good. Chicken is nice and tender. Like Clement said, Chinese
people like dark meat so that is what I had to eat. It’s sort of true. If we ever get my grandma
on one of these shows, and I hope we do, she will
tell you the same thing. She loves dark meat. She’s from Hong Kong. You get her a head, she
will just like sit there and, like, gnaw on the head for a while. She just likes it. Yeah, this roast chicken, very good, traditional, Cuban-influenced dish. Goes well with this
plate of rice and beans. The beans, I was wondering
if we were going to get the black beans or these
fatter, reddish beans. I like these. These are nice. They’re plump, they kind
of pop in your mouth. They taste strongly of bay leaf, if that is something that
you are familiar with. It’s a little like eucalyptuses, probably is how I’d describe
the taste of bay leaf. And then, this phenomenally
radioactive yellow rice. I mean, beans and rice,
this is just such a staple. But I was very interested by
this General Tso’s pork chop. General Tso’s chicken,
invented by Mr. Peng, how do you describe it. Tomato-based, chili-based, tastes vaguely Worcestershire-y, citrus-y. Like orange chicken but
a little bit darker. Very peppery, very garlic-y. And, they’ve done this to pork chops. So, I’m just going to eat a chunk of this with my fingers because I want to. Because I want you all to be mad. I’m using nature’s fork, my fingers. It’s delicious. I love the sauce. The food is good. The food is cheap. The food is plentiful. But I think more important than the food is what it represents. What it represents to the
diversity of the city, towards New York, which is, in a lot of ways, the crossroads of the world. So having places like
this and being able to keep them here is very important. It’s important to the city. It’s important to patronize and
to support places like this. We had our first date here. Oh! At that table over there in 1986. No way. Way. (laughter) “So you want to meet me at the Caridad?” I said, absolutely. And I lived, like, on 72nd Street, so. And you said, it’s a date. It’s a date. And what is it about this place that keeps you coming back? The food is great. Food is great, and it’s a fun atmosphere. Inexpensive. Two people can eat one meal. And lunch special’s like ten bucks? They were gonna close, did they tell you? Kind of. They were going to close, and
now they got another lease. That’s so great. 44, because we were like, oh no. Yeah, that would be terrible. And they actually expanded, but I think it was too big for the rent. Rents were astronomical. Right. And for their prices. You know a big criticism of Manhattan, for Manhattanites and people
who don’t live here too, is just it’s too expensive. It’s a victory when places like La Caridad don’t have to leave. Because they can’t afford to be here, because they charge, with tax, ten dollars for lunch special, which is nothing. Dining on a Dime. Those of you who give me
a hard time about prices: Ten dollars, lunch special with tax. I really hope you enjoyed this
episode of Dining on a Dime. Form La Caridad on 78th
Street on Upper West Side. If you’d like to watch
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