When Fidel Castro took power, many Chinese immigrants fled to the U.S.
La Caridad 78, a restaurant on the Upper West Side of New York City, was born out of cultural mergers and mass migration. According to the video, La Caridad 78, founded in 1972, is believed to be the only Cuban-Chinese restaurant that still exists in New York City. The restaurant gives diners a look into the past, when Chinese and Cuban culture collided. As the video above explains, Havana, Cuba, like most major cities in the world, had a thriving Chinatown created by Chinese immigrants. The rise of Fidel Castro led to mass migration of Cubans out of Cuba, and many of them brought Cuban-Chinese food to the United States. For adventurous and curious foodies, it is a place where one can go and order a nice meal consisting of platanos maduros and shrimp fried rice. Being the last restaurant of its kind is also a reminder of the rapid depletion of Cuban-Chinese culture and community in NYC.
“I started working at La Caridad in 1986. I was born in Havana, Cuba in 1961,” Antonio Wong told Great Big Story. “I’m the last Cuban working in the restaurant.”
“The Cuban-Chinese people are getting older and they don’t have any younger people taking over,” Sam Lee, the owner and son of the founder of La Caridad 78, told Great Big Story. “I myself feel like I owe my father who started this restaurant. So I want to try to make sure that I carry on the tradition for him.”