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Restaurants & Bars 4

cuban-chinese fare

jennifer kalb | Feb 16, 1999 10:17 AM

Yesterday, a walk down memory lane. When I was still a
child, a more mature person introduced me to the
pleasures of the "comidas criolla chinas y latinas"
joints. There were many such establishments in the
1970s, on 9th Ave, in Jackson Heights, on the upper
west side (where I lived), etc. Even a small chain
(Asia de Cuba, I think, and variations). Dominican-
Chinese (spicier) in addition to Cuban. For quite a
number of years, visited as many of these places as
we could find, Had a lot of mediocre to excellent
chicharrones de pollo, masita frita,ropa vieja,arroz
con calamares, , pernil with moro rice garlic sauce
and yuca (hated the yuca - on weekends), sancocho,
"sopa china especial" (with a poached egg in it)fried
sweet plantains, pudin diplomatico, guava and cheese,
etc. etc.

Of all of the Upper West Side ones, the best by far
was La Tacita d'Oro, Bway at 100th St, in a ramshackle
old building. Their fried foods were always well
spiced, not merely greasy, and I remember their
sancocho, chicharrones, rice and beans and other
dishes fondly. Food was much better than La Caridad,
Victoria China (some of the few survivors from that
time) which were never much better than survival fare.

Well yesterday, we walked the old neighborhood to see
what remained. Chun Cha Fu, Harbin Inn long gone, of
course, along with the decent,cheapo upstairs chinese
place in the 90s (shanghai gardens or something like
that?) with the most depressed, poverty stricken
looking chinese waiters we had ever seen. (this was
before takeout joints). I had an unmentioned goal -
some pernil to serve with some pink beans and rice I
had cooked. I had real hopes of Tacita d'Oro. As we
ambled s toward 100 St., reminiscing about a weird old
bar at 106th which had briefly been taken over by
thais (long gone) who served an egg custard dessert
with corn in it and fried onions on top (no adjustment
to american taste in those days), vanished thai and
korean grocery stores and generally about the scale of
change in 20 years, we saw that the old Td'O space had
been taken over by some glossy Diner. Damn. But, in
the next block (between 99th and 100th, West Side) we
found amazingly that the restaurant has survived.
Even smaller and more humble than before, an extremely
unprepossessing spot. But, as the waiter told me,
"the same owner for 25 years". And the pernil and the
accompanying garlic sauce was great. A minor miracle
on Upper Broadway. Give it a try.

ps. Took home a bag of those Columbia bagels to
Bklyn. Not worth 3 miles carrying. Nothing special.

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