The Day – Rico Chow brings Spanish-Asian fusion cuisine to New London

New London – After finishing his mofongo for lunch at one of Rico Chow’s five tables on Thursday, Bryan Marrero – who is Puerto Rican – said the dish was like ‘my grandmother has suddenly moved to Asia’.

It’s a fitting compliment for the 2 month old restaurant which bills itself as a Hispanic-Asian fusion.

Marrero and his friend Adam Bizar, who came from Greenwich, said it was their first time there, but Marrero laughed, saying “we were already talking about coming back here for dinner”. Bizar said his wonton soup and ribs were “absolutely amazing” – fresh, light, and with just the right amount of salt.

David Santiago and Gerardo DeJesus – along with Santiago’s wife Angelys Vazquez – opened Rico Chow at 403 Williams St. in Hodges Square on April 15.

Santiago and DeJesus are both Puerto Rican, but as Santiago describes the marriage of kitchens, he’s the “Rico” and DeJesus is the “Chow”.

DeJesus, 32, grew up in Massachusetts but moved with his family to Puerto Rico when he was 15, and lived there for a few years before working in Michigan, Florida, Massachusetts and now New London.

DeJesus liked the Chinese take-out food he bought in Puerto Rico. He said he went on to become a cook at a Korean restaurant and then a Thai restaurant, where he liked the variety of food and made things like lo mein noodles, coconut curries and stir-fries.

He met Santiago about two years ago, when they were both working at Pink Basil in Mystic. Santiago said the two had “the same dream, the same passion” and wanted to do something on their own.

Santiago, 33, grew up in New London; he lived in Florida for a few years but said “once you are in New London you always come back”.

He said he started in the restaurant industry doing dishes and worked his way up through the ranks, working at several local restaurants, such as Somewhere in Time, David Burke Prime and Octagon.

He now likes that he can do something for the city that raised him, commenting, “We’re cleaning up this area.” He said they repainted the sidewalk and put new mulch on the outside, and that even just having two umbrellas above the picnic tables makes a difference.

Santiago said the most popular dishes are mofongo, a plantain dish that is “very, very popular in the Hispanic community,” and the iconic Rico Chow dish, which includes fried rice, chicken wings and French fries. .

Another favorite is the loaded Korean-style fries, which include kimchi, barbecue sauce, and spicy mayonnaise, and a particularly good example of the fusion is the steamed bread tacos. Other options include Pastelon stir-fry, teriyaki chicken, pepper steak, bulgogi, and potstickers.

Customers can order over the counter, order online at rico-chow.square.site or order for delivery on GrubHub or Seamless.

Santiago said that being in a low to middle income area, he wanted to offer people something affordable but with an upscale feel. Most of the main options are between $ 9 and $ 13.

Going forward, Santiago has said he wants to attend Eat in the Street, which takes place the first Wednesday of the month in downtown New London throughout the summer, and host a food truck.

“We are here, and we are here to make a difference,” he said.

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