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La Borichina brings Latin Asian fusion food to Connecticut

The popular Waterbury eatery on the corner of 718 West Main Street has gained a following of 17,000 Facebook users and 9,000 likes in just a few months.

WATERBURY, Conn. — It’s been three months since La Borichina opened its doors and has since gained popularity throughout the Latino community, not just in Connecticut, but in other states too.

The popular Waterbury eatery on the corner of 718 West Main Street has gained a following of 17,000 Facebook users and 9,100 likes in just a few months. Owners Patricia Law Li and Kenneth Law Li did not anticipate this amount of support from the community, but they welcome it with open arms.

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“Does it save you a plane ticket back home?” Kenneth asks customers that go to La Borichina to satiate their craving for the Puerto Rican-style Chinese food that would otherwise only be found in Puerto Rico. 

While the business may have grown overnight, it was two years in the making before the grand opening. Patricia Law Li remembered doing catering and people asking her if she would open a restaurant. She spoke with her family about the possibility of opening a Latin-Chinese fusion spot, a similar business to what her family has in Puerto Rico. 

“I lived here for quite some time and I noticed there’s a lot of Chinese takeout but nothing like the Puerto Rico style and nothing like the Puerto Rico flavor,” she said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic influenced the kind of business eatery they would open. La Borichina made its debut as a food trailer in August 2022, and will soon be expanding into a brick-and-mortar restaurant within the coming months.

Within the first few weeks of its opening, Patricia said they had thousands of customers, people would make lines for six hours, and people would drive from other states just to wait hours in line. 

What makes the Latin-Asian fusion food at the restaurant so special is the implementation of Spanish seasoning and food to the already existing Chinese entrees. Patricia and Kenneth hope the that when customers eat their food it brings them back to the island. 

“We have the carne frita (fried pork), which is a very famous plate with the Hispanics, which regular Chinese here don’t have. We do mofongo that the Chinese don’t have. We kind of blend in the Hispanic with Chinese,” she said. “We also do chicken broccoli with the boneless spare ribs but our seasoning and our sauce is a completely different taste.”

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On a recent visit to the restaurant, FOX61 spoke with Jessica Rivera, from New Britain, who went to La Borichina during her lunch break, something she said she does regularly. 

"This is a new concept in Connecticut. There's no other place like it that gives Puerto Rican flavor to the food, in a Puerto Rican style. They're the best. I came the first day, the second day and I am going to keep going," Rivera said. 

The owners were both born in Puerto Rico, but all of their family is Chinese. Patricia said her family emigrated to Puerto Rico and opened businesses there, which is why they were born and raised there. Patricia and Kenneth followed the footsteps of their relatives and opened La Borichina “to explore” and see how it would turn out. 

“Since we were raised in Puerto Rico, we kind of have what people call the 'Boricua character,' It's kind of, like, proud - I’m proud to be a part of the Puerto Rican community here as well,” she said. “A lot of Puerto Ricans are impressed when they see Asians speaking Spanish…But we feel good being part of the Puerto Rico culture.”

La Borichina was named after her mixed culture. That way, she said, people can identify the business as Boricua and Chinese.  

"We chose this name because Puerto Ricans call themselves Boricuas and to identify the Chinese-style food we put 'Bori' for Boricua and China for Chinese Puerto Rico type of food,” she said.

The food trailer is filled with designs that are symbolic of both of her cultures coming together to form the “Borichina” identity. The food trailer has national symbols of the ‘coqui’ from Puerto Rico and the panda from China. Her friend, who designed the food trailer, implemented a caricature of her on her trailer. 

“I ride motorcycles and when I had my bike, people called it ‘La Borichina’s bike,” she said ‘if you’re gonna utilize the name to identify who you are, and where you come from, why don't we just put you in the picture,’” she said. 

Kenneth said there are older people that go to the restaurant who aren't able to travel and thank them.

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Patricia hopes to one day make La Borichina into a chain restaurant. People from Boston, New Jersey, and New York come to try the popular Asian-Latin fusion food. Patricia said she wants to keep customers happy by expanding so they can add more plates to their menu since the food trailer limits what they can make. 

“We are looking to expand into a restaurant and not only to expand but to open multiple locations to provide the community with jobs as well,” she said.  

A customer favorite Patricia recalls is the boneless spare ribs and carne frita, pepper steak, and chicken pepper. The most requested item is fried chicken, which they are not able to make so they will implement it in the new location.  

“We already have a location in place…We are looking to add a restaurant with the same name and the same concept, bringing more different plates to the table in Waterbury,” she said. 

Patricia and Kenneth thanked the community for giving them support. 

Jareliz Diaz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jdiaz@fox61.com


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