They're Not Just from Cuba Anymore
By ERIN CHAN
Even in his black-and-white waiter's garb, Michael Lan stands out, his hair spiked, his dark brown eyes scrutinizing customers from behind rose-tinted glasses.
Mr. Lan, who traces his ancestry to Guangdong Province and has been waiting tables for 11 years at Dinastia China on 72nd Street on the Upper West Side, one of the city's major Chinese-Cuban restaurants, often surprises his newest customers. This is not because he addresses them in perfect English or yells orders to the cooks in flawless Cantonese, but because he and most of Dinastia's waiters speak a Spanish as smooth as an ice-blended margarita.
Their Spanish, however, tends not to have the rapidity characteristic of Cuban Spanish, and this is significant because Mr. Lan was born in Uruguay, and he has no connection to Cuba. Neither does most of the staff of 10.
"See Roberto?" Mr. Lan said, pointing out a fellow waiter. "Chino-Venezuelano." Rafael? "Chino-Dominicano." Juan, the boss? "Chino-Peruano."