Tropical Chinese Delivers ….To Hospital ERs

Miami's famous dim sum destination is supplying meals to doctors, nurses and cleaning crews in three hospitals

As the Covid-19 emergency shut down dining out, owner of Tropical Chinese – long hailed as the Miami dim sum destination — Mei Yu became worried about the fate of her employees. After expressing her concerns on social media — along with a few pictures of bringing Tropical’s restaurant meals to her mother’s medical cancer team at Baptist Health  – Miami beauty editor Erin Michelle Newberg called Yu with an idea: Together they’d organize an effort to feed medical professionals who everyday fight on the front lines.

Erin Michelle Newberg and Mei Yu

“Complaining wasn’t going to get us anywhere,” says Newberg. “I said, ‘Let’s come up with a strategic way to do good things and stay open.’”

For the past three weeks, they’ve been – through Tropical Chinese – bringing meals to the Intensive Care Units, the Emergency Departments and to the Operating Rooms at three hospitals: Jackson Memorial Hospital, University of Miami Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center. Some 200 to 300 bento boxes a day provide a reprieve from hospital fare for doctors, nurses and housekeeping crews.

“Every day, these people are there, risking their health and that of their families’,” says Yu. “They deserve to eat well.”

The undertaking has raised over $20,000 from donors in Miami such as Maria Beguiristain, Carol Iacovelli, Alexa Wolman, Wayne Chaplin, Nicole Lozano and Suzanne Birgragher, who might likely at this time of any other year be fundraising at philanthropic events. The money goes toward bento boxes that typically sell for $12 but have been slashed – at the health of any possible profits – to $6. The restaurant is operating at a loss, says Yu, but the choice of chicken, pescatarian or vegetarian meals she prepares – including dishes such as egg fried rice with curry chicken, eggplant string beans, pork and shrimp dumplings and vegetarian spring rolls — are making the situation more palatable for everyone.

“This is keeping my soul alive, not my business,” says Yu. “I thank Erin for kick starting this effort and getting me to do this.”