Friday, August 22, 2008

Destination Peru #8: Chifas in Peru

Look familiar?

What about this one?

It's funny how Chinese restaurants look the same wherever you go. The same cheap furniture, tacky posters and paintings, and that ubiquitous bottle of soy sauce on every table. I suppose that you can say the same about any French or Japanese restaurant. But the frugality of Chinese decor will always be apparent. Chinese restaurants have taken a life of their own in Peru. Being such a diverse capital, Chinese have made their two million strong population felt in the Peruvian culinary scene. So much in fact that Chinese restaurants actually have a special name chifa, a transliteration of the Chinese 吃飯 meaning "to eat."

Sopa Wanton

Arroz Chaufa

Chifas are actually so common place in Lima that there's hardly a dining district without chopsticks and red walls. Wonton soup, or sopa wanton, often on the menu of even non-Chinese restaurants. As is arroz chaufa, fried rice. Just as Chinese food is in the States, the chifas in Peru serve a particular brand of cuisine distinct from its roots in the Orient. For one thing, sweet and sour seems to be big. A duck dish I ordered in Puno was peculiarly sliced and stir-fried instead of roasted whole. But given its uniqueness, I still found the food to be decent. The fried rice we had in Lima was particularly delicious. The chifas do have some strange habits such as serving jasmine tea with sugar (ack!).

Pato con ajo (Garlic duck)

We visited Chifa Parque Central in Lima and Chifa Nan Hua 南華 in Puno. Inca Kola has become a staple of chifas, much like the Belfast Apple Cider in Chinese restaurants in America. Still, I'd rather have my Chinese food with tea, but please, hold the sugar.


Anonymous said...

from all the chinese food places I've tried in my 29 years living in Lima, the best ones were/are:

Salon Capon (either in Lima Downtown or Miraflores)
and Wa Lok in Miraflores. They serve nice tea without sugar :)

Aaron said...

Thanks Claudia. Salon Capon and Wa Lok it is. I wouldn't necessarily recommend the ones I went to, but here are some recommendations by a local.

Cormoran said...

Very good "Chifas" are

Ti-Ti in San Isidro