Tag Archives: Peru

Chifa- Chinese food that conquered Peru.  

With the World top 50 restaurants in, there is yet again a spotlight on Peruvian cuisine.  Its no surprise to us, we’re always loved Peruvian food!

While the top end restaurants certainly have their place and are well worth a visit for a special treat while you’re away (make sure you book ahead!), local Peruvian food is much closer to our hearts.

We are very lucky to have offices across Latin America, which give us regular insights into ‘what’s hot’. Sandra from our Lima office tells us about the new Chifa revolution in Peru, that is growing popular across the world.

I first heard about Chifa from my colleagues here in Lima, when they suggested it for lunch. Working principally with Peruvians is a huge advantage when you want to get to know a city; they introduce you to new food and show you the hidden gem restaurants which you would never find yourself.

Credit  Jan van der Crabben
Credit Jan van der Crabben

When they suggested Chinese, I found it difficult to imagine Chinese restaurants lining the streets of Lima and feared that I would be presented with the same bland food, lacking in authenticity that I had tried in other areas of the world. How wrong I was.  As it turned out, Peruvian Chifa is very different from regular Chinese food that I have tasted in other countries.  Chifa is a fusion of Chinese with Creole Peruvian food and the result is a unique taste that not only makes it popular in Peru, but slowly, all over the world.  Whether you like Chinese food or not, you need to taste Chifa when you are in Peru!

After doing some research, I discovered the Chinese culture is a deeply rooted part of Peruvian history, though quite often forgotten.

Due to a labour shortage after the abolition of slavery in the mid-19th century, tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants came to Peru to find work in mines or on sugar plantations. Many Chinese people were also hired as cooks on the ships for the long journeys across the ocean. Once on land they continued cooking on ranches.  When their contracts ended, they were able to start up Chifa-restaurants which served typical Chinese food made with South America ingredients.

Since many ingredients were difficult to find in Peru, the Chinese modified their cuisine and incorporated many Peruvian elements to create the fusion food Chifa. Even today it is difficult to find authentic Chinese cuisine in Peru, but with the prevalence of Chifa, nobody seems overly concerned by this. Over time, these Eastern influences have found their way into traditional Coastal and Andean dishes. Chifa has become so integrated into national cuisine, that is is not longer really considered Chinese. The famous dish Lomo Saltado- beef and vegetables sautéed in soy and Szechuan root is just as at home on a Peruvian restaurant menu as guinea pig or ceviche. Indeed, Chifa is now very much recognised as  authentic Peruvian food.

The first time I saw the menu, I was utterly confused. I couldn’t make head nor tail of  random names of the dishes. I ended up messaging a friend for recommendations. I am going to do you a favour now and pass on my personal recommendations, so you don’t get lost when you go.

My absolute favourite is the Fried Wonton.  The delicious pork filled pockets are served with a sweet chilli dip and are great as a starter to share. I am not a huge soup fan, but the Wonton soup is also delicious. Other popular Chifa dishes include : Tallarin Saltado (Fried Noodles) and of course the Arroz Chaufa (Fried Rice), which is a big favourite.  The fried rice is made with eggs, vegetables, meat and sautéed in soy sauce and oil. Other versions of Arroz Chaufa include shrimps, chicken, beef, pork and mushrooms.

crispy-southwestern-wontons-20a
Crispy Wonton
Peruvian fired rice
Peruvian fried rice

Chifa is generally, not very expansive, so whether you pay US$20 or US$3, the food will generally be  delicious and of a good standard. So it’s really down to your own personal preference of the sort of restaurant you like to eat in- low key and local, mid-range or fancy.

Inca Kola
Inca Kola

Whatever restaurant you choose, be sure to order an Inca Kola with your meal to add to the authentic experience. It is a bubble gum flavoured soda, using a herb native to South America. This Hierba Luisa flavored drink was actually created by British immigrants. Through clever marketing, this drink has managed to knock Coca Cola off its throne as number one beverage in Peru.

 

Here are our top Some Chifa restaurants recommendations

1. Chifa wa Lok.

Av. Angamos Oeste 700, Miraflores, Lima

Peruvian Peking Duck
Peruvian Peking Duck

Wa Lok is among the best Chifa restaurants in Lima. Hidden on the second floor of a casino, this restaurant has dozen of appetizers and huge portions, so you better be hungry! Their Peking Duck is amazing!

 

http://www.walok.com.pe/

  1. Madam Tusan

Av Santa Cruz 859, Miraflores, Lima

Chifa Madam Tusan
Chifa Madam Tusan

Opened in 2011, Madam Tusan is a restaurant of the iconic Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio. This Chifa will challenge your senses with a variety of 112 dishes and a great selection of cocktails.

http://www.madamtusan.pe/

3. Chifa Chung Yion -Union

Jr. Unión 126, Barranco, Lima

Chifa Chung Yion -Union
Chifa Chung Yion -Union

This is the first Chifa experience and I always return to this restaurant. There are literally thousands online reviews raving about this place. It also has a fantastic  section of vegetarian dishes. It is more of a local place, which is always a good sign.

4. Chifa Hou Wha

Calle Carlos Tenaud 490, Miraflores, Lima.

This spectacular Chifa restaurant  has a beautiful Chinese garden. They have a high quality buffet with a huge variety of dishes on offer.

http://www.chifahouwha.com.pe/

For more on Peru, visit www.chimuadventures.com

 

2 Cool Llamas

So, I guess by now that it’s pretty obvious that we’re bonkers about Latin America here at Chimu UK.  But, its not just the amazing landscapes, the beaches, the culture (I could go on) that we love. We love the unique and wacky side of Latin America. The mad animals, crazy dancing and all out love for life, that is completely infectious.

Here, because its Friday (and because we’ve been laughing at it all afternoon) are two very cool Llamas…

Enjoy 🙂

A little piece of Peruvian Paradise

DSC03481_Fotor

Our Product and Marketing Assistant Sandra, who is currently working in our Peru office, spent a wonderful weekend at Huacachina on the Peruvian coast and this is her story. Sat in cold and wet London we’re not jealous… much!

Imagine…it is 6 o’clock in the evening and you are sat at the top of a giant sand dune watching the sunset over a breathtaking landscape, where golden yellows, rusty reds and pinks blend with each other. Below lies an oasis with a desert lagoon surrounded by exotic palm trees.

It took thirty exhausting minutes to climb  the sand dune. I spent the entire climb trying to convince my friend that we didn’t need to go all the way to the top, the view from the middle would be just as good. It was serious work out for the thighs! But her stubbornness was in the end our gain. Pull yourself together and get up that dune! I promise, every welding sputter will be worth it when you see the the view she said. And my goodness, she was right!

Huacachina is a tiny town in southern Peru, around five hours from Lima. I had always wanted to see it for myself. Unfortunately I missed out when I was travelling through Peru for the first time last year. I am now working at the Chimu office in Lima, so Huacachina seemed like the perfect little getaway for the weekend.

My friend and I took the Cruz del Sur Bus on Saturday morning from Lima and travelled south.  It is a five hour journey by bus to Ica and then a ten minute drive on to Huacachina. Tourists visit Huacachina for three reasons:  the beauty of the desert with its massive sand dunes, the opportunity to sand board and to ride around in one of the four-wheel-drive dune buggies that whiz up and down the dunes at a breakneck-speed. You can certainly count on having a lot of fun when you visit DSC03443_Fotorthis little Oasis.  The town is quite small and visitors can easily get from one end to the other in a few minutes.  Right in the centre there is a huge lagoon surrounded by palm trees and huarangos trees. You can hire paddle-boats or swim in the lagoon… but be aware of the mermaid! According to legend, a mermaid lives in the lagoon and takes one man each year. I think, however that certain Peruvians inability to swim is a more feasible explanation of the yearly drowning!

Climbing to the top of one of the dunes for the amazing views of both the gorgeous lagoon and the city is an absolute must! It is simply mesmerizing! I would recommend setting off a good hour before sunset, particularly if you have similar fitness to me (virtually non-existent). Take plenty of water, your camera , maybe a cold beer (which will be warm by the time you get up there anyway, but better than nothing right?) and maybe a scarf to protect yourself from the wind. You will notice that it is a common ritual to finish the day on top of the dunes. After that, we jumped, rolled and fell back down 400 meters, back to our hotel.

The following morning we went on a dune buggy ride, which took us out to the desert.  The buggy drove with such a speed up and down the dunes, that the little 12 year old in you screams with delight….weeeeee!!! Within a matter of seconds we went from 0 to 35mph with nothing more than fine grains of sand serving as a grip. The scary part is when you can’t even see over the hill you are about to hurtle down, but you soon realise that the steep

DSC03523_Fotor dunes are the most fun!  After some speeding fun, we drove to the top of a dune so we could do some sand boarding. I would suggest renting a real snowboard, with the right gear, so your feet are properly attached to the board. This way you are able to do turns. Before booking a tour, remember to mention this to your tour guide, otherwise they give you a ‘Chile board’ which is basically just a wooden board and with nothing to attach your feet to. Sand boarding is a lot of fun for everybody, whatever your age or fitness. If you fall, the worst thing that can happen is that you might need a bit more time in the shower,  removing the sand from every possible corner of your body!

After two days we headed back to Lima feeling pretty miserable. Huacachina is such a chilled little oasis with so much to offer. When planning your trip to Peru, don’t forget to put Huacachina on your list.

For more on Peru visit http://www.chimuadventures.com/country/peru or contact Chimu UK: uk@chimuadventures.com