Peruvian and Chinese cuisines have more overlap than you might think, yet the idea of linking the two cuisines seems far-fetched. However, since the mid-19th century, when Chinese immigrants from Guangdong arrived in Peru, the cuisines have shared a commonality of ingredients (think rice), cooking techniques (like stir-frying) and flavours (like the famous sweet-and sour-combination).
Chifa’s new culinary director, Chef Arturo Melendez, aims to highlight the long-standing history shared between the nations. Formerly Chifa Dumpling House, the eatery explores the dynamic flavours of Lima’s Barrio Chino through its menu of contemporary dishes and remains spot on for capturing the gastronomic development as Hong Kong’s only “chifa” restaurant.
The service at Chifa is warm and inviting, with the servers happy to direct you to the signatures on the menu. For larger parties, the restaurant has flexibility to create family-sized dishes of anything you order so that everybody leaves full and happy. An array of beer, wine and cocktails mixed with pisco or chilcano keeps lunch and dinners light, with the main focus on the food.
Classics such as ceviche have been added to the new menu and given a twist. The ceviche Chifa style ($150) combines the coastal ingredients of fresh shrimp, octopus and tuna with savoury, citrusy leche de tigre. This was delectable and a perfect way to begin our meal.
Dim sum remains on the menu but has become a smaller focus under the new chef. You’ll find some steamed Chinese dumplings along with the new addition of steamed vegetarian Impossible meatballs ($110), made with garlic, coriander and onion. On the side, a sauce containing maracuya kion (passion fruit) can be added for a sweet-and-sour indulgence.
Of course, the stir-fry section is a must-order. The tallarin saltado ($150), also known as chow mein, is a traditionally famous dish that stands on the menu of almost every Peruvian restaurant. Crispy ho fun noodles are paired with a medley of bite-sized diced seafood, all tossed in a savoury glaze along with fresh, crisp red bell pepper, peas and onion.
The chaufa Peruano ($160), a chifa fried rice dish (known as chao fan across Asia), was mixed at our table with fresh green tomato sauce, shrimp and vegetables, topped with fried wonton chips. This was a homey, comforting dish.
The Ibérico rack ($220) was slathered in rocoto pepper hoisin sauce – be warned, it’s spicy! Slightly crisp on the outside but tender to the bone, these mouth-numbing ribs were addictive with their all-in-one sweet, spicy, salty combination.
The grilled cod chuen siu ($180) was quite small in comparison to the other dishes. Cooked to perfection, the fish was seasoned in a mild sauce and was flaky and tender. A sweet, tangy emulsified mango sauce was served with the cod, which I couldn’t get enough of.
While Peruvian favourites and Chinese dishes remain on the menu, Chifa demonstrates that the cooking techniques and colourful ingredients shared by both cuisines must be used with precision to best showcase this gastronomic fusion of flavours. The rebranding of the restaurant and move away from being known as a dumpling house is the right one – and has proven to be well executed.
26 Peel Street, SoHo, Central, 2311 1815, book online
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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