Monday, January 30, 2006

What are Chifas?

In Peru, chifa refers to a Chinese restaurant.

Note: Since this posting is from a news article written in January 2006, some prices and locations may have changed. Please call ahead.

There was substantial Chinese immigration to Peru in the late-1880s (just like to the West Coast of the USA). One of the great Chinese legacies to Peru is its influence in Peruvian cuisine, particularly along the coast, as well as the prevalence in Peruvian life of the chifa. They exist in all cities, and in Lima, there is even a long-standing Chinatown, centered around Calle Capón, near the Mercado Central, Central Market.

Here's a list of chifas, that appeared in El Comercio, the main Lima daily, in January, 2006. This link takes you to the original Spanish-language article.

Curiously, the list leaves off Wa Lok, with branches in Chinatown and Miraflores, considered by many to be one of the most traditional in the city. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of chifas in Peru, many in Lima. These are just the El Comercio reporter's favorites.

In Lima's Chinatown

San Joy Lao
Jirón Ucayali 779
Daily, 11:00 a.m. to 11 p.m.
426-2918, 426-7799

During the current summer, there is a summer banquet for 25 soles per person, which includes prawns in apricot sauce, mushroom or fried-chicken ceviche, chi jau cuy (in both salty or sweet options, and yes cuy IS guinea pig!), Peking duck, Oriental salad with tun ku and seaweed, and special mixed fried rice. The cost includes a Chinese chirimoya cocktail or soda. There is also the regular buffet with over 200 different dishes from which to choose.

Salón Capón
Jirón Paruro 819
Daily, 12 noon to 11 p.m., Sundays until 8 p.m.

All dishes are á la carte. The star of the show is a whole Peking duck, for 75 soles. There are many delicacies including grilled taipá, noodle taipá and whole steamed chita fish, among others.

In Miraflores

Salón Capón
Larcomar Nivel 2 (Level 2)
Daily 12 noon to 12 midnight, Sundays and holidays until 11 p.m.

This is the Miraflores branch of the venerable Chinatown restaurant, located in the Larcomar shopping center which overlooks the Pacific Ocean across the street from the Marriot Hotel.

Hou Wha
Carlos Tenaud 490, block 42 of Paseo de la República
Monday to Saturday, 12:15 p.m. to 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Sundays, 12:15 to 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Hou Wha's founder, Chan Sam, arrived in Peru from Hong Kong 25 years ago, and promptly opened this restaurant. Among his diner's favorites are shrimp in sweet and sour sauce, tacos made of minced pigeon, mushroom, and Chinese sausage; and, roast suckling pig, which he prepares on special order. Average cost per person, 35 soles.

In San Isidro

Restaurante Royal
Prescott 231
Daily, 1 p.m. to 12 a.m.
422-9547, 421-0874

A bit pricey, but they have a daily lunch buffet from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for 50 soles per person.

Avenida Javier Prado Este 1212
Tuesday to Saturday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; and 7 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.
Sundays, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
224-8189, 224-1050

Unique chicken, fish, seafood, and pork dishes. Among the savory specialties are chicken kut gion kay, prawns with tausí and a pork and chicken sam si. Among the sweet specialties are crackling pork in tamarind sauce and the Imperial roll, a chicken breast stuffed with apricot, fruit, and tamarind sauce. Average cost per person, 35 soles.

If you are interested in seeing pictures of Lima's Chinatown, I posted some at this link.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana


Anonymous said...

You can find the last Chifa Titi website at

::Alejandro:: said...

Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

I love the food at the restaurant Royal. Price was great for the food service was fast. but mos interesting there was no dress code for such lunch. i recomedn it to anyone.

Anonymous said...

I love the food at San Joy Lao restaurant. I was visiting Lima China town and everybody told me to visit them and was the best option!
Congrats to them!!!!!!!
Try the lychee sour, chijaucuy, special fried rice and their sweet and sour duck, was awesome!

::Alejandro:: said...

thanks a lot for the tips about San Joy Lao, anonymous!

Maxichamp said...

Are there chifas in California?