Travelling around Peru will have you sampling food in one of the most gastronomical diverse landscapes in the world. At Pariwana, you’re close to everything unique; markets and renowned restaurants, street food and snack stands with anticuchos. One thing you might not have heard of before is Chifa, the Peruvian Chinese food.
Chifa is the phonetic result of a Spanish-speaker’s attempt to pronounce the Chinese symbol that represents the mix between Peruvian and Chinese cuisine. Chinese workers came to Peru back in the 19th century, and they helped build the country’s infrastructure from then on.
Today, Chifa refers not only the melding of Latin and Chinese recipes, but also to every Chinese restaurant in the country. So, when you hear fellow backpackers discussing whether to go grab a bite of Chifa, they’re talking about any Chinese restaurant.
Like in many countries of the world, there are plenty of Chinese restaurants. However, the Chinese food in each one differs from the next. The Chinese food that you’ll find in the US, for example, differs drastically from the Chinese food you come across in Mexico. Peru’s Chifas offer a unique menu that not only comes from a history of oriental influence, but that shares the Peruvian tendency of gastronomic excellence.
Chifas offer dishes to go, so you might enjoy your meal back at the hostel. Dishes are generally large, and sometimes you can make two meals out of one!
The items of the menu can differ from chifa to chifa, but there are a few that are generally available for your delight. Chaufa rice is fried rice, and is usually the cheapest dish available. You can usually get chaufa with chicken or beef. Fried noodles are another common dish. Fried soy and wantan, or wantan soup, are also available. Kam Lu Wantan is another variant that makes your mouth water.
Tipa Kay Chicken is a popular dish, and the true Peruvian hybrid version would be the Tipa Cuy, made with guinea pig. Chikaukai Chicken is another regular dish. Finally, you can even find a typical Peruvian treat among many chifas; lomo saltado.
All in all, a visit to a chifa is a cultural experience that is a necessary one to have.