Of all possible fusion-food pairings, from harmonious culinary marriages to awkward one-night stands, few feel as right as that practised in Lima’s many ‘chifa’ restaurants. Blending Chinese and Peruvian cuisine with artful simplicity, the formula was born of waves of Asian immigration starting in the second half of the 19th century.
More recently, Peruvian migrants have fanned out to make chifas firm favourites in cities like Buenos Aires and Santiago – and now São Paulo.
Opened in August 2012 by a group of four restauranteurs that includes a former partner in SP’s ceviche restaurant Killa, and a former chef at SP’s outpost of Peru’s La Mar chain, Chifa Wok specialises, as its name suggests, in dishes filled with fast-cooked, wok-fried goodies. You can’t go wrong with a classic arroz chaufa (R$30-$36) – fried rice with a choice of meat or seafood.
We went for the roast pork one to accompany our mains, namely a tasty octopus dish, pulpo kri chian (R$34), which came stir fried to a tee with smoked red onion, peppers, oyster sauce and a hint, just discernible, of pisco. The steamed won ton dumplings (siu mai, R$19) were a bit, well, dumpy – heavy and overfilled, that is; but very nice all the same, dipped in hoisin sauce.
The kam lu wantan (R$36) was a colourful jumble of flavours, featuring morsels of duck, chicken and pork flash fried with veggies and slivers of peach, topped with a tamarind sauce and a crown of light fried won tons.
It might all sound impossibly exotic, but at heart this is simple, unpretentious food, served up in a pleasant, low-key space. Thumbs up for the chifa.