After opening its first South American-tinted project, Tokyolima, Pirata Group is back with another play on Peruvian cuisine with Chifa Dumpling House, a Chinese-Peruvian eatery. Coincidentally, the space that currently houses Chifa was the same that once belonged to Chicha (Its then-chef Arturo Melendez is now the executive chef at Tokyolima).
The new restaurant has been popular since its opening. With limited tables open for online reservations and the rest available for walk-ins, we were seated promptly as we arrived. The low ceiling and dim lighting made the room seem less spacious, although we enjoyed the playful pastel pairing of pink and blue, while a rattan wall adds a tropical touch to its interiors.
If the idea of a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant confuses you, here’s the idea. The tradition is a result of Chinese immigrants settling along the coast of Peru. Fusing Chinese cooking with Peruvian ingredients and culture created a unique repertoire blending characteristics from both cuisines. Think of it as a Chinese restaurant that serves food with some Peruvian elements here and there. We began with duck spring rolls, crisp pastry tubes filled generously with shredded duck meat, mixed vegetables, oyster sauce and bell peppers, set atop a puree of choclo, or Peruvian corn. While the puree resembles creamy white polenta, the porridge-like puree was a bit bland even enjoyed with the great spring rolls. Fried chicken with coriander sauce, another popular starter at Chifa, fared better. Lightly floured chunks of chicken thighs were deep-fried until golden-brown, and garnished with a wedge of lime. The golden nuggets are well-seasoned on their own, but the coriander dipping sauce was far too pungent to begin with. The musky aroma of the herb can be on the pungent side even for lovers of the herb.