A bit surprisingly, Peru has its own version of Chinese food (locally known as chifa), and there are many, many chifa restaurants spread around Lima; you will find them almost anywhere in the city and there’s one for every budget.
The first Chinese immigrants arrived in Peru around 1850, bringing their culture and, of course, their cusine. Chifa, as we know it, is just Chinese food prepared with a Peruvian touch; this touch may be a certain ingredient or condiment, a way of cooking, or a fusion of flavors and/or techniques.
Early on, chifas were inexpensive places to grab lunch or dinner, but with the recent boom in Peruvian cuisine, chifas have also become very classy restaurants. Nowadays there are some 5,000 chifas in Peru. Due to Lima’s proximity to the sea, many chifas here also specialize in seafood.
Your first stop for Chinese food should be the local Chinatown, the “Barrio Chino,” located downtown on Capon Street. Not only you will find a wide selection of places to eat, but you’ll have a chance to admire the picturesque surroundings.
For a very fast and very cheap meal, or if you are not too hungry, step into any Metro or Wong supermarket and find the dim sum carts inside. They offer many small servings of different chifa delicacies, and also “combos,” a combination plate of two, three or more dishes. They also include a glass of soda and range between 5 and 18 soles, that is, between US $1.50 and US $6.
Cheapest eats aside, there are many options for those looking for reasonably priced Chinese: a few suggestions could be the chain Wa Lok, which has restaurants in several districts (the main one is in the Barrio Chino); the ubiquitous chain China Wok, which is easy to find at any food court and has become an international franchise with presence in several Latin and Central American countries; or Chifa Express, which does not run a real restaurant but only takes delivery orders (Phone: 213-6688).
High-end chifa restaurants abound: don’t miss booking a table at Madam Tusan, the newest luxury chifa joint in Lima. Run by Peruvian cuisine guru Gaston Acurio, Madam Tusan offers a selection of more than 100 Peruvian-Chinese dishes to choose from. Other options include Lung Fung, a top-notch restaurant with a casino, and Chifa Palacio in San Isidro, which also can deliver your order to your hotel.
Remember to stay open to surprises and ask your Peruvian friends for suggestions – chances are they’ll be able to recommend inexpensive but delicious places.