The true Peruvian-Chinese fusion
Claim to fame: Roast duck like you’ve never had it before
Reason to go: No culinary explorations of Lima would be complete withouth tasting chifa
To look out for: Fried wontons stuffed with shrimp and chicken––a favorite chifa-snack, Titi’s are considered to be Lima’s finest.
A recent Peruvian survey revealed that the country has more chifa restaurants than cevicherías. Which says a lot about a nation that made ceviche its national dish. What is a chifa, you wonder? The easy answer: a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant. Though, of course, there’s plenty more to it than that.
Peru was one of the first countries in Latin America to abolish slavery, a decision made in 1860 by President Ramón Castilla. Still, sugar plantation-owners needed labor, so Peru started importing Chinese workers. During the first years circa one hundred thousand Chinese contract laborers arrived, most of them Cantonese from the province of Guandong. Naturally, they brought along their culinary traditions, and thus chifa was born: Cantonese fare adapted to Peruvian produce and taste buds.
Unfortunately, though Peruvians adore chifa and you can find chifa restaurants on every street corner, most of them are not exactly culinary sensations, largely because chifa has become associated with cheap lunches and all-you-can-eat buffets.
Thankfully there’s one traditional place that not only lives up to the memories and status of old chifas, it has actually rewritten the cookbook. Travel- and gastro-guides regularly overlook Chifa Titi but among real food connoisseurs it’s considered one of Lima’s best restaurants. Not one of the best chifas, but one of the best restaurants. Period. At Chifa Titi, they’ve mastered the local Chinese classics like arroz chaufa (Peruvian stir-fried rice), siu mai dim sum and chancho al ajo (garlic pork). But it’s the house specialties that really make this a next-level dining experience, innovative dishes like steamed frog fish with soy sauce and duck stuffed with sticky rice, which has to be ordered two days in advance.