Watching Cheuk Kwan's "Chinese Restaurants" series which just came out on DVD, I found myself inspired to seek out some hyphenated-Chinese food here in town. I recalled a review of a Peruvian "chifa" called simply "Asian Restaurant -- Chifa Peruano" in AsianWeek a couple of years back. The only mention of it I could find on Chowhound was just that, a mention, by someone who hadn't tried it, so I decided to check it out.
I found the chifa on Mission St. just south of Geneva. At 1:30 on a cold, drizzly Saturday there were two Hispanic families and one Chinese family, who appeared to be friends or relatives of the owners, present. The family that owns it is, in fact from Peru, and spoke fluent Spanish to their Hispanic customers and Spanish mixed with Cantonese to each other.
Being solo, I opted for a warming wonton soup (sopa wantan) and a couple of apps, but also ordered two entrees to bring home for dinner. The wonton soup had a chicken-ey broth, and the wontons were accompanied only by some cabbage leaves. The wantons were pork filled, with a thicker, darker colored wrapper than is customary but nonetheless tasty. My apps were potstickers (surprisingly decent versions, though I neglected to ask if they were actually house-made), and fried prawns, which were a bit too oily from the thick batter that was used.
The two entrees I bought to take home were lomo saltado ("beef sauteed with potatoes") and chicken fried rice (chaufa de pollo). Both of these are almost National dishes in Peru (as is wonton soup), though the lomo saltado is really more "criollo" (traditional Peruvian) than "chifa." Since it was my wife's mahjongg night, and I was too lazy to do otherwise, I simply nuked both takeouts in the microwave. The fried rice survived just fine; it was a non-greasy version, more like a paella (or think "arroz con pollo") with healthy amounts of chicken and egg, though a bit on the bland side. The lomo saltado was rich in nicely-browned fried potato pieces (or more likely French fries), and would have benefitted from reheating in a fry pan or wok instead of microwaving. The dish was also a bit on the bland side, too, particularly for a dish that's traditionally quite spicy.
Overall, the food was less interesting from a cuisine standpoint than from a cultural anthropology standpoint, but I'll probably be back to try more chifa specialties offered, such as the eccentric kam lu won ton ("fried wonton topped with assorted meats") or "prawn rolled in chicken."
Asian Restaurant Chifa Peruano
5173 Mission St. (between Geneva and Rolph)
Mon. - Sun 11:00 am - 10:00 PM
They also deliver.
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