We let ourselves be conquered by the oriental season when crossing the arch and entering the Chinatown. There is not a day that Capón street, its main artery, is empty. There, in 1921, the first Chinese restaurant in Peru was born: Kuong Tong. By the 1940s, the chifas spread outside these streets and now conquer diners throughout the country. It is our turn to take a walk and visit three tables well served with dim sum, noodles, chaufas and more.
WA LOK: THE HAPPY FAMILY
Cantonese cuisine, characterized by the presence of vegetables, comes to the table at Wa Lok. Since its inception, 29 years ago, they set out to bring Chinese culture to Peru and today they are a must for lovers of chifas.
The feeling of community is strongly rooted in Chinatown and they feel it from their local Jr. Paruro. “We are also characterized by grouping the neighbors. Although we are elsewhere [Miraflores] this point continues to be the heart of everything”, comments the commercial manager Lisseth Cruz.
The translation of Wa Lok comes to be happy family. And happy families gather around hearty tables; one of the characteristics of his dishes according to Lisseth. Along these lines are the grilled taypá: which includes a variety of meats such as chicken, pork, roast duck and prawns, as well as mixed vegetables; and the sam si noodle, flamed noodles with vegetables, chicken, pork and black mushrooms. Of course, you can’t leave without trying dim sum like ja kao or fried siu kao.
As a result of the pandemic, the restaurant ventured into delivery (in its Miraflores space); but we advise you to visit their premises. You will enjoy it.
Address: Jr. Paruro 878, Lima.
KONG: SNACKS AND MORE
In a couple of years, this small place on Jr. Paruro has expanded through Pueblo Libre and San Borja to become known as a paradise for Chinese snacks. From his small kitchen opened in 2017, 20 snacks (between steams and fried foods) and 10 dishes (Chinese and Chifa cuisine) were born, which have now multiplied by incorporating varieties of sweet min pao, soups, new noodles and other main dishes.
The recipe for the snacks (or dim sum) comes from China, but adapted to the Peruvian palate, explains executive chef Víctor Jon Loo. The star currently is the siu long pao, steamed dim sum that hides a comforting broth inside. Among the roasts, the cha siu stands out: a pork loin marinated for 1 week with 15 Chinese spices. In search of a more substantial dish, there are the noodles: lou ming with mushrooms and sa ho fan stir-fried with meat.
Now let’s go for the sweet. At Kong (and the Master Kong brothers, as the other places are called), the visit doesn’t end without a min cloth stuffed in the shape of an animal. They have six varieties, but the goal is to reach a dozen.
“We have some fused with Peruvian inputs,” explains the chef, such as the sea urchin with lucuma filling. Other options are the panda with chocolate with peanuts, the manjar blanco cream bear with peanuts, the strawberry sheep or the little pig with pastry cream and pecans.
For special dates (such as Mother’s Day, Halloween, etc.), they launch special editions of animals. To be attentive.
Direction: Jr. Paruro 836, Cercado de Lima.
SAN JOY LAO: TRADITION AND INNOVATION
Years ago, in Chinatown, there was a first San Joy Lao that closed over time. During the administration of Alberto Andrade, as mayor of Lima, he set out to revitalize this space. Thus, in Capón street, the names of the chifas of yesteryear reappeared as a way of honoring them. Among them, the San Joy Lao from the hand of the Yong family.
The family already had an emblematic place in charge: the El Chinito sanguchería. But now it was the turn of another member to make his way into the world of cooking: Dr. Luis Yong. “My dad started from scratch. He cooked as a doctor, my grandfather also came to cook, my mother was hostess. My sister and I had us washing dishes or waitressing. We all started this great project as a family”, recalls Vanessa Yong, representative of the San Joy Lao chifa.
Dr. Yong remembered that many Peruvian diners came to the place of yesteryear and he wanted to resume this clientele. For him, it was key. For this reason, fusion and innovation are essential pieces in this cuisine that has given us delicacies such as chijaucuy (chaufa with guinea pig in chijaukay sauce), choclaufa (with large and juicy grains), beef chaufa with cilantro and chaufarroncito (with pork rinds and ribs from El Chinito).
“We are the same family and the same heart; one in sanguchería and another in chifa”, says Vanessa. And the innovations don’t stop. They just launched a Chinese taco with a mix of meat (turkey, Chinese sausage and duck) and a zhentou (snack) with duck. “We have the characteristics of tradition, quality, quantity and I would add innovation. We do not want to stay in time ”, she emphasizes.
With an appetite for something else? Try their special chaufa (with different meats) or the pork with garlic. You will always find something to your liking on the menu.
Direction: Jr. Ucayali 779, Lima.
I, Ronald Payne, am a journalist and author who dedicated his life to telling the stories that need to be said. I have over 7 years of experience as a reporter and editor, covering everything from politics to business to crime.