Wantan Soup at Chifa Status (Wayra)
The chifas, Chinese restaurants, of the Imperial city of Cusco are very popular, just like those offering pollos a la brasa as well as ceviche. People come to them to enjoy the great variety of dishes they offer on their menus. They are almost as popular as the overflowing chicken shops.
If you walk down the different streets of our city it is easy to find a chifa that is open. They are scattered throughout the city and open from noon till about 11 pm.
A very popular offering is sopa wantan or wonton soup. It is served before a variety of dishes found on the chifa’s menus and it is what egg drop soup is in US Chinese establishments, the introduction to a local Chinese meal.
This light soup contains broth as well as strips of chicken or pork. It also has cooked wontons, cabbage, and noodles as fine as hair. People season the soup at the table with a touch of soy sauce (called siyao in Peru), green onions (called Chinese onions in Peru), and minced ginger (called kion in Peru). The combination depends on the guests and on the different restaurants.
What is certain is that wonton soup opens appetite in the chifas of Cusco and makes people want to dig into the main dish they ordered. It has gained popularity because of its light taste. It is the starred companion of all the variety of dishes on the menu though it also can be enjoyed alone, as a main course in itself.
Whenever I feel the desire to eat a Chinese dish–whether a fried rice (called arroz chaufa in Peru), a stir-fry with Chinese noodles (tallarín saltado), or a chicken in oyster sauce (chijaukay)–I always order a wonton soup. It is the beginning that makes the meal work. It helps me keep my patience as I await my main course. Wonton soup is a delight.