Three Chifas for You

You want Chinese food and you know that it is a good choice since Peru is known for its Chinese cuisine. You may have heard of La China, the best place in Cuzco, just off the Plaza, but want to try something else. Where do you go?

Fortunately, there are some good offerings close by. Maybe they are not as chic or well presented as La China, but they are cheaper and still very tasty.

Chinese food–chifa as it is locally called–has been growing in Cuzco. There are many places you can go.

Inside Chifa Capon
Inside Chifa Capon

If you do not mind taking a cab, just a few minutes from the Plaza a multi-storied glass building rises on Avenida Primavera 403. You climb up the short staircase and enter a light and airy world decorated with Chinese paintings and hangings. You are at the Restaurant Capon, one of the newest and best Chifas in Cuzco.

El Capon opened some eight months ago and has quickly won popular acclaim as the best Chinese restaurant in the city, with the exception of El China.

It has a large menu with a range of dishes, from classic dim sum to an array of pork, chicken, sea food and vegetarian offerings. It also offers a creative selection of combinations.

Capon deserves its reputation. The food is good and tasty. This is definitely a good quality of Peruvian Chinese offerings. More varied than E China, but without the culinary school fuss.

If you would rather have something more classically Cuzco, then you will want to go to the Sipan Restaurant on Q´era Street (251), a short walk from the plaza.

Sipan, with its name that sounds vaguely Chinese but references a famous civilization of Peru´s north has been in Cuzco a long time. It also has two locales. If you find the Q’era Street chifa too cramped, you can always take a cab to the one on the Av. de la Cultura (2005), maybe seven or eight minutes away, where the restaurant is much larger.

Fried Rice (Arroz Chaufa) with Shrimp
Fried Rice (Arroz Chaufa) with Shrimp in Chifa Sipan

With Sipan you get a more classic Peruvian offering with its variety of chaufas (fried rices), tipakay (a sweet and sour), and chijaukay, a savory dish. Indeed, Peruvian chifa has its own names for food that seems similar to what you might get in the US but whose names and preparations make them just slightly differently.

The only thing I did not like at Sipan was the bottle of soy sauce (or siyao) on the table. It tasted bitter and bad. I tasted from a couple of other tables to see if this was an oddity and they all tasted off. Otherwise, Sipan is a reasonable bet.

If you prefer a more hole-in-the-wall restaurant where you enter past the open cooking area and the people doing your cooking are Chinese, then you might wish to walk from the Plaza down Tullumayo Street, past Limacpampa, almost to Garcilaso street where you will find the narrow opening for Lymy (Tullumayo 775-A).

The menu is fairly small, for a Chinese restaurant, but covers all the bases. It emphasizes combinations of a wan ton soup with a main course composed of one dish and fried rice.

Dim Sum
Dim Sum in Chifa Capon

To the sound of the chefs chatting in Chinese while scraping and popping food around a hot wok, and to the scents of stir fry on intense heat, you will be served your soup. The broth is light but has depth of flavor. It is better than the soup at most local chifas, pure and simple.

You will also find your dishes well prepared and tasty. They seem somewhere in between the Peruvian code. The preparation and style seem more tuned to chop sticks than forks, even if no one is using them.

Chinese food is always a good option in Cuzco. In any of these places you will rub shoulders with local people also out for a meal, unlike in most of the restaurants on the Plaza

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