I have a goal of visiting as many Chinatowns as I can in the world. I’ve been excited to visit Lima’s, as I heard there are lots of Chinese immigrants. We went to the Barrio Chino today located in downtown Lima.
What is so interesting, is that all Chinatowns smell and look very similar. It smells dirty, yah, but it is urban and familiar. I don’t know why they have that smell, but they all have the same smell.
Chinese Restaurants in Peru are called Chifas and they are quite popular and widespread. It is supposed to be Chinese-Peruvian fusion, but I’ve observed heavy on the Chinese part.
We went to Wa Lok, and the nice Asian lady spoke Spanish and then English to us. I tried to say “Jasmine Tea” in Cantonese, but not sure she understood me. I never know what dialect people speak. We observed a large Chinese family in the restaurant and I tried to eavesdrop. They spoke a different dialect, but then spoke Cantonese too. We knew this place was legit from some research, but mainly because it was packed and had both Chinese and Peruvians.
It’s always interesting trying to decipher the menu. I am familiar with the food items but not with Chinese writing or the way it might be translated into Spanish. The lady gave us a paper to mark our dim sum (in pinyin and Spanish) and a full menu in Spanish and English. I was successful though and the food arrived in the form as I predicted. Everything tasted “authentic” and my baseline is that good dim sum should taste like good dim sum, anywhere…LA, Hong Kong, or Lima. What a cultural experience in Peru!
It was good dim sum. My favorite was the fried Man Tao served with condensed milk for dipping goodness. It’s hard to find Man Tao, fried buns, in LA. I was introduced to it in Hong Kong. We also ordered Siu Mai, Haa Gao, Haa Chong Fun (or as they call it, langostinos), Cha Sui Bao and Nai Wong Bao (the dim sum standards: Steam Pork Dumplings, Steamed Shrimp Dumplings, Shrimp rolls wrapped in rice noodle in soy sauce, BBQ Pork Baos and Milk Baos. I ordered too much as usual, for a party of 2, so we have the baos for snacks.
Given all that I ordered, the bill was S/.62.50 and I tipped S/.6.50 = S/.69 or ~$26. Not cheap, cheap, but not bad! There were lots of Peruvians ordering Chaufa (Chinese-Peruvian Fried Rice); it was a big order so glad I didn’t order it. It looks just like fried rice but I think it might have some Peruvian flavors. Excited to try.
I was a happy girl today!
The Barrio Chino de Lima is not that big (only 2 blocks) and has everything any Chinatown has. Street vendors/peddlers, dirt/sewage, diversity, Chinese Markets, crowded streets, and lots of restaurants. They had a dude selling Yeaw Czah Gway (Chinese Churros) that I was tempted to buy. The area has run down buildings and lots of street activity, which reminds me of the Garment District and Broadway Blvd. in downtown LA. So, I felt right at home. The majority of the workers and people on the streets were non-asian.