Estimated at 1.5 million people (around 5 % of the country’s population), Peru’s ethnic Chinese community is the largest in Latin America. Its center and de facto capital is the Barrio Chino, or Chinatown, in Lima’s historic center.
On February 1st we went to have a look what was going on for the Chinese New Year between the 7th and 8th block of Jirón Ucayali in downtown, a stretch almost universally referred to as Calle Capón, a name acquired during the Spanish Colonial period as it was the location of the market for castrated pigs.
Few international tourists venture here, but for those seeking a detour off the beaten path, the neighborhood offers a rich mix of culinary and cultural delights!
Like Chinatowns in other countries, Lima’s Chinatown is also a source of Chinese ingredients and a hub of Chinese cuisine. There are over 6000 Chinese restaurants in Lima called “Chifas”, and some of the most renown and venerable of these chinese eateries are located in Chinatown. The San Joy Lao, for example, was first established before 1920. Other notable chifas in the neighborhood include the Salón China, Wa Lok, and Sala Capón.
What to Do When you go to Lima China Town? EAT. Locals of all nationalities flock to Lima’s Chinatown for its well-regarded chifas — the best on offer in a city that treasures its own unique take on Chinese cuisine — and markets offering a range of hard-to-find ingredients. The sopa udon (udon noodle soup) at Ucayali on 628 Jiron Ucayali is about the best you’re liable to find anywhere. The place serves delicious fried yucas for dipping, and is very popular with the locals. Expect to wait for a table (it’s worth it).
At the Chinese groceries along Paruro, travelers can find amble among exotic spices, Buddhist icons and the chifas over here are superb. The Galeria Comercial Barrio Chino is also worth a look. The indoor market is choked with shoppers on the weekend seeking deals on everything from pots and pans to Chinese teas and incense.
Best time to go? Midday, when chifas and eateries are serving their fixed menus and markets are filled with vendors, is the best time to visit Lima’s Chinatown.
How to get there? From the Plaza de Armas in the historic center of Lima, head south a block and hang a left on Jr. Ucayali. Walk down about five blocks before reaching the Arco Chino, or Chinatown gate. Best is to go with somebody who knows the area. (check out our website and tours at Vamos Expeditions: http://www.vamosexpeditions.com)
No time to go all the way to China Town? No worries, below we also share with you our some delicious dishes and the decor of Peru’s most fancy Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian Fusion restaurant) from chef Gaston Acurio: ‘Chifa Madam Tusan’, located in Miraflores. As well, highly recommended by Vamos Expeditions for a great culinary adventure.
Happy Chinese Year of the Horse! Feliz año nuevo Chino del Caballo!