Peruvian-Chinese cuisine dazzles at Chifa at Eagle Rock – Pasadena Star News

With an estimated Asian population of 600,000, Peru is second after Brazil in South America when it comes to Asian influence – and that influence, unsurprisingly, runs through all the food.

Some notable examples: Nobu Matsuhisa, whose sushi concepts have spread across the world, has Peruvian roots. Also, Gastón Acurio, whose restaurants can be found all over South America, as well as the United States, but unfortunately not in SoCal. And in the case of Chifa, the dazzling food (and the look) is the work of the Leon family – Humberto, Wendy and Ricardina, as well as Leon by marriage John Liu – who brings the cuisine of the original Chifa, in Lima, to an original space in Eagle Rock. , with a large dining room in the adjacent parking lot.

The name “Chifa” is a variation of Cantonese chi fan – “to eat rice”. Rice is essential when it comes to cooking – rice goes on every plate, the rest of the food is used as a condiment, in the traditional Chinese way. And that’s about the only element of dining in Chifa that can be described as ‘traditional’. As you stroll through the outdoor dining area, spend time gazing in wonder at the restaurant, with its open kitchen and deeply designer look by Humberto.

The heart-shaped window on the right side of the door may be the most modest part of the Chifa look. The floors and table tops are variations of a kind of heather green. The walls are almost indescribably scratched, much like an old black and white TV that needs adjusting; I found them just a little dizzying to watch for too long. The seats are dark green and oval with backs that seem comfortable or uncomfortable – I hope to find out someday. Some of the lights are globes, others look like deep sea creatures floating through the restaurant. It’s remarkable… but very busy.

It’s different from outdoor seating, which is simple, comfortable, and well sheltered from random gusts of wind. And a good space to consider, first of all, the fancy world of alternative drinks available to wet your whistle while browsing the modestly sized menu.

At the bottom of the list it says “Soda: ask waiter for selection”. But I’m not here for a Diet Coke, even if an Inca Kola sounds great. But more appealing is Tong Ling Cha, colorfully described as “hand-drawn lemon iced tea.” What “hand-drawn” means, I don’t know. But it sounds.

Lai Chua is also “hand-pulled” – although in this case it is “Hong Kong-style milk tea”. There is more tea – “Silk and Jade Pot Tea” available in jade oolong (“refreshing green”), silk oolong (“all day”), amber oolong (“warming black”) and ginger elixir. And there’s chicha morada, a drink made from Peruvian purple corn, flavored in this case with pineapple and pomegranate. When even the drinks are so outrageous, you know the food will be a treat.

  • Maybe next day we can dine inside the Chifa again, but restaurant reviewer Merrill Shindler says there’s no need to wait to enjoy what’s coming out of the kitchen. . (Photo by Merrill Shindler)

  • This is part of the Chifa’s outdoor dining area at Eagle Rock. (Photo by Merrill Shindler)

  • The heart-shaped window to the right of Chifa’s door provides a glimpse of the interior of the dining room. (Photo by Merrill Shindler)

You will notice references to “Popo” in two of the dishes. Popo is Wendy Leon; it is the word for “maternal grandmother” in Cantonese, although it works well in almost all languages. (We should all have a Popo growing up!) So, we have the unbelievably delicious Si Yao Chicken – a classic poached Chinese half bird, cooked in Popo’s ‘fragrant aged soy sauce’, served with rice pudding. steamed garlic.

If you think all soy sauces taste the same, prepare to be shocked at the sheer… spiciness of Popo’s soybeans. And damn it, if the restaurant goes to the trouble of making their sauce, you know every detail has been carefully considered.

Grandma’s signature also appears on “Popo’s Wellness Soup”, which changes day by day as “Popo reads the weather to create a delicious, hearty broth that nourishes your body.” Which is so… grandma.

On a regular basis, expect “Daddy’s Beef Noodle Soup,” which we’re told is cooked for three days, by which time the brisket returns to its basics. In addition to the Si Yao chicken, there’s also a classic Peruvian pollo ala brasa, served with fries and a spicy aji sauce.

There are wonderful dan dan mian noodles with Sichuan sesame sauce. Black pepper shrimp in a sweet and spicy pepper sauce (head, of course), braised ribs, a char siu “brulee” of pork, steamed pork chopped by hand (not hand pulled) with shiitake mushrooms. And, of course, the anticuchos – Peruvian beef heart.

The fries are not French – they are Chinese fries with white pepper, green onions and serrano pepper, fried twice for added crispness. It works.

One of the four desserts is an ethnic collision – Hong Kong-style milk tea with a scoop of McConnell’s ice cream. What I look forward to. But not before the weather warms up a bit. It’s too cold now to think of anything other than tea… and more tea. This is how grandma would like it to be.

Merrill Shindler is an independent Los Angeles-based food critic. Send an email to mreats@aol.com.

Chifa

  • Evaluation: 3 stars
  • Address: 4374 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Eagle Rock
  • Information: 323-561-3084; www.chifa-la.com
  • Food: Peruvian-Asian
  • When: Dinner only, from Friday to Sunday
  • Details: Exotic non-alcoholic drinks; seats outside
  • Atmosphere: Just a short drive from old Pasadena, this Peruvian-Asian offers a limited menu of dishes with limitless flavors. Go with friends and order too much – you won’t regret a bite.
  • Prices: About $ 18 per person
  • Cards: MC, V


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