Chifa: as the Chinese food prepared in Peru is known has nothing to do with the same dishes executed in other parts of the world. But it is as good, or even better. Why? Discover the answer with Peru by Bus.


The origins of Chifa

Towards the middle of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Cantonese immigrants arrived in Peru in search of improvements in their quality of life. However, those who arrived experienced labor situations similar to slavery. In the end, some decided to flee their jobs and move to different cities to start small business. Chinese then became known for owning grocery stores and restaurants, which will late be called “chifas”.

Chifa
Foto: cangrejonegro.wordpress.com

Chinese immigrants who lived in Lima settled near the Historic Centre, giving rise to the popular “Barrio Chino”, located in “Calle Capón” in Cercado de Lima. Then the foreigners began mixing the cuisine of both countries and thus the famous chifa was born.

¿What is chifa?

Chifas are restaurants that serve a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese food. It is a Peruvian word used to define the mixture of the gastronomy of both countries. Those who have thoroughly studied the history of Peruvian cuisine argue that the origin of the term comes from the combination of the Cantonese words chi and fan, meaning, respectively, “to eat” and “rice”. Then, the word chifa would have appeared in the 1930s among Lima locals when they heard the Chinese use the chifan voice as a call to eat at their food stalls.

Chifa
Foto: Flickr de Pablo Matamoros

The taste of Chinese food prepared in restaurants in Peru is totally different from the rest of the world. Why is that? The answer is simple. Due to lack of ingredienta native to china, cooks began using local products and techniques. In time, this gave chifa a unique taste.

¿What dishes should I order?  

Dishes  such as arroz chaufa, sopa wantán, tallarín saltado or the famous chi jau kay have become part of the peruvian tradition. Arroz chaufa, consists of fried rice mixed with vegetables, tortilla and meat. Tallarín saltado is a recipe based on wheat noodles that are sautéed with vegetables and wok meat. Different meats and wantanes prepared with tamarind sauce also stand out.

We cannot fail to mention the chicken chi jau kay, a dish that has hoisin sauce and mensi and in which boneless thighs are coated with chuño flour and dehydrated potatoes.

¿Where can I eat chifa?

The best chifas are the Wa Lok, located in Cercado the Lima and Miraflores, with star dishes as the chicken chi jau kay, ribs with vinegar and noodles with curry meat; and Chifa Titi, in Javier Prado Este, a place of reference in Peruvian cuisine. With three consecutive recognitions in the Summum Awards in the Chinese food category, Titi is part of the ranking of the best restaurants in Peru.

It is worth noting that you can find chifas for all budgets in Peru’s streets. Feel free to explore! There are approximately 6000 chifas in Peru, and most are extremely good!


It is no secret to anyone that Peruvian cuisine is one of the best in the world. This recognition is due to the ability of our ancestors to adapt their ingredients, techniques and traditions to certain customs of the Spanish conquerors and Chinese, Italian, Japanese and African immigrants.