Dishes 108 and 109: Red Curry del General and Pork Belly Buns at Chifa, http://www.chifarestaurant.com
Colleen and I had dinner at Chifa recently—and at the time, I was not aware that Chifa’s style of cuisine, a fusion of “creole Limean” and Cantonese (Wikipedia) was an established type in Peru. Or anywhere. It’s a strange mix, wouldn’t it seem? The Cantonese that immigrated to Peru in the early 1900’s continued to import what Chinese spices they could and planted some of their native vegetables, while also integrating features of the local cuisine. When they first opened restaurants, the upper class became intoxicated with the flavors, and the “chifas”, as they were called, were a runaway hit.
But in the charming way that Jemaine and Bret of Flight of the Conchords retain their distinct Kiwi flavor (flavour?) even in their harsh New York surroundings, Chifa preserves distinct Chinese flavor while incorporating South American ingredients. Although not quite so endearing as bus tours led by the Prime Minister or sporadic appearances by prominent sheep-about-town, the curry and pork belly buns were unique and tasty. Colleen enjoyed the creamy-spicy flavor of the curry that vaguely recalls the thai cuisine we enjoyed with the Main Line Mama, and we both loved the melt-in-your-mouth texture and sweetness of the pork belly. The buns were almost sticky, like steamed buns, lightweight and sugary.
Today the Kiwis earned a tie with the Italians—very impressive, and though I love the Azzurri, the left ventricle of my heart is reservedly solely for New Zealand. (Childhood love never fades.) In their offbeat way, they win you over… just how Philly thought it loved Italian, until it met Chifa.