photo credit: Chifa Du Kang
Chifa Du Kang
Peru has one of the largest Chinese immigrant populations in Latin America, and Lima has one of the region’s largest Chinatowns. It’s no wonder, then, that Chinese food has influenced Peruvian cooking in a pretty major way. Dishes like lomo and chaufa (fried rice) have Chinese roots and are mainstays at many Peruvian restaurants. However, there is a whole category of Peruvian-Chinese food called chifa, and Chifa Du Kang is the place in Miami to sample this unique hybrid style of cooking. The chi jau kai, a dish of boneless fried chicken drenched in a black bean and five spice gravy, is the first thing to order at this casual Bird Road spot. The chicken is crisp on the outside and super juicy on the inside, while the sauce is complex from the fermented black beans and warm spices. To counter the saltiness, pair this dish with kam lu wantan - crunchy fried wontons topped with a combination of proteins, veggies, and boiled quail’s eggs in a sweet and sour tamarind sauce.
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Sopa Pac Pow
This is a classic Peruvian-Chinese soup, and Chifa Du Kang does a great version that is pretty close to what you can get in Lima’s “barrio chino.” It’s essentially the love child of egg drop soup and special fried rice. Chifa Du Kang’s sopa pac pow comes with beaten egg, roasted pork, shrimp, chicken, and green onion like a proper special fried rice. However, instead of rice, this soup has slippery, chewy, and transparent mung bean noodles.
Chi Jau Kai
This is another Peruvian-Chinese favorite that deserves every bit as much attention as lomo saltado. A whole fillet of dark meat chicken gets pounded thin, coated in a cornstarch batter and fried until crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It gets chopped up, plated, scattered with snow peas, and smothered in an oyster sauce-infused gravy scented with just a hint of Chinese five spice powder. It’s one of the most addictive dishes here.
The lomo saltado here is a disappointment, especially considering that this dish is a chifa mainstay. The sauce tastes like the brown gravy you find in takeout staples, like beef and broccoli. Instead of chunks of seared sirloin, they use paper-thin strips of tenderized beef, like what you find in beef and broccoli. In fact, this dish is essentially beef and broccoli without the broccoli. To add insult to injury, Chifa Du Kang’s version subs flavorful red onions for cheaper white onions and adds sliced bell peppers. Avoid this and stick to the chi jau kai or sopa pac pow instead.