The urban madness that is Barrio Chino is one of Lima’s most exhilarating and delicious neighborhoods to find yourself. It is the home of Chinese immigrants and the brith place of chifa food (Chinese-Peruvian food) while also being one of the main centers of commerce in the city, with more than a couple wild Latin American markets. Here is our guide to exploring the best of Barrio Chino in Lima.
Chifa is the name for Peruvian-Chinese food, a combination Chinese culinary elements mixed with Peruvian ingredients and traditions—and the result is delicious. So good, in fact, that you’ll find chifa restaurants everywhere you go in Peru. And you can’t go to a better place to eat your chifa than Barrio Chino, the birthplace of this mouth-watering cuisine.
One of the main draws for non-tourists to Barrio Chino is the shopping. Peruvians flock to the area to buy all their food and household items at discounted price. You’ll hear bullhorns sounding off in the background, as a lady next to you screams her new oferta (offer). Becuase you’ll find so many Peruvians in one place it has become a place for tourists to pop their head into to get a peak at the Peruvian market scene. It’ll also give you a good idea about where your food is all coming from.
While there are giant markets with hundreds of people milling around, you’ll also find little specialty tea and spice stores. There you’ll find products straight from China and other Asian countries. It’s also the best place to go to buy all your favorite teas, which you won’t find at other grocery stores in Peru.
The main street is lined with Chinese-themed ornaments and decorations, including benches that have a very distinct Chinese feel. The restaurants line the main streets adding the finishing touches on a China Town that can compete with the best of them.
Everyone comes to Barrio Chino to do some of the day’s bargaining. People from all over the city come here to buy supplies for work and home, so it is without a doubt one of the largest centers of commerce in the entire city, a fact that makes it one of the best places to people-watch in the city. You’ll see all shapes and sizes of Peruvians here and get a better understanding of the country’s great diversity.
While of course the chifa is the big draw here, you also have to make a pitstop or two for the street food. You’ll find fresh ceviche, anticuchos and plenty of other Peruvian delicacies awaiting you on nearly every street corner—just make sure that you have some room for seconds and thirds.
While chifa is already on the list, you also need to make sure that you try chaufa and lomo saltado, which are chifa staples and some of the most popular dishes in all of Peru. Lomo saltado is beef strips cooked in a wok along with vegetables and french fries, while cahufa is the Peruvian version of fried rice, which is served at almost every restaurant as a main dish. You can’t leave Peru without trying either of these dishes and there’s no better place to order these than in Barrio Chino.