What Peruvian dish are you going to have at Chifa Comida Latino?
Peruvian cuisine is already a fusion of different tastes—a melding of cultures—brought in by the immigrants. But aside from the extensive use of corn and tubers, it is especially known for using different kinds of peppers that not just bring hotness or spiciness but also to add flavor and aroma to a certain dish.
Here in Bacolod, we can also experience authentic Peruvian cooking at Chifa Comida Latino, located at 17th-Lacson Streets, Bacolod City. Hubby and I spent a beautiful evening at Chifa together with one of the owners, Luis Alfonso Kilayko, who introduced us to the wonders of Peruvian flavors. His business partner and BFF, Paolo Consing, is a chef who has studied hotel and restaurant management here before he immersed himself in Latin American cooking during his stay in Miami, Florida, USA. Naturally, Paolo is the one manning the kitchen while Luis is in-charge of the front-end of their restaurant.
Chifa, literally means the Chinese way of cooking using ingredients found in Peru. Here in the Chifa restaurant, we have discovered subtleties in cooking styles and in the use of culinary herbs, which alter the flavor and aroma of the dishes that we are kind of familiar with, but the food is nothing out of this world. They are completely relatable to the local palate, but with a certain twist, a certain kick, that is the signature of Peruvian cuisine. Luis says that to maintain the authenticity of their food, they import different kinds of chili paste from Peru to make sure that they only offer the real thing.
The restaurant is rather small, which can seat up to about 40 people if you count the tables outside. The seats are refurbished yet comfortable. Inside the restaurant, there is a certain atmosphere of quiet festiveness, nothing raucous or alcoholic, but there is something that lifts the spirit. I guess you may attribute it to the lively paintings on the wall, which we were told, were supposed to mask the glass panels so that the diners could not be seen outside and vice versa. It is air conditioned and there are clean restrooms for men and women, which is not commonplace I should say, for small, start-up restaurants.
Luis guided us from the appetizer to their main course and finally to the sweet endings. It was a lovely time, filling the tummy with wonderful food and immersing ourselves in the culture and way of cooking of Peru.
Best Dishes to Order at Chifa Comida Latino
Here are the dishes that we tried, as recommended by Luis, that used different colored peppers. Here is how we appreciated them, from a noob’s standpoint. Check them out.
Tiraditos. An appetizer (in the family of our very own kinilaw) of fresh slices of white fish served in a mildly spicy sauce of lime and aji amarillo (yellow pepper). It is best to consume this within 10 minutes of serving while the fish is still translucent and not yet white, because that means it has not been cooked through by the spices. Then you will be able to savor the freshness of the fish and appreciate its taste and texture. Dip the sliced fish on all sides in the sauce before putting the whole slice in your mouth.
Ceviche Pescado. This is another fish appetizer like our kinilaw but this is much more interesting. And I could eat the entire plate and that would constitute my meal already. Two thumbs up for this! This is white fish soaked in a spicy sauce using aji ricoto (red pepper). But it is served with sidings of sweet potato, cilantro, and generous amounts of red onion slivers. You have to mix everything before eating, making sure that you have the kamote, cilantro, onions, and the fish with each bite. Then close your eyes and you can just taste all these strong fresh flavors burst in your mouth. I could not stop eating this!
Aji de Gallina. I believe this was pan-seared chicken, kind of crisp on the surface and tender and juicy on the inside. It is served on a thick, creamy-cheesy pepper sauce called Huancaína. Just go slow on the sauce especially where there is Parmesan cheese because it might get salty, as the chicken is already seasoned.
Lomo Saltado. One of Chifa’s specialties, this beef dish is very tender and flavorful because it has undergone dry aging. It is stir-fried with tomatoes, onions, and herbs. Eat the tomatoes with the beef, they are very flavorful. Though this is for one, this could easily be shared because it is a big order.
Karne con Tamarindo. This is softened beef short ribs in tamarind sauce served with young corn and broccoli. Soft and tender and flavorful, but this dish is quite sour because of the tamarind sauce. This is not your usual sweet and sour dish.
Arroz Chaufa. Peruvian fried rice with corn, chorizo, and other fresh ingredients. This is for those who would like to include carbs for their meal. This is really good and flavorful, with a strong pepper taste. You have to consider that they do not use MSG for their cooking so most of the flavors come from the herbs and spices.
Pescado Fresca. We have not tried this but this is their fish specialty for their main course. It is pan-seared white fish served on a bed of stir-fried vegetable medley.
Chifa Comida Latin is open from Wednesdays to Mondays,
11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm. They are CLOSED ON TUESDAYS.
Peruvian Coffee and Desserts
Luis explained to us that Peruvians like their desserts very sweet and with lots of milk and consumed with coffee. So we had their black Cafe Bustelo–Peruvian coffee. First time I had my coffee black as I had to tame the really sweet desserts we had. Their coffee is not bitter and it complements the desserts so you can easily drink it without having the extra sugar and cream.
So, which one are you going to try first? Visit Chifa at the 17th-Lacson Streets, Bacolod City, during lunch and dinner. They are closed on Tuesdays.