Friday, January 8, 2016

China Chilcano

China Chilcano celebrates the rich culinary diversity of Peru and brings an exciting exploration of this multicultural cuisine to our nation’s capital. The restaurant honors Peru’s deeply rooted and diverse heritage, including its native Criollo, Chinese Chifa and Japanese Nikkei cuisines; its name an homage to Peru’s renowned fish stew and its popular national drink, the chilcano. Discover Chef José Andrés and team’s unique take on contemporary Peruvian cuisine with bold flavors, heady aromas and the buzz of excited diners that take you on a sensorial journey that is anything but everyday.  Closest Metro is Archives- Naval Memorial.

Almost a year ago to date, Keith and I visited Peru.  So it only seemed fitting to dine at China Chilcano and reflect back on Peru's culinary delights.  First, we ordered drinks.  I chose the Chicha Punch made with vodka, Combier L’Original, chicha morada, red wine, and cava.  It was the perfect punch for winter and was very similar to sangria.  Keith ordered one of the chef's favorites - Perú Libre made with Ron Cartavio Black Peruvian rum, Mexican Coke, vanilla, and lime.  We enjoyed these cocktails while nibbling on the canchita - a Peruvian snack of salted unpopped corn.

Our waiter then reviewed the menu with us and suggested 2 to 3 plates per person for sharing.  We were familiar with most of the dishes, so had a decent game plan in mind.  The ceviche special stood out, so we ordered that first.  The Ceviche de Pulpo was super fresh and bright with all the citrus and had the right amount of spice from the peppers.  I loved the large sweet corn bits and the added red onion for bite.

We also chose the Lucky 12 - a stacked sampling of the dorado, concha, and pollo dim sums.  The dorado is made with pork, shrimp, jicama, shiitake mushroom, and peanut topped with golden egg. It was most bland of the three. The concha is made with scallop, pork, jicama, shiitake mushroom, and tobiko.  This one had more seafood flavor and was pretty traditional like siu mai.  The pollo is made with chicken, scallion, cloud ear mushroom, and ají amarillo for extra spice.

Keith tried an anticucho of Lengua de Pato.  Grilled duck tongue was served on a skewer with peewee potato, ají amarillo, and cape gooseberry.  The duck was surprisingly tender and almost fatty.

Next, we shared some heavier dishes.  I really wanted to order the Ají de Gallina - Peru’s most precious dish.   This chicken stew is made with Ají amarillo, fresh cheese, pecans, and served with a side of rice.  And I'm so glad we did - it was delicious!  Savory, not as spicy as expected, and very satisfying.  We didn't get a chance to eat the original version while in Peru, but I am glad I got to experience it here.  I would totally order this dish regularly.

Keith ordered his favorite Peruvian stand-by dish, Lomo Saltado.  Chef José's version combines Peruvian and Chinese flavors in this Hanger steak with tomato, soy sauce, shishito pepper, shoestring potato, and a side of rice.  The sauce was definitely a bit sweeter, but the meat was cooked well and overall this was a nice dish.

Lastly, we shared the Chaufa Aeropuerto with Shrimp.  Fried rice, egg noodle, crisp sweet potato, 20 seasonal vegetables, and soy bean sprout topped with carrot “airplanes” cutouts.  This dish was very flavorful, a bit salty, but again another favorite of mine from the whole evening.  The shrimp were large and plump and cooked just right.  With the other heavier plates we already ate, we were almost too full to truly enjoy this dish, but had no problem finishing it all.

All in all we had a decent meal at China Chilcano.  The food reminded us of our great trip, the service was spot on, but the prices were a little steep for the size of the 'shareable' plates.  Nevertheless, the fusion cuisine offers something different and unique to the area.

UPDATE: This restaurant was awarded Bib Gourmand in October 2016.

Total Rating: 3.7
Food: 4, Price: 2.5, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 5

China Chilcano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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