Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Ecuador and Peru have a lot of Chifas, i.e. Chinese restaurants. The term originates from Chinese chifan, let's eat. Until five years ago, most of the Chifas are not run by Chinese people. It is like in the US that one does not need to be Italian to run a pizza joint. However, in the last few years many immigrants from Guangdong and Fujian have joined the ranks. An easy way to tell the difference is that Chinese-run restaurants are open all day and all days of the week - no siesta.

Most of the menu items look familiar, but in Peru, there is a curious entry: aeropuerto (airport). I had to ask someone. It is rice and noodles fried together with bean sprouts and normally has chicken also, so we have not had one. Otherwise, Chifas are safe bets where we can normally fill ourselves up with vegetable fried rice (Chaufan), open vegetable egg omelets over french fried potatoes (tortilla de verduras), and noodles with veggies (tallarines con verduras).

Tallarines con verduras at a restaurant in Otavalo, Ecuador; run by a Chinese family who came to Ecuador 30 years ago
Chifa (Chinese Restaurant) - Otavalo, Ecuador

Tortilla de verduras con papas (front) and Chuafan (back) at Casa de Korea, also in Otavalo; run by non-Chinese.
Tortilla de verduras - Ovatalo, Ecuador

Chifa Hong Kong in Arequipa, Peru.
Chifa Hong Kong - Arequipa, Peru

Chifa Hong Kong in Casma, Peru.
Chifa Hong Kong - Casma, Peru


Cathy said...

Curious then to know if you have seen any other ethnic restaurants?

john said...

Good question. We have seen a few French restaurants, a few Italian restaurants, one Mexican restaurant. Ate at an Indian restaurant in Quito. Ate at a falafel restaurant somewhere and have seen a couple more.

Pizza is very popular; mostly independents but a least one Pizza Hut. Also a few Starbucks imitators.

But the most popular of all are roasted chicken places; many chains but also mom-and-pop joints. Ethnic? Is roasted chicken American food?