Chifa: The Delicious Peruvian-Chinese Fusion Cuisine

Read more about my gastronomical adventure to Madam Tusan, one of Lima's classiest Peruvian Asian fusion restaurants.
A plate of chifa (Peruvian-Chinese fusion food), complete with a fried wonton and salsa tamarindo.
A plate of chifa complete with a fried wonton. Image: "Chinese food (chifa) at Chifa Real - San Isidro - Lima Peru" by David Berkowitz is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Foodies rave about Peru’s unique concoctions and innovative cuisine fusions that redefine how we use ingredients – to boldly conceive what no chef has conceived before. Lima‘s star chef, Gastón Acurio, does just that with his chic restaurant, Madam Tusan. This restaurant is inspired by the Peruvian chifa, a variation of Asian cuisine prepared with Peruvian ingredients. Like a culinary chemist, Acurio creates exotic and enticing seafood and meat specialties with Peruvian and Oriental flavor blends of soy, ginger, ají and rocoto; garnished with mint, orange, and the fruit of bamboo shoots. I recently ate at Madam Tusan for a first-hand taste of these delicious flavors, an experience that left me looking forward to my next visit! 

The birth of the chifa in Peru

After slavery was abolished in 1854, Chinese and Japanese immigrants came to Peru primarily to replace African slaves as indentured servants and field laborers. They integrated themselves into Peruvian society, and soon discovered that many of the ingredients they normally used for authentic Asian dishes were expensive and hard to come by. Many of the scarce ingredients from the Orient were replaced by ingredients commonly found in Peru, and thus the culinary fusion of chifa was born.

The term chifa refers not only to the hybrid of popular Asian cuisine in Peru, but also is the name of the restaurants that serve it. Chifa became popular in Lima in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and fostered some of the most delicious dishes in Peru today. In fact, one of the most famous Peruvian dishes, Lomo Saltado, was first created in a chifa kitchen.

Madam Tusan: Chifa served with style

Madam Tusan decor, Lima, Peru, Peru For LessThe view from the second floor of Madam Tusan
Photo by Kathleen McAfee / Peru For Less

The intriguing and delicious combination of Asian and Peruvian flavors inspired fellow blog contributor, Britt F., and I to check out this popular cuisine firsthand. After gathering a bit of intel, we decided to visit Gastón Acurio’s restaurant Madam Tusan located in the upscale Miraflores district.

Upon entry, we immediately noticed the use of intricate Asian design and decoration. The large red dragon swooping down from the second level of the two-story restaurant is remarkably captivating, although it’s not the center piece of the room. The overall ambience is relaxed and intimate, but the second floor offers more seating for larger groups and parties. There is even a private dining room for exclusive reservations that seats up to 14 people.

Madam Tusan dining, Lima, Peru, Peru For LessEnjoy the intimacy of Madam Tusan’s exclusive dining room.
Photo by Kathleen McAfee / Peru For Less

After being seated at our quiet table for four, we began to explore the menu, which describes every starter, specialty, soup, rice, drink, and dessert in full detail. They even have a menu in English! After careful deliberation with our knowledgeable waitress, we settled on the Fiesta de Bocaditos – dim sum party sampler (stuffed dumplings)- for the appetizer, and the Pulpo de la Plancha and Lomito Saltado Tusan for the main dish. The food was brought to the table on sizzling hot plates and placed in the middle to share.

Madam Tusan Desserts, Lima, Peru, Peru For LessA lovely sampler of desserts to compliment the delicious meal: vanilla and orange cheesecake, chocolate-hazelnut wantoncitos, and decadent alfajor.
Photo by Kathleen McAfee/ Peru For Less

Our food was phenomenal, and we absolutely could not pass up dessert. We couldn’t decide on just one, so the manager kindly let us sample some of his favorites. Presented to us were decadent wantancitos (fried wontons filled with warm chocolate-hazelnut cream drizzled with orange and cinnamon honey sauce); zesty orange and vanilla cheesecake; and a slice of alfajor (a popular Peruvian dessert) infused with lúcuma (an exotic jungle fruit and manjar blanco (a caramel-like cream).

Overall, our classy chifa experience cost us about S/. 70 (US$25) per person, which isn’t bad for dining at one of the finest restaurants in Lima. Experience this chifa gem for yourself on your next visit to Lima!

At a glance

Address: Avenida Santa Cruz 859, Miraflores, Lima (near Ovalo Gutierrez)
Phone number: (01) 5055090
Price: $$
Credit Cards Accepted: Yes
Reservations: Yes, especially for dinner and weekends
Ambiance: Intimate, but upstairs dining for larger groups
Attire: Dressy Casual
Best for: Lunch and Dinner

Peruvian gastronomical adventures

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Helpful online resources

Learn more about Asian-Peruvian heritage here.
Check out the Madam Tusan website
Here is a great recipe for chifa style fish anticuchos.