Bart

China Chilcano - Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian) in a 7,000-Foot Space in Penn Quarter

35 posts in this topic

According to the Best Bites Blog this location will be a new Jose Andres Chifa concept.

Here's Tom S's input from the Post.

There are only 4 comments.  3 positive and 1 negative, but it made me laugh:  "he should stick to spanish tapas...even jaleo sucks and now he wants to venture into chifa?"  It's rough out there!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to the Best Bites Blog this location will be a new Jose Andres Chifa concept.    

Here's Tom S's input from the Post.

There are only 4 comments.  3 positive and 1 negative, but it made me laugh:  "he should stick to spanish tapas...even jaleo sucks and now he wants to venture into chifa?"  It's rough out there!

China Chilcano, 418 7th St NW, DC, is opening on Jan. 5, 2015 (via Maura Judkis' tweet).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More info here from the Washingtonian, including this:

...Take a seat at the raw bar to see Nikkei, Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, in action. Former Sushi-Ko chef Koji Terrano teamed up with Think Food Group for the restaurant, and may be spotted behind the bar making ceviches, sashimi, and "causaki."...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Andrés used to eat a fair amount at Sushi-Ko when Koji was there, so this is logical. Koji will have some learning to do, but he has the talent to do it.

I wonder if José will bring back those little old Mexican ladies pounding out the tortillas right at the entrance of the Crystal City Oyamel? They seemed to be hard workers - surely, some of their skills are transferable if they're still in the business. And they were so cute!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wandered in at 5:30 hoping to catch a seat at the bar, which was full, but we were offered a table, even though reservations had been limited for the (soft?) opening night

This restaurant is beautiful (and smaller than I imagined), and the service is equally attractive - casual but fairly polished. Cocktails were all on point, other than the "Ma Collins."

And the food was pretty to look at, and satisfying across the board. The ceviches are winners (but think composed, not hearty). There is a section of sushi/causa hybrids (causa being a Peruvian potato preparation); I enjoyed the uni. Siu mai came across as authentic, despite the inexplicable gold flakes (is that a thing?), and the vegetable fried rice dish was plenty tasty.

This menu admittedly plays into my wheelhouse, but despite my biases I would be surprised if this wasn't well-received broadly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Siu mai came across as authentic, despite the inexplicable gold flakes (is that a thing?),

yes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you notice if they had Lomo Saltado on the menu?  Peruvian/Chifa foods are among my favorites.  So excited to have this open!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

China Chilcano still seems to be in a soft opening-ish stage; I was informed when I called to ask about walk-ins that they were limiting capacity for table seating but that we would be welcome to try for bar seats.  Luckily we snagged two about five minutes after arriving at the half-empty restaurant at around 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday last week.  The space is larger than I'd expected, similar in vibe to the remodeled, cooler Jaleo, with a slightly nautical air thanks to heavy coils of rope hanging from various ceiling fixtures.  (I wasn't a fan of the rope; it weighed down an otherwise pretty airy space.)

 
We started well with the Papas a la Huancaina y Ocopa (Potato, ají­ amarillo sauce, huacatay sauce, fresh cheese).  A very plated version of what I understand to be a classic Peruvian dish: two rows of tiny, perfect halved potatoes,one dressed with yellow pepper sauce (a bit mayonnaise-y for my taste, but just a personal preference) and cheese, the other with a green huacatay sauce (black mint, an interesting herb that I'd first tried at Ocopa) and garnished with chopped nuts (walnuts?  pecans?).  Boiled quail egg halves also dotted the plate.  Excellent overall, and I particularly liked the vibrant huacatay sauce and crunchy nuts.  
 
Next arrived the Chupe de Camarí³n (Shrimp, fresh cheese, Peruvian corn, potato, poached egg, rice).  In Andres restaurant tradition, the broth was poured tableside -- or, in our case (for understandable space reasons), barside while still on the waiter's tray, which deprived us of a view of what was in the bowl before it was submerged.  Much less stew-like than I'd anticipated, I couldn't really distinguish any of the listed ingredients except the head-on shrimp and rice.  The thin broth was tasty but needed more salt and acid to really make it pop, and the rice bed at the bottom of the bowl tasted underseasoned.  
 
We were thoroughly disappointed by the Jaladito Norteí±o (Hamachi tiradito-style, ají­ amarillo leche de tigre, Peruvian corn, huacatay).  The hamachi was so fishy that we sent it back, and the leche de tigre on the one bite that I tried was surprisingly bland and needed acid.  (We are generally loathe to send a dish back unless there's something truly objectionable about it, but we both realized that we had no interest in eating more than our first bite each.)  Maybe just an off night/batch of fish, but not good.  
 
The Tiradito de Concha Abanico con Kumquats (Live scallop in half-shell, kumquat leche de tigre, masago pearls, tobiko) was much better.  The scallops tasted very fresh (as you'd expect from the "live" description), and I liked the sour-sweet of the kumquat. The pile of scallop slices was thickly ringed in jewel-red tobiko, which added salt when combined, but I found the scallop slices to be undersalted if not balanced with enough roe.  We were told to dredge the scallops in a tiny dish of masago rice pearls (presumably for texture?), which I found weird because then the first thing to hit my tongue was their unseasoned, bland rice flavor.  I liked but didn't love this dish; dishes with disparate components that require me to combine the elements just right to get proper seasoning and flavor are a pet peeve of mine.
 
Another high point of dinner was the Uni (Nigiri-style potato causa, fresh sea urchin, wasabi, masago pearls, yuzu).  Little rectangles of potato (with a pleasant surprise of jicama in the middle) were rolled in rice pearls (better here than in with the scallops) and topped with uni.  The uni flavor was more of an ensemble member than the star that I'd expected, but the overall combination was delicious.  
 
We really liked the Raspadilla de Chicha Morada (Shaved purple corn ice, lemongrass menjar blanco, pineapple), which prompted our neighbors at the bar to ask what we'd ordered when they saw the mound of vivid purple-red shaved ice.  Tasty in a fruity sort of way that wasn't noticeably corn flavored; if you'd told me it was hibiscus, I also would have believed that.  (Upon writing this, I think this purple corn might be the same thing that's used in the limeade-y drink that starts meals at Ocopa.)  The menjar blanco tasted like dulce de leche custard, which I love (although I didn't pick up on lemongrass).  A refreshing sweet end to dinner.  
 
The drink list isn't as extensive (or enticing, to me) as Ocopa's, but I enjoyed my Déjame Quererte (Quebranta Pisco, persimmon, cinnamon, lemon).  It was nicely acidic, not too sweet, and the cinnamon made it feel seasonally appropriate despite its otherwise light fruitiness.  The bf wasn't drinking so went with the Agua de Loco (Crazy man's water flavored with apple and cinnamon), which tasted pretty much as you'd guess from the description.  I liked it more than he did.  
 

As the second Peruvian restaurant to open in DC in five months, it's impossible for me to write about China Chilcano without comparing it to Ocopa (as this post reflects throughout). Maybe that's unfair, given that Ocopa has had more time to establish itself (and I've eaten there three times to CC's one), but fair or not, I cut such a seasoned chef and restaurateur as Chef Andres less slack than I would give to someone opening a first restaurant.  I'm always happy to go to Zaytinya, think barmini is fantastic, have had many excellent meals at minibar, Jaleo, and Oyamel over the years (and still miss Cafe Atlantico for brunch) -- all of which contribute to my expectations for any new addition to the empire.  While I found a number of things to like about CC -- and I liked it well enough that I'll go back in a few months -- it's currently clearly the inferior of the two Peruvian options in town on food and drinks.  (In contrast, my first meal at Ocopa back in September left me excited to return, and our recent third was the best yet.)  I'll definitely keep an eye on others' reports in the months to come.

11 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that detailed write up!

I don't know jack about Peruvian food, but this is a good primer.

Post more!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We ate here last night before the Caps game.  I am really surprised there is little discussion on this board about this place given that is was really good and i would definatly go back.

We got there at 5:45 it was fairly empty but an hour later it was full.  Service was great and our server really knew each dish as he was able to explain in detail what it was.  These are small plates meant to be shared, we had 4 plates and a bowl of chips and were really full.  The space is reaally nice and lively.

Plaintain chips with sweet potato sauce.  Good kick and a great way to start the meal.

Nobu Usuzukuri-This was flouder cerviche.  Beautiful slices of flounder with radish.  Plate was large and this was really good.

Lamb Potstickers- Another great dish.  Came with a lace of Cumin which added great flavor to each bite.

Aeropuerto-Advertised as fried rice with 20 vegtables.. Another great dish.  Lots of tiny chopped veggies with good flavor..Really didnt notice much rice at all.

Short Rib-I am always a sucker for Short Ribs and this was very good.

Jose Andres is one very smart guy and he has executed this concept very well.  Choose wisely on the menu and you will not be disappointed.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everyday for the last two years, my life is centered around Japanese food. (mostly sushi but there are a lot of tangent conversations about other aspects of the Japanese cuisine) So when I learned about Nikkei cuisine, I was very intrigued. And with Ocopa opening less than a mile from my house, I had a destination to quench my curiosity. Upon learning that Jose Andres, once a chef- now a great restaurateur, was opening what I perceive to be a Nikkei restaurant on steroids, I was happy to have another opportunity to experience this unique combination.

With my birthday approaching, my fiance wanted to surprise me with a nice dinner, so she made reservations. (She forgot to clear the history on her browser, so I quickly figured out where we were going to go) When we showed up on a Sunday evening, the place was about half full, by the time we left, they were almost close to capacity. One thing I noticed that surprised me was the amount of older (65+) clients. Maybe it was the time of our reservation, or maybe they had early bird specials we didn't know about, but half of the tables I observed was in the older crowd.

Service was laid back. Our server was very knowledgeable and I could sense his excitement to be part of their team. (Towards the end of the meal, I asked him when and how he joined the team, and he said that he is Peruvian and when he heard about the place, he quit his job and wanted to work there.)

For food, we tried hakao (steamed glass dumpling), sanguche de chancho nipon (pork belly),  uni causagris, engawa with uni nigiri, aji de gallina, nobu usuzukuri, and for dessert suspiro limena, and marcianos. Most enjoyable dishes for the night were the aji de gallina and suspiro limena. Instead of breaking each dish down to what was good or bad for me, I`ll say this, at Ocopa, I felt a sense of authenticity and I felt I was part of the establishment even if they had a rougher experience compared to China Chilcano. At China Chilcano, I felt a sense of being a spectator as if I was at Folger Theater, I was able to observe the experience, but my role was very defined; arrive, order, eat, and leave.

The restaurant itself is very polished and thinking about how much it would take to make a space that big this polished gives me wild dreams of what I can do with 1/10th of that budget. So it's nice to see that Mr. Andres and his team went all out to bring a new addition to our city. I think China Chilcano will find their line and define a standard and like all other restaurants under Mr. Andres' empire, perform at that level to those who want to experience an ethnic experience, but not that much.

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hung out here during the downpour yesterday.  It's a fun space and I'm a sucker for fusion food.  Thought everything was good to excellent.

Ceviche Clasico- fish was very fresh, mixed with sweet potatoes and little corn-nut like thingies.  Just a little bit of spice.  Very good.

Lucky Siu Mai- three types of dumplings (4 of each), including pork/shrimp (dorado), scallop (concha) and chicken (pollo).  All good though the Dorado was a standout with the peanut crunch and topped with a fried quail egg.

Sí¡nguche de Chancho Nipí³n- pork belly tucked into a lightly fried bun.  Combination with sauce and a bit of daikon makes this really stellar. Seems a bit overpriced at one bun for $8.

California Roll- potato is the base instead of rice.  Topped with crab salad and tobiko with really tasty, spicy sauce on the side.  Thought this was a little boring but really loved that sauce.

Concolí³n- first of two noodle/rice dishes, both must gets. This dish was prepared table side in a hot bowl.  Combination of pork belly, chicken, chinese sausage, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms (really juicy and delicious) and crispy fried rice.  A lot going on with all these tastes.  Can't decide it it's more like a Chinese version of bibimbap or a riff on Chinese sticky rice.  In any event, if you like this kind of thing, you'll find it delicious.

Aeropuerto- the menu says there are 20 vegetables.   Everything is chopped up fine along with some rice and thin noodles.  It's a really delicious mash-up when combined with a tasty soy-based sauce.

Kudos to Jose Andres for a unique concept. Only negative is the price.  It seems that the price for a proper meal here is $50-$60 per person and that's without drinks and dessert.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a tasty but overpriced lunch here yesterday.  It's hard to tell from the item descriptions which items will be large and which ones small - my friend's Arroz a la Cubano (White rice, fried eggs, fresh tomato, cucumber, fried plantain, fried potato) was at least twice as much food as my Dorado (7pc siu mai - golden egg, shrimp, pork, jicama, shiitake mushroom).  The siu mai were smaller than I'm used to (though each was topped with a soft-cooked small egg - maybe a quail egg? - so that made them a little more filling), and I had thought 7 of them would be enough for lunch with a side of veggies, but I was still fairly hungry after eating them.  They were delicious - though I definitely could have done w/o the gold leaf on top, which wasn't listed and which I'm sure added to the price - and I did not taste the peanut, but something crunched.  The arroz a la Cubano was a large bowl full, with two large eggs, two plantains, and everything else smaller and diced on top of the rice (along with an orange pepper that wasn't listed in the ingredients and that was very tasty) - since it was bigger than my friend wanted for her meal and I was still hungry, I had a fair amount of it.  We also shared the Jolantao (wok-charred sugar snap peas, jang, ponzu air), which were very tasty and in a nice flavorful sauce (soy-based, I think, but unusual tasting).

We shared Suspiro Limeí±a ("iconic dessert of Peru: sweetened condensed milk custard topped with soft and crunchy meringue, passion fruit"), which was lovely - the custard tasted a little like dulce de leche and we left none behind.

The horchata (which contains quinoa as well as almond milk and cinnamon) was excellent and had a bit of a different flavor from ones I've had before.

Service was extremely slow, though friendly, and lunch took much longer than it should have.

One annoyance to beware of:  the bathrooms contain chalk in the main outer area, and the stall walls are completely covered by many people's chalk writing - including on the stall door.  I hung my new purse on the hook on the back of the door without noticing this, and took it down covered in chalk that had rubbed off.  Luckily it came off with water, but if you have a delicate bag or jacket, do NOT hang it on the door.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

went with a friend from Peru and we all had a great time and wonderful food and drinks.

Small plates to share

The waitress was fun and eduational, the drinks were plentiful (5 spice old fashion was my favorite)

Everything was great but outstanding was the Nobu Usuzukuri (Ceviche), Dorado (Dim Sum), Lengua de Pato.

Was able to find a good mix of spicy and non (Two of us were non) and everyone had things they enjoyed.

Grandma:  Nope - food would be to strange for her and much to loud

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks.  That's a great hire by Jose Andres.  I'm sad to lose Chef Delgado on H Street, but will try China Chilcano again now that he's there.  In the past, my meals at Ocopa blew my meals at China Chicano out of the water. 

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Am I the only person who read this and got chills up my spine?

Somewhat tangential from your point, perhaps, but my impression of CC during my one brief visit there was that -- for all the glitter and delight -- it was utterly corporate, perhaps too perfect?  The decor, the food, the drinks, the staff -- all very sort-of wonderful, but all seemingly very planned out.  The package as a whole lacked a certain, I don't know, soul, for lack of a better word.  I would certainly drop by there again, if I were in the neighborhood, but it struck me more as an expense account place than a fun place.  I guess I just like things a little rough around the edges.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really enjoyed my meal at China Chilcano.  I've recommended the restaurant to others and they have all come back to me with nothing but positive things to say.  I think the hiring of Chef Delgado is brilliant.  I cannot wait to return.  

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My experience from the bar to the waitress to the busstaff wasn't planned corporate drone feeling at all, my experience had a 'real' spence to it, so hopefully you hit an off night ( and not me being the luck to just hit an on night)

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I admit that I was fully prepared to dislike China Chilcano, even as I made our reservation for dinner with the in-laws yesterday.  As Don and Waitman have mentioned, I snottily had my nose pre-elevated, sure that this corporate behemoth would fall far short of my scrappy neighborhood favorite, Ocopa.  About halfway through the meal, I shook my head, turned to my wife, and said it out loud...we were being served fabulous food that was on par with, and in some cases better than what we've eaten in our last few visits to Ocopa.

We ate through a good chunk of the menu, and frankly everything hit.  Stars of the evening were the Pegao Norteí±o (lamb potstickers with a crispy cumin "lattice"), the Hawaiian sunfish ceviche, and the Concolí³n (fried rice with a variety of meats).   A salad of hearts of palm served as a nice cool, acidic foil to the umami bomb of the fried rice.  If I had to replace anything, it may be the Aeropuerto (vegetable fried rice), if only because we were doubled up on the rice with the Concolí³n.

The scene is decidedly not small and comfortable, and the service is of the "may I explain Chef's concept" variety that annoys the shit out of me, but that aside, we had a very strong meal that I could comfortably recommend.

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JoshNE, just FYI, I've heard that the Ocopa chef is now at China Chilcano.

I admit that I was fully prepared to dislike China Chilcano, even as I made our reservation for dinner with the in-laws yesterday.  As Don and Waitman have mentioned, I snottily had my nose pre-elevated, sure that this corporate behemoth would fall far short of my scrappy neighborhood favorite, Ocopa.  About halfway through the meal, I shook my head, turned to my wife, and said it out loud...we were being served fabulous food that was on par with, and in some cases better than what we've eaten in our last few visits to Ocopa.

We ate through a good chunk of the menu, and frankly everything hit.  Stars of the evening were the Pegao Norteí±o (lamb potstickers with a crispy cumin "lattice"), the Hawaiian sunfish ceviche, and the Concolí³n (fried rice with a variety of meats).   A salad of hearts of palm served as a nice cool, acidic foil to the umami bomb of the fried rice.  If I had to replace anything, it may be the Aeropuerto (vegetable fried rice), if only because we were doubled up on the rice with the Concolí³n.

The scene is decidedly not small and comfortable, and the service is of the "may I explain Chef's concept" variety that annoys the shit out of me, but that aside, we had a very strong meal that I could comfortably recommend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i had a surprisingly nice lunch there today. they have a 3 course lunch for $20. I started with the quinoa salad, which was large (big enough for a light lunch on its own) and delicious. we really liked the addition of the crunchy fried quinoa and the tangy quinoa was punctuated with interesting little tidbits--one bite you'd get some nice potato, another you'd get these delicious little peppers. then i had the aeropuerto which was very good as well. it's not grondbreaking, it's like a typical fried rice except a lot more vegetables, but it's a really good fried rice with lots of toasty flavor either from the wok or the charred brussels in it. and it did have lots of fried carrot threads in it, which added a nice crunch. for dessert i had the grapefruit sorbet, which was creamer, and less tart than expected. i should have gotten the suspiro limena, as my friend did. it came with some passionfruit sorbet on top and that with the almost carmel flavored custard was great. 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MK and I walked into China Chilcano before going to see the Bond villain exhibit at the Spy Museum as we had some time.  We were really surprised how good our lunch was.  First we had a table by the window which was nice to just relax and people watch.  We ordered iced teas and the iced tea isn't lipton.  They use a white tea with dried peach from what it tasted like, it was really good.  I wanted to get the octopus, but they were out so I started with the lamb pot stickers, which had a crunchy top covering them that was really pretty and made for a great texture while eating it, I am not quite sure what it was made of, but these were delicious between the lamb, the sweet potato and the topping.  I gave MK a bite and he really liked this dish, as well.  He started with two pieces of Nigri (sunfish and hamachi), but these didn't come until after our mains came which disappointed him in terms of execution.  The nigri itself was fine, one piece had quite a hot topping, forget which one, I wouldn't focus on this if I were going again.  For main I had the udon with roasted vegetables.  This was a really delicious dish, if all vegetarian food tasted this good, I could easily eat vegetarian much more often.  The veggies were roasted perfectly, there were some greens and some nice crunch from bean sprouts, the sauce was soy and peanut and was delicious.  MK had the Tacu Tacu de Cola Chifero which had refried canario beans which he said were really good , rice, red-braised oxtail, fried egg and sauce.  I didn't eat any of this, but it looked delicious and he really liked it and a large portion for the price.  

Anyway this whole meal was really good and Matt and I were very pleasantly surprised, we were also surprised by how many vegetarian dishes were on the menu, which was a nice bonus for the future when we are going out to eat with people.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now