We are excited to welcome our new neighbors, the chic family-owned eatery known as CHIFA, to the Eagle Rock community. This vibrant spot is conveniently located just a block away from our own soon-to-be brick and mortar shop. Prior to the restaurant's opening in November, the Silk & Jade crew strolled over and had the privilege of indulging in a preview of the up and coming restaurant's mouthwatering menu, which we are delighted to be featured on!
The term chifa bears a strong resemblance to the Cantonese phrase chi fan, which means to eat rice or simply, to eat well. However, the shortened or evolved "chifa" has taken on an identity and tradition of its own, recognized as the crossing of Chinese and Peruvian culinary cultures that originate from Chinese migrants' arrival in Peru in the 1920's and the subsequent melding of local ingredients with the cuisine of their homeland.
Although each dish offered new dimensions and was distinctive in its own right, the overall experience provided a synergy of flavors, fulfilling the full spectrum from savory to sweet. The essence of the menu, with its smaller servings were fit for a family-style format, so we ordered a variety of dishes that everyone at the table could share and sample. It all came to a blissful conclusion with their petite custardy, almond-crusted black sesame cheesecake and an affogato-style pairing of rich vanilla ice cream and hot black tea to pour on top. The culinary genius behind the collaboration of the family's matriarch, Wendy Leon and her son-in-law, John Liu was epitomized in their uncanny ability to somehow calculate the perfect balance of each ingredient, resulting in every bite providing just enough flavor and texture to satisfy but never overwhelm the palate. Every element was gentle yet full.
Despite the numerous dishes that graced our table, one of the shared favorites amongst the Silk & Jade crew was their Si Yao Chicken, steeped in Chef Wendy's house made soy sauce. The chicken is prepared and served cold, a signature feature of the traditional Cantonese dish, and paired with CHIFA's warm, fluffy garlic rice. The outer edges were delightfully peppered with a few crispy, crunchy grains which just added to the homey vibe of the dish. While the mellow backdrop of the garlic rice accented the hearty chicken, the meat's skin soaked up the colorful character of the succulent sauce, full of anise and aromatic Chinese spices (a side of sauce is provided, and you'll want to dive in).
The seasonal vegetable dish featured garlic chives and what co-founder Humberto Leon described as what would result if cauliflower and broccoli had a baby. The veggies carried a subtle crunch and were saturated with flavor, evoking the deep, caramelized notes of Chinese oyster sauce. We got an intro into the family's Peruvian side with their Pollo a la Brasa, which was served as a hefty half chicken blackened with a thin, textured layer of smokey crust. The dry rub was distinctly fragrant with cumin and harmonized well with what seemed to be a blend of two sauces traditionally served with the dish - green, peppery aji folded into a creamy mayo-like base. And if that weren't enough... light, crispy fries were there to round it off.
Everyone wants tasty food when they venture out to have others cook and serve them but the icing on the [black sesame] cake was the methodically designed space and all of its picturesque details, from the sharp, mint-drenched exterior to the hint of urban flair in the servers' attire. "Family affair" or "family of flair"? Being that Humberto Leon is also co-founder of a trailblazing fashion brand - Opening Ceremony, it only makes sense that his family's food joint is stepping on the scene fit with an appeal that is just as visually appetizing as the fare. We look forward to the day when we can take in the atmosphere of the pristine, bustling machinery and ethos that fills the space along with the divinely comforting meals CHIFA has to offer.
Visit our neighbor and check out their menu here: https://www.chifa-la.com/
Figurines credited to artist Charlie Mai are also available for purchase at CHIFA.
Article written by Mariah Monet J.