China Chilcano, Jose Andres' newest restaurant in DC, is quite the culinary experience. If you've never been before, waiters and waitresses usually make a point to tell the patrons that contrary to appearances, China Chilcano is not a fusion restaurant (one can be forgiven for thinking that, given the variety of South American and Asian influences on the menu).
China Chilcano is serving up genuine Peruvian food, and that's that. However, Peru has massive diaspora of both Chinese and Japanese peoples. Over time, their cuisine has naturally incorporated Chinese and Japanese elements into their South American cooking tradition. Peru has, in essence, a tradition of food that is in many ways a fusion of cultures.
I will admit I am biased; I haven't found a Jose Andres restaurant I didn't enjoy.
Nonetheless, this place is great; it is a really interesting dining experience, which is one of the higher compliments I can pay a restaurant.
The menu can look overwhelming , but it has a flow - move top to bottom, left to right, and the menu goes from light to heavy. They offer a stunning variety of dishes, from heavy beef stews to ceviche and sushi, and everything in between. China Chilcano's raw dishes are impressive. The fish is always of the highest quality, and the ceviches balance acid, spice, and the umami of quality raw fish. A must order here is the Jaladito Norteño.
The dumplings are also a personal favorite of mine.
Whether they are fried, filled with lamb, and accompanied by squash puree or seafood dumplings with a siu mai sauce and poached quail egg on top, you could spend a whole meal eating only small plates from the dumpling section of the menu. A must order here? The Pegao Norteño.
However, my favorite dish on the menu to date is the Aeropuerto: fried rice, egg noodles, crisp sweet potato, and 20 (COUNT 'EM) seasonal vegetables.
I am not lying when I say I feel confident I could eat two pounds of this fried rice in one sitting. It is so damn good, and the vegetables add a freshness and a textural component that elevate it from simple fried rice to something special.
When you visit China Chilcano, be sure to be ready to share; the menu is all small plates, affording you and your guests to try and wide variety of dishes. Don't be afraid to dive into something you've never had before, and get the freakin' fried rice. You will not regret it.