During my first night in DC, I headed to China Chilcano for dinner. This restaurant from Chef José Andrés features a unique take on contemporary Peruvian cuisine using Asian and Spanish accents. It also offers one of the best curated selections of Pisco in the U.S.
I walked in and gave my name to the hostess. I made a reservation online requesting a seat at the ceviche bar. She walked me towards the back of the restaurant where I took my seat at the bar.
The ambiance was casual and upbeat.
The drink to get here is the Pisco Sour. Pisco is a clear brandy that is popular in both Peru and Chile. The cocktail was invented in Peru around 1900.This version is made with Macchu Pisco, lime, egg white, and Amargo Chuncho bitters.
After ordering the food, a small bowl of Cancha was given to me to snack on. Cancha is a popular snack in Peru and Ecuador that’s made with a special type of large-kerneled corn. The dried kernels are tossed with oil and toasted in a hot skillet until they are browned and puffed. They were crunchy, salty, and perfect with a cocktail.
You’ll find a section on the menu entitled Chifa. It’s a term used in Peru and Ecuador to refer to Chinese cooking, in which Peruvian and Chinese ingredients are fused together. This is where you’ll find some unique Dim Sum options.
One of the more popular choices among the dim sum is the Sánguche de Chancho, which is pork belly from Heritage Farm, Seven Springs, North Carolina, chifa daikon, sweet potato, and ají limo miso sauce in a fried lotus bun.
It was a welcoming Peruvian twist on your typical Chinese pork buns. The pork was very tender and juicy. The lotus bun held up well with each bite. The aji limo is a chili pepper from Peru. The sauce added a nice flavor, not too spicy.
The pork bun was gone in a couple bites. I would not mind ordering another one, but I had sushi coming soon. I enjoyed watching the chefs make the ceviches and sushi orders for the entire restaurant.
Another section on the menu is entitled Nikkei. It’s described as Japanese traditions and techniques through the lens of Peruvian culture. A Peruvian twist on sushi? I had to try it. I decided to try the Tuna, Hamachi, Sunfish, and BBQ Eel. Each order was two pieces.
The tuna was topped with a spicy sauce. It had good flavor.
The sunfish was topped with salmon roe. I’ve never had sunfish before, it was very mild with some saltiness from the roe.
The hamachi was mild as well.
The barbecue eel had some good flavor with a slight smoky taste.
The sushi was pretty good. The tuna and eel had the most flavor. I’m glad I tried them, but I would probably choose other dishes next time.
Watching all the ceviches being made convinced me to order something made with fresh raw seafood cured in citrus juices. I asked the waiter if the scallops were available. He asked the chef and they were. Nice!
The Concha Abanico a la Chalaca was live scallop in a half-shell with rocoto-lime relish and choclo.
Choclo, also referred to as Peruvian corn, is a large-kernel variety of field corn from the Andes. It’s consumed in parts of Central America and South America, especially in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. It added some texture to the dish.
I liked the refreshing rocoto-lime relish with the hints of spiciness from the rocoto sauce. Rocoto chile peppers are one of the staple chiles used in Peruvian cuisine.
As much as I wanted to try one of their popular dessert dishes, I had to pass. I was due for my reservation at barmini soon. They still gave me a complimentary Marciano de Lucuma which is a frozen ice pop made with evaporated milk and lucuma. Lucuma is a subtropical fruit native to the Andean valleys and produced in Chile, Peru and Ecuador.
It was yummy. The taste was similar to passion fruit. Sweet and refreshing. I haven’t had a frozen push pop like this in years. Thanks!
The frozen snack ended up on the final bill, but the waiter apologized and corrected it right away. Service was good and the chef at the ceviche bar was very nice. I enjoyed the pork bun, sushi, and scallop ceviche. There are so many other dishes that were recommended and sounded delicious, but were more appropriate to share and I didn’t want a super heavy dinner before drinks. Maybe next time. It was time to head out for cocktails!
418 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004