While food is an endlessly debatable subject, one thing that’s practically guaranteed to ignite fierce foodies under a common denominator is a shared love of dumplings. From gyoza to mandu, jiaozi to shumai, there are delicious dumplings to be found on every street corner in Hong Kong — and let’s face it, they’re all pretty much delicious, no matter where they originated.
But if you thought you’ve tried all the varieties in the dumpling universe, think again: Next month, Pirata Group (MEATS, The Optimist, TokyoLima, Pici) will be bringing a new type of dumpling to town that’s sure to take your taste buds for a ride. Chifa, named after the culinary tradition which fuses Peruvian and Cantonese elements, will aim to bring a hearty dose of the colourful ambience and mouthwatering tastes of Barrio Chino (the neighbourhood of Chinese immigrants in Lima) to the heart of Central, paying homage to a niche cross-cultural cuisine that sprouted from a long history of Chinese emigration to Peru.
Located on Peel Street, Chifa (the term derives from the Peruvian interpretation of the Mandarin expression chi fan, meaning “eat food”) draws from the centuries-old cuisine to dispense dumplings of all different shapes, sizes, colours and tastes — all pleated before your eyes and served up in the lively and casual style that Pirata Group is known for. With interiors designed by Charlie & Rose, the spacious, open-air restaurant will boast large windows and wood furnishings, with the space divided into the no-reservations Bamboo Room, featuring the open kitchen, and the back Dumpling Room for reservations and larger groups.
We imagine the Bamboo Room will host the best seats in the house — here, you’ll be able to spy on the chefs as they roll, stuff and cook the dumplings in traditional bamboo steamers. From pillowy-soft bao to neatly crimped and pleated xiao long bao, you’ll have your pick of dumplings that fuse Peruvian and Chinese ingredients in mouthwatering combinations — think a mixture of spicy Peruvian chillies, lime, tamarind, native Andes root vegetables and bright Chinese herbs. Highly Instagrammable (always a plus), our mouths are already watering at the multi-coloured parcels that are sure to pack a punch on the palate. Primed for dunking, the dumplings will be served alongside a range of Peruvian dipping sauces infused with everything from fruity, yellow aiji amarillo chillies to sweet and smoky aiji panca chillies.
Dumplings not your style? While you keenly avoid the passing stares of judgment, you can tuck in instead into a range of tasty chifa noodles, rice dishes, meats and seafood options — all washed down with craft cocktails (a Pirata Group specialty) and craft beers to temper the heat of the bold and spicy seasonings. With Chifa set to open this May, all we can say is: bring on the dumplings.
Chifa will open in May for lunch and dinner, Mon–Sun with limited reservations.