Chifa Du Kang, located on Bird Road in Westchester, bets on authentic Chinese dishes but includes the flavors and ingredients of Peruvian cuisine on the menu.
Owner Jingquan Du explains that “chifa” means “to eat” in Cantonese, and that is what they call Chinese restaurants in Peru, where he emigrated when China was still isolated from the global economy. Du began learning Spanish at night school in China in the late 1980s, then moved to Peru with the support of a great-uncle, who already was living in Lima. Upon arriving in Peru, he spent another year learning the language while helping out at his uncle’s restaurant.
Shortly after, Du opened his own restaurant in the Central Market area of Lima. The area is where the Chinatown is located, a neighborhood that covers several blocks and includes the famous Capón Street which is full of Chinese shops where you can find Chinese horoscopes as well as good fried rice, which in Peru is called “chaufa”.
“Peruvian families go out to eat Chinese food at least once a week,” says Du, who has served us an emperor’s banquet at his restaurant in southwest Miami so we can sample his cuisine.
The table includes a customer favorite, wonton soup, which in his restaurant comes with all the meats plus a quail egg. The Chi Jau Kay chicken is also served, a dish that most Peruvians know, with breaded chicken cut into pieces and served with soy sauce, seasonings and vegetables on top.
There is lomo saltado in abundance. Chifa Du Kang’s version of the Peruvian dish has a touch of vinegar mixed with soy sauce, prepared with tender meat that makes your mouth water.
The secret of chaufa
Come to this restaurant hungry because the fried rice is a must, says Luisa Rodríguez, a customer who describes the dish as “very filling.”
Rodríguez came to collect her take-out order, but says that soon she and her friends, a group of widows who usually meet in different restaurants in the city, will resume the meet ups they used to have in Chifa Du Kang before the pandemic.
The word pandemic brings Du back to the month they were closed as a precaution against Covid-19, from which he thought the business would never recover. But a year later the clientele has returned and they are ready to open another restaurant in Kendall.
“Latinos are optimistic and they like to eat,” says Du about the recovery he has seen in business; on a Monday at lunch the place is already starting to fill.
Chifa Du Kang’s clientele is not only Peruvians, who come to enjoy a meal that they say is as good or better than that of the chifas of Lima, according to one of the regular customers who eats noodles accompanied by a Cuzqueña beer. There are also North Americans and many Cubans, who live in the area and who appreciate not only the flavor but the abundance of what they serve and the good treatment.
“The secret of Chinese rice is that it is cooked at a very high temperature,” says Du, who came to Miami in 2008 to open the restaurant and later obtained residency and citizenship.
As in most Asian restaurants, the fortune cat – which is not Chinese but Japanese – raises its paw inviting people to enter Chifa Du Kang. But the real invitation to enter comes from the smell of the food.
Chifa Du Kang
Where: 9899 SW 40th St., Miami
Info: chifadukang.com or 786-953-7165