Spotlight On: China Chilcano

Hello, dear Readers!

Let’s talk about food. Good food. Unique food. Fusion food. In my opinion, no place in the city sums up these statements more than China Chilcano!

China Chilcano, whose name refers to a Peruvian cocktail made with Pisco, is one of José Andrés‘ restaurant and is an award-winner having been named a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2017 and 2018. That is a Michelin honor that highlights restaurants serving high-quality food at a reasonable price. China Chilcano is focused on honoring the multicultural roots of Peruvian cuisine, blending Criollo with Chinese Chifa and Japanese Nikkei flavors and ingredients.

But enough about the backstory – let’s get to the food!

I have eaten here several times in the past year and the food has been perfectly prepared each time. As a vegetarian, I appreciate the variety of meatless items I can choose, none of which I have to add a caveat of “Can you take out X?”. This go-round my lunch companion and I decided to start with the Dancing Yucca, which is a healthy place of yucca fries topped with ají amarillo ‘aioli’, kabayaki sauce, and bonito (tuna) flakes.

Then, we moved onto the Ceviche de Beterraga Nikkei of roasted red beets, a golden bit of puréed golden, ponzu, Granny Smith apples, almonds, with a sort of soy sauce. So good, and so pretty!For my main plate, I indulged in a favorite, the Tallarin Saltado de Verduras, which is a dish of chow mein noodles, tomato, scallions, bean sprouts, and peppers. It is a good size and I took more than half home to enjoy the next day. I especially like how the freshness of the greens balances out the heavy sweetness of the chow mein. Alex, my lunch companion, order the Causa Limeña, which was a new dish for me and is potato causa covering chicken salad with avocado, ají amaraillo, and chimichurri. The bite of potato that I had was flavorful and the presentation was impactful with the cold potato piped over the chicken salad and topped with half a quail egg.Everything was delicious, unique, and incredibly fresh but the showstopper had to be the dessert we split, the Suspiro Limeña! Based on a custard made of sweetened condensed milk, this work of art was topped with two types of meringue, a fresh passion fruit purée with lime juice and lemon zest! Words can’t describe the perfect pairing of sweet, rich custard with the zing of fresh citrus and passion fruit. If all you do is come to China Chilcano for a glass of Tempranillo and this dessert, you are winning at life.

The ambiance of the restaurant has a slightly unfinished vibe with exposed plywood and art installations but that doesn’t detract from the overall desirability. The food is so good and the service is excellent, that I didn’t even mind sitting at a small table with my back exposed. The standout decor includes a mural of a woman painted in florals and a light installation that echoes the Nasca Lines. Even that bathroom tiles are cool!

Everything about China Chilcano is unique and it has become a definite go-to recommendation for friends and visitors. If you want to experience a taste like no other, head to China Chilcano at 418 7th Street, NW. It’s a 5-minute walk south of the National Portrait Gallery or a 1-minute walk north of the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter Metro station, making it easy to move about the city on the Green, Yellow, and limited Blue lines.

Until next time,