Let’s start with a Freakonomics-style question: why should 21st-century Londoners be grateful for the labour shortages of late 19th-century Peru?
Answer: due to the resulting influx of Chinese immigrants. (Bear with me.) These immigrants primarily came from China’s Guandong region and settled in the Peruvian capital of Lima.
Along with physical labour, the Chinese brought their own cuisine – recipes, cooking methods and ingredients taken from the mother country and gradually fused with local dishes to create a whole new culinary tradition known as Chifa.
Chifa grew increasingly popular, and specialist restaurants began to open across the country. Today you can find Chifa restaurants everywhere in Peru, although Lima remains its spiritual home.
Pork belly chicharrones as more juicy than last night’s gossip, more tender than a lover’s kiss
Indeed the cuisine born from immigration has started to be exported out again… bringing us to modern London, and the brilliant Peruvian restaurant Pachamama East, which recently launched a Chifa menu created by executive chef John Javier. (Got there eventually, eh?)
Javier has quite the pedigree himself; starting his career at Noma, opening his own restaurant, MASTER, then joining the Pachamama Group in 2019. He’s studied Chifa cooking for many years, and now finally has the chance to share his passion with London diners.
I imagine most of them will soon share it. The Pachamama East menu is one amazing dish after another.
Start with prawn toast, served with lashings of XO mayo and spring onion.
Pork belly chicharrones as juicy as last night’s gossip, more tender than a lover’s kiss.
You can probably work out duck on rice, but the name doesn’t convey the vibrancy of the dish with its beautiful yellow sauce.
Deep-fried roasted potato ice cream. It works. Don’t ask me how but it does.
For pudding, things get a little funky with deep-fried roasted potato ice cream. It works. Don’t ask me how but it does.
There’s a suitable Latin-infused cocktail list to wash everything down; as you’d imagine, tequila, pisco and mezcal are all well represented.
"There are so many inspiring restaurants in the area," said Javier of Shoreditch. "I hope that with my menu Pachamama East will very quickly become one of them.”
Job done, old boy.
For more info, see Pachamma East