In 1975, Chifa was opened by a Chinese woman who emigrated from Hong Kong to Lima, Peru with her family. Wendy Leon, better known as @popowendy, started Chifa restaurant by bringing Cantonese cuisine to a ripe Peruvian customer. Wendy’s husband, Ricardo Jose Leon was Chinese Peruvian and his large Peruvian family base helped settle the young Leon family into Lima. Through her time in Lima, Wendy not only introduced people to her style of Cantonese food, she also learned how to cook Peruvian food from Ricardo’s “familia”.
Over four decades later, Chifa will reopen in Eagle Rock, California, a place familiar to the Leon family. “We grew up in Highland Park, which is adjacent to Eagle Rock, from mid 70s to mid 80s so it is exciting to come back to our neighborhood and to introduce our family’s cuisine” says Co- Founder Humberto Leon .
The newly formed Chifa is a partnership between Wendy Leon, siblings Ricardina (“Rica”) & Humberto Leon, and Ricardina’s husband, John Liu.
“My husband John has really taken a lot of my mom’s quintessential home cooked Cantonese and Peruvian dishes and gave them all a modern twist. He is the only one she will share the kitchen with! ” says Ricardina Leon. In modernizing Chifa, which is how Peruvians refer to all Chinese restaurants in Lima, John knew how he would to do just that, “the Leon family has always had a very simple way of bringing Chinese food to the table and I’ve always experimented with those recipes”. In addition to the traditional Cantonese and Peruvian dishes, John’s father, who was raised in Taipei, Taiwan, has had a Beef souple noodle that he evolved over many decades.
“Thus sharing some of those family traditions with people is something we have always wanted to do.” The food will be a combination of family home cooked Cantonese foods like a shitake pork loaf and slow braised spare rib along with “seasonal” wellness soups; that have long been a staple for Wendy and her family.
In sum, Chifa will present traditional Cantonese dishes like Si Yao Chicken, classic Taiwanese dishes like such as “3 Day” Beef Soup Noodle and, in addition to those traditional items, vegan versions of Mapo Tofu and Dan Dan Noodle. These Chinese recipes will be served along with classic
Peruvian dishes like Lomo Saltado, Polla ala Brasa, Anticuho de Corazon Ceviche.