Trujillo

Trujillo, on the north coast of Peru, was one of the earliest colonial cities in the Americas. Although it was founded in 1534, an earthquake in 1619 destroyed many of its buildings so most of the architecture in the historic centre dates from the 17th century and later. We spent a sunny afternoon wandering inside the old walled town, enjoying the colourful facades and iron- and wood-work balconies. The tourist information office in the Plaza de Armas is very helpful and offers lots of free maps as well as a tour of the historical judicial building (Spanish only, I think).

The Archdiocese of Trujillo.

The Freedom Monument was unveiled in the centre of the Plaza de Armas in 1929.

The Cathedral of Trujillo was finished in 1666 (although it’s clearly had a lick or two of paint since then).

El Carmen church and monastery.

Coincidentally, we ate the most delicious fried rice in South America (we’re talking proper Chinese marinated pork here) at Chifa Chung Heng on Jr. Colón 205, just a few blocks from Plaza de Armas.

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The three best meals in Peru

So yeah, everyone talks about Peruvian food. We ate some good stuff there (we also ate stuff that was just like Bolivian food too). But three meals easily stand out as the best.

Ceviche in Huacachina
This is the best ceviche ever. It was super fresh and tender, perfectly marinated and a good-sized portion. We also ordered fried squid which came with yucca and salad. Also out-of-this-world delicious. It was so good that we went back the next day and ordered it all again.

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[I have to apologize for this picture. I assumed we’d be eating ceviche like this all over Peru, so I only took pictures with my iPod. It wasn’t true. No where came even close to this meal.]

Tamarind pork in Lima’s Chinatown
Peruvians are quite proud of their chifas. Certainly they have the best in South America, although the food is very Westernised (and bizarrely some Chinese restaurants only serve fried chicken). But at a random restaurant in Lima’s Chinatown we ate an almuerzo that included wonton soup and main dish for 8 soles. The pork was lovely and barbecued, with lotus and radish in a thick, sour-sweet tamarind sauce. Heaven in my mouth.

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[Are you noticing a theme with these pictures? Also shown here is a chicken and vegetable dish with -gasp! – bean sprouts and bak choi. Virtually non-existent in South America.]

The old standby of Lomo Saltado
Chopped up steak, onions, tomato and chips, all fried up together and served over rice. This particular one was served at a roadside restaurant on a tour we took in Huaraz. I don’t even really like steak very much. Or onions. But these ingredients were fresh and perfectly cooked. I couldn’t get enough.

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[Look at all those vegetables. It’s got to be healthy, right?]

What’s your favourite Peruvian food?

Chifa Dragon

Living in Bolivia (and traveling in South America), the one thing that I really feel homesick for is Asian food and food culture. I miss varied and hygienic street food. I miss being able to get something to eat at all hours of the day or night. I miss dumplings.

So when I want a little bit of Asia, I go to Chifa Dragon.

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The food itself is more like western-Chinese than Asian-Chinese style; a bit greasy and heavy on meat, but still delicious (there’s also more vegetables than you might find in a typical Bolivian plate of meat and rice). Although you’ll be served by a cholita, there are Chinese people working here (better still, I’ve seen Chinese people eating here – always a good sign). A nice reminder of my time in Taiwan, it serves tofu stir-fry and a whole chicken foot in your soup bowl. If you’re lucky, they’ll be showing an 80s movie on TV (notice the Karate Kid II in the picture above) or a Latin telenovela.

It’s open pretty much all the time – even Sundays – and if you like eating in a restaurant with no pretension about it being anything but a functional place to get sustenance, then this is the place for you.

A big plate of rice and/or noodles with stir-fried meat (chicken, pork or beef) and vegetables costs 22-25 Bolivianos. Other, more expensive, dishes are available a la carte.

Address: Calle Almirante Grau (the block between Calle Illampu and Calle Zoilo Flores), San Pedro, La Paz

After some more Asian food? Try Corea Town and Vinapho.