Red Egg (202 Centre St.), a relatively new restaurant in Chinatown, describes itself as Chinese-Peruvian. This seemed like a wildly improbable combination to me until I learned that Peru actually has a large Chinese population, the biggest in Latin America. In Peru, Chinese-Peruvian food is known as chifa. Think of Chinese-Indian food—the spiced-up Chinese food beloved in India—and you get the idea. Chifa is Chinese food through the lense of Chinese immigrants cooking to Peruvian taste.
So we stopped by for lunch today, and it was a mixed bag. There’s an assortment of fairly traditional dim sum, and then an array of small and large plates that run from chicken chicharrones or octopus salad to frog legs with chives or clams with black bean sauce.
Red Egg’s version of Chinese-Peruvian fusion seems simply consist of including both Chinese and Peruvian items on the menu. Apparently, that’s not what real chifa restaurants do, and since the Peruvian dishes we sampled were pretty hideous, I wish the place would drop the chifa-in-name-only gimmick and go with what it does well. Which, it turns out, is Cantonese dim sum.
Our Chinese dishes were very good and obviously freshly made. The Peruvian dishes were not.
A Red Egg lunch photo essay after the jump.
Above, steamed shrimp rice roll—a classic dim sum item, and very nicely done at Red Egg, with freshly steamed, chewy rice noodles.
Above, steamed fun gaw, translucent pork and seafood dumplings, some of the best I’ve ever had. The filling looked like it had been chopped and tossed together minutes before. Pork, diced greens, shrimp and peanuts were the major players.
Above, juicy Shanghai pork buns—very juicy, very porky.
Here’s where we run into trouble. This simple ceviche would have been okay if the scallops and shrimp had not been of such poor quality. The scallops tasted like they had been frozen for months and recently defrosted. The only thing worth eating on this plate was the baby octopus, which tasted pleasantly of star anise.
Chicken chicharrones—deep-fried nuggets of chicken skin: The only problem with breading and frying chicken skin is that the coating gets nice and crisp, but the skin inside is still flaccid and chewy. This, I do not like.