Jun 17, 2024 | Food & Drink

There’s a new cuisine in town

Author: Beth Lane

Casa Chino - Small Plates - Brunswick Daily

I first tried chifa when I visited Lima two years ago. Chifa is a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cuisines, originally born when Chinese workers immigrated to Peru in the early 20th century.
While it’s a beloved staple in Peru, you’ll struggle to find it outside South America. But thanks to the recent opening of Casa Chino, I find myself eating chifa once again.

Casa Chino is hidden just off the northern end of Brunswick’s Sydney Road, a growing hotspot for new, exciting food joints. The restaurant is beautiful. Textured curved walls glide through the place creating cosy seating nooks. Rattan barstools and high tables slot into their surroundings, like a game of Tetris, complete with dim lighting and wooden dividers to up the intimacy. The service is caring and attentive, giving you a personalised explanation of the menu to help suit your preferences.

First order of business is Pisco. With over 20 varieties, the bartenders here can whisk you up something special. Try their Plum Pisco Negroni; bittersweet both in taste and in knowing you might never have a Negroni that good again.

Casa Chino - Brunswick Daily

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From experience entrées, like salted cucumber to traditional mains, like lomo saltado, the sharing menus are a good way to go for the full experience. Lomo saltado is a popular chifa dish comprising beef in gravy, chips and rice.

Bonito flakes are dusted on crab and prawn toast, intensifying the dish with a fishy, umami flavour. It’s almost impossible to put the flakes down, at least not until the soft bao buns arrive, filled with chunks of tender duck.

Casa Chino’s kingfish ceviche is the ultimate demonstration of how to weld two cuisines with authenticity and creativity. Buttery kingfish bathes in a deep green sea of marinade, topped with toasted corn kernels and garnished with onion, chilli and coriander. Crispy wonton pieces act as savoury vehicles for the acidic ceviche mix, each bite packing a punch.

Casa Chino Ceviche - Brunswick Daily

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At Casa Chino, no one leaves hungry. If you’re feeling full, that’s the point. Push through and order the guava cheesecake. A thin layer of guava jelly gives a sweetness to the smooth filling, sharpened by a squeeze of fresh lime and a pinch of chunky salt.

This place is fusion at its finest. If you’ve never tried chifa, come and let Casa Chino show you how it’s done.

This article was written, edited, and published on the stolen lands of the Wurundjeri-woi wurrung People, whose sovereignty was never ceded.

All photos in this article were taken by Beth Lane.

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