José Andrés has cemented his reputation as a wizard of Spanish flavors, but now he’s turned his attention to the foods of Peru at his newly opened restaurant China Chilcano in Washington, D.C. Andrés spent time traveling throughout Peru exploring the country’s diverse culinary landscape, from Chinese Chifa to Japanese Nikkei and native Criollo. Here, he shares some of his standout meals.

1. Chifa San Joy Lao 
“This is one of the oldest chifa (Chinese-Peruvina cuisine) establishments in all of Peru. You’re treated like family as soon as you walk through the door, and the food is as authentic as it gets. Look for dishes such as chi jau cuy, guinea pig meat flash-fried in a roll shape and served with two sauces:”

Jirón Ucayali 779, Barrio Chino, Lima

2. Haitá
“Haitá is one of Lima’s hidden gems, tucked away in a neighborhood known as Avenida Aviación. It’s hard to find for a reason, because it serves some of the most authentic Cantonese-style chifa in all of Peru. I’m telling you, the kam lu wantan (meat and vegetable filled wontons stirfried with sweet and sour sauce) there was one of the best I’ve ever tasted—perfectly crisp on the outside with moist, tender pork on the inside.”

Aviación 2701, San Borja, Lima

3. Osaka
“This is a Nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian) meal that’s as close to Japan as you can get. Osaka has two restaurants in Peru and several more throughout Latin America, so you know these guys are the real deal. I’ll never forget their robolo sashimi, freshly sliced fish served on a hot dish to create layers of tastes and textures. Unbelievable.”

Conquistadores 999, San Isidro, Lima

4. La Mar 
“When you’re in Peru, you have to go to a Gastón Acurio spot. He is a good friend of mine and is such a talented chef. I couldn’t have opened a Peruvian restaurant here in Washington, D.C. without him. While it’s a tough decision for me, I would have to recommend eating at La Mar out of all of his restaurants if I could only pick one. La Mar’s focus is ceviches, serving flavorful, soupy leche de tigres and fresh citrusy seafood dishes.”

Av. La Mar 770, Miraflores, Lima 

Jose Peru_2

5. Ámaz 
“This place serves the foods of the jungle. I’m not lying. Ámaz specializes in Amazonian cuisine, and they take classic Peruvian dishes and add a touch of the wild to them. They source traditional forest ingredients, resulting in some of the most unique and exotic food I have ever tasted. Chorizo-oil drizzled snails, garlic Amazon peppers and coconut fried rice—it’s all incredible!”

Av. La Paz 1079, Miraflores, Lima

6. El Chinito 
“El Chinito is one of the most famous sangucherías in all of Peru. And that means the best sandwiches you have ever tasted. Their menu was such a big inspiration for China Chilcano, serving freshly-roasted meats marinated in onions, peppers and cilantro on doughy bread.  I swear to you, my mouth waters just thinking about it.”

Av. Grimaldo del Solar 113, Miraflores, Lima

7. San Pedro Market
“The arroz a la Cubana that we serve at China Chilcano was inspired by a dish I tasted here. The market is a huge, open space with hundreds of stands selling fresh produce, meats and fish and other Peruvian specialties, as well as no-name stalls serving up incredible home-style food. You won’t just find food at San Pedro Market, though, because right next door is called the witch’s market, where witch doctors sell all kinds of spooky things. One that I met had a dead rabbit hanging on his stall to ward off evil spirits. As a chef, I could think of some better ways to use that rabbit…”

Tupac Amaru, Cusco, Peru