Chinaloa : Chinese Comfort Food from the Border
Chef Antonio de Livier has become CDMX’s ambassador from the north. His Ánimo Caldos (see previous post) is one of the few venues for tastes of such under-valued states as Sonora, Durango and the frontier of Baja California, from whence he hails. "Chinaloa is an idea," says the chef who created a dualistic menu of Americanized Chinese dishes and Mexican food. “You need to be from a city in the north of the country to understand this reference.” His campy Chinese/Mexican/American fusion good-time venue opened recently in Zoku’s old space (the revamped Zoku lives on downstairs).
The city of Mexicali, where the chef was born, once harbored the largest community of Chinese expats in the country.
They were, at various times in Mexican history, either appreciated or persecuted. Most have crossed the border in search of a better life. But they left a legacy of fusion cooking that resembles the adapted cuisine of the US’ Chinatowns. Fried rice, chop suey and chao mein rule. Soy and oyster sauces dominate.
While such dishes continue to be popular in the capital’s dwindling Café’s de Chinos, (see post) here, de Livier has tightened up old recipes and presents an appealing mix of these comfort foods alongside familiar Baja fare like aguachiles and seafood tostadas. His chop suey is more mid-century than regional, but it is fresh and crisp, not cornstarch laden as is often the case. Lemony roast chicken is a winner and plates are large for sharing. Prices wallet-friendly. The cheery ambiance, punctuated by such kitschy Chinoiserie as waving “good luck” cats, Chinese lanterns, paper umbrellas and old-time decorated Chinese restaurant plates make for a party atmosphere. This is food to be shared, enjoyed. If you’re looking for the “real thing” go to Asian Bay or Yi Pin Ju as Chinaloa’s food doesn’t challenge. But it tastes and feels good.
Durango 359, Roma Norte (See map)
Tel. 55 3099 4961
Open Monday - Thursday 1 - 11 p.m., Friday Saturday until midnight, Sunday 12 -6 p.m.
Average price per person $200