Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Jun 3, 2009 09:17 AM

Thi'd Up in Peruvian Food

Chowhound and prolific food scout, Thi Nguyen has outdone himself in his new role as one of the food critics for the Los Angeles Times; producing a "full" monty as it were in today's Food section. Thi takes up the entire back page (I mean - Sherry Virbila only gets 2/3rds of a page) with a paean to Peruvian food in Los Angeles. Way to go, Thi! And it seems like you've mastered that "writing in the 3rd person" deal pretty well.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Wholeheartedly agree. Excellent article--made me want to go try all those places and enjoyed reading it.


    1. Excellent article, and BTW, a SV vs TN match would have an easy winner.

      On a side note, the "chaufa" rice reminded me of the word "chifa", commonly used in Peru to refer to Chinese restaurants in general. Not surprisingly, both are closely linked:

      5 Replies
      1. re: RicRios

        There's actually a specifically Chinese-Peruvian place in Northridge, on Devonshire somewhere between Reseda and Topanga Canyon - didn't make the top ten, but it's an interesting examplar.

        But yeah, Chinese, Japanese techniques and ingredients are everywhere.

        1. re: RicRios

          I can't remember if this made the final cut, but the listed influences, from various sources, for Peruvian cooking include Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, African, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, and Italian...

          1. re: RicRios

            Chau fan means fried rice in Cantonese.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              If the wikipedia article above is correct, the words are imported from Mandarin and adopted by the Cantonese expat community:

              " Mandarin words were used in the creation of the name "chifa" (as Mandarin "chi" in Cantonese is either "heg", "sek" or "yag", a far cry from the chosen pronunciation). This is an interesting trivia that highlights the prestige of Mandarin (then not yet the standard official language of China, only that of the Mandarin official class) in a 19th and early 20th century overseas Cantonese community."

              1. re: RicRios

                Yes, I read the wiki before I posted and I take it with a grain of salt. I'm just pointing out that the Cantonese words for fried rice didn't need to be imported from Mandarin. It's been called that for eons in Canton long before Chinese landed in Peru.

          2. Great article by one of the LA Board's most astute and knowledgable food critics.
            But let's at least give a little credit regarding the length and size of the articles - SIV wrote about one restaurant, while Thi was reviewing two, yet alluding to about five more, and had to do some explanation regarding the various food items as a concept, unlike her not having to deal with an explanation regarding say a lamb shank or hamburger.
            Now if he would just do the same thing regarding coffee that started one of the longer posts on this board in recent times, including the new intelligensia on Abbot Kinney.

            2 Replies
            1. re: carter

              I'm not saying Thi didn't have more territory to cover in his Peruvian masterpiece - just that the LAT's editor saw fit to assign him to cover something with that breadth and length - (when Sherry normally gets the "lioness's" share of the ink) was definitely noteable to me.

              1. re: carter

                Intelligensia in Venice set to open end of this week/beginning of next week.

              2. Thanks guys, thanks a lot - it really pleases me to hear that you guys liked it. It's strange, with these things - it's so unlike the boards. You labor forever, you wrangle over cuts, and then you put it out there and then.... it almost vanishes. No comments, no discussion, you have no idea if anybody ever *read* the thing or not.

                I actually wish there was some way to do "director's cuts" of these things - I had literally 40 pages of notes on this thing, and there's just a stunning amount of awesome stuff from the interviews on the cutting room floor, so to speak.

                Mo-Chica is major. MAJOR. Big-time, world-shaking major. Writing in the third person doesn't let me say things like, "I was sticking my head onto the bottom of the lamb shank stew and licking each godlike droplet while trying to keep myself from entering into an epilectic fit of pure ecstacy", which was basically what I was doing. Like, Chung King major.

                Servorg - did you see the Priyani review last week? I was just thinking of you, actually - I think it'll suit your tastes *precisely*.

                13 Replies
                1. re: Thi N.

                  "Servorg - did you see the Priyani review last week? I was just thinking of you, actually - I think it'll suit your tastes *precisely*.

                  I did see it, Thi. I just have to give it a try when my wife won't be with me for dinner. And I have to say that the photo of the lamb shank that accompanied your Peruvian review had me "lusting" in my mind (with all due apologies to Jimmy Carter)!

                  1. re: Thi N.

                    Great job!!! :DD We must be on the same wavelenght... anyone of the places you visited do a killer Causa Limeña? We are addicted to Pollos el Brazero's version which is a little rustic... but is still divine! :D



                    1. re: Thi N.

                      Great article! I can't wait to try Mo-Chica.

                      1. re: sku

                        Oh, and Thi, one bone I have to pick, how could you write up Puro Sabor and neglect to mention the amazing picarones, the pumpkin doughnuts in syrup. Not only are they one of the best things on the menu, they may be the best restaurant doughnuts in LA.

                        1. re: sku

                          I did write it up. In the original draft. in the original draft, there was a whole paragraph comparing the relative merits of Puro Sabor's picarones and Danessi's picarones. In the original draft, there was a whole extra section on lomo saltado, with a tour, and cultural commentary. In the original draft, the discussion of Puro Sabor ran on for about 4 extra paragraphs.

                          The original draft was also slightly over twice my word limit.

                          Actually, the *original* original draft was triple my word limit.

                          Incidentally: they're a pumpkin-sweet potato blend. And the syrup is palm sugar. And they're *fantastic*.

                          1. re: Thi N.

                            So what was your conclusion with regard to Puro Sabor vs. Danessi's picarones?

                            1. re: sku

                              ...and is there anyway you'd consider releasing a copy of your original draft? I'd love to see all of that work you put into it...sort of a writer's cut of the piece.

                              1. re: sku

                                I imagine that the LA Times considers that their property. But, Thi can weigh in on that for the definitive ruling.

                      2. re: Thi N.

                        The L.A. Times doesn have comments? Because the SF Chron has comments for all online version of all their content. For example, here's a recent restaurant review that has 10 comments:

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          No, they don't -- and honestly, it's one of the things that keeps me reading the online LA Times. Surf over to our local paper ( and read the comments and you'll see why I'm so happy for there NOT to be comments.

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            Oh, I agree: the comments sections of the SF Chron are populated by some of the nastiest trolls and curmudgeons around. But if you can ignore them, there are some good comments and in the food section, sometimes some good tips. And sometimes if you follow a story, the trolls get their comeuppance (most notably, the Hans Reiser murder trial, where the trolls swore he was innocent, trashed the wife he was tried and convicted for murdering and said she must be hiding in Russia -- right up until he took the police to her body), which is always satisfying.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              I just can't read comments... it just raises my blood pressure. But I'm glad to know the information is there, I just see the signal-to-noise ratio as too low to bother.

                              The LA Times blogs have comments, of course... and the two papers (the Register and the Times) cater to, shall we say, different ends of the political spectrum. Which shouldn't matter on a food article but you should see the ghastly replies on any article in the Register about a Vietnamese or Mexican restaurant.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                What's funny about the SF Chron comments is that even though the paper caters to the moderate-to-liberal side of the spectrum, the comments sections seems to be mostly populated by Dittohead-types and libertarians. I think they really relish the opportunity to speak their minds in an atmosphere they feel is otherwise oppressive to their views.

                      3. Thi Nguyen is to Jonathan Gold as Kevin H is to Irene Virbila