The Best Min Paos of Capon Street.
There was a huge movement of the Cantonese people to Peru between the 19th and 20th century. They came here in search of fortune, but instead were sent to guano islands in the north of the country to work as paid slaves. Thankfully, they didn’t hold the grudge of their mistreatment throughout the generations, and now we can delight in the cultural aspect they bring to the grand Peruvian dinner table. Something that is extremely popular here is the Min Pao (包子), also known as the Bao Zi. It’s a steamed rice bun filled with a variety of ingredients, ranging from savory to sweet.
There is a street called Capon, where the Chinese decided to set up different Asian goods stores, restaurants, and is considered the birthplace of the Chinese/Peruvian fusion food, Chifa. It is here where the Chinatown is located. So it is here, where I decided to hunt for the best Min Pao.
My search will begin at the gate, looking towards the paved walkway, right before it begins, the first store on the left side. Here I went to a famed Chinese bakery/butcher that’s supposed to have the best Min paos on the block. I ordered a Tay pao (Pork, Chicken, Chinese sausage, and Quail egg.) and a Siu Pao (Just pork). The pork was like a separate cake inside of the bun, dense and juicy. While the Tay pao was everything to be expected. Deliciously spiced, with black chinese mushrooms and cinnamon. There was a reason it was famous. A normal Pao will cost about s/. 7.50 but the Tay Pao (special pao) was about s/.12.50.
I continued to another, Chinese bakery. This one was under a buffet on the left side of the walkway, so it aroused some suspicion, but this was a search, so I had to give everything a try. Results: Not bad, it was cheaper than the aforementioned paos, but only by s/. 1.50. I wouldn’t exactly recommend it. Here I sampled the Tay Pao and Chicken Pao. The tay pao had around the same flavor idea as before, just missing some power (or umami). The chicken pao had the same, dense, juicy, meat cake idea as before, but again, lacking a little in the flavor aspect.
We kept walking on the left side of the walkway, and we ended up at the corner. Under the chifa Ton Kin Sen, there was a place that sold all sorts of Dim Sum goodies. They were slightly cheaper than the rest of the places, and in my opinion give you the most bang for your buck. The min pao here had a good filling, although there wasn’t much of it, you weren’t too disappointed because the bread that surrounded it was sweet and had developed a flavor of its own. Here we ordered the regular Chicken Pao.
Once we finished, we turned left, and found another stand not too far from the one on the corner. At the chifa Fu Yuan, we ordered the Meat Pao. It had a clear, refreshing flavor, full of soy sauce and not too sweet or fishy (the Cantonese love their oyster sauce) I was full, but in heaven. They serve it to you hot and they even specify on their stand that you shouldn’t pay more than 2 soles. Just in case, of course.
At this point, I was about to explode. I was pao’d out, and beginning to look like one myself. But the quest wasn’t over, because I haven’t seen everything yet. Luckily, only one more store was left to discover. It was the only store on the right side of the walkway (left side if you’re walking towards the large gate) and it’s also one of the only places you can get salted duck eggs! A rare but delicious Chinese delicacy. Apart from that it seemed like a normal Chinese bakery/butcher. But when I got to the cashier, there was a true surprise in store for me. Char siu pao, or roasted pork paos. It’s like heaven had a barbeque and put it inside a steamed rice bun. It cost as much as the first place, but it was about 10x better. I was too full to sample all of their paos, but if it was anything like this one, I’d gladly spend s/. 40 on all of them.
For those who noticed I got a new webpage!! I’ll be sure to improve it as time goes on. This is a big step for me, so to those who read frequently thank you for the support and I hope to keep bringing you interesting foodie news & recipes!