China Chilcano is a truly unique restaurant in Washington D.C. that fuses three cultures: Japanese, Chinese and Peruvian, into one unique and welcoming location in which to dine. Designed by Capella Garcia Architecture, the studio worked with owner José Andrés to create this fusion of cuisines. As a re-imagination of a contemporary and personal take on traditional folklore, José Andrés’ design includes a large art-adorned dining room, casual bar and a cluster of different seating options.
The entrance to the restaurant has a street-like atmosphere, with the industrial-style bar leading off towards the dining room. A contemporary mural called ‘Both Worlds’ by Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes decorates the wall, welcoming guests into the colourful, personable space.
The main dining room is large and more formal, with round tables and comfortable chairs. Bamboo partitions surround the tables while smaller tables, closer together, encourage sharing. With comfortable sofas and cosy booths too, this creates a more relaxed atmosphere for guests.
Seating options also include special Japanese style ‘Tatami’ seating with a table sunk into the floor, creating a contemporary twist on traditional Tatami tables, being more comfortable for Western diners.
Towards the very back of China Chilcano, a more private space for guests features a ceviche bar, a staple of Peruvian cuisine. A series of geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru decorate the main dining spaces, with these glyphs, inspired by ancient Peru, adorning the ceiling and neon lights forming Nazca lines.
Lighting is as varied as the seating, ranging from neon to bare bulbs. Entwined between hemp rope hang Edison pendant bulbs with wire-frame pendants and large shades above the main tables.
The use of materials in the overall design was a concept based on simple elements such as recycled packing crates, wood trusses and wooden ladders hanging from the ceiling; as well as corrugated steel panels, paving and glass brick walls, eschewing elaborate finishes for a simpler more industrial space.
Floor to ceiling windows throughout the space offer pedestrians a peek into the buzzing interior of China Chilcano, adding to the already vibrant Penn Quarter.
For China Chilcano, the designed space does not have a single design vision, but rather combines José Andrés’ traditional Peruvian, Japanese and Chinese influences into a myriad of different spaces to allow guests to choose and enjoy this culinary experience in a unique way.
Images © Ken Wyner