Early this afternoon, I took the No. 60 bus from Palermo to the northern barrio of Belgrano, to lunch at Contigo Perú, my favorite family-style Peruvian restaurant. I was surprised to find the bus packed, even though many people do take the train from Belgrano station to the riverside suburb of Tigre on Sundays. After finishing lunch, I walked back toward the station and found nearby Arribeños street packed with pedestrians from sidewalk to sidewalk.
What was it, I wondered? My first thought was that it was Carnaval, which has just started--while it's not the international spectacle it is in Brazil, that event has been making a comeback in Buenos Aires barrios the last several years. Then I remembered that I was in Buenos Aires's Chinatown, and the crowds (plenty of Asian faces, but mostly Porteños) were celebrating Chinese New Year's. I've been to Belgrano's Chinatown many times, but it had simply never occurred to me that New Year's could be such a big draw here.
In fact, Contigo Perú is part of the Chinese presence. While the menu is predominantly Andean, it has a page in Chinese, and dishes such as fried rice owe their origins to the Peruvian tradition of coastal Chinese restaurants known there as chifas.