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EAST EATS WEST

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China and Peru have enjoyed a long-standing diplomatic friendship; now diners can also benefit from their culinary partnership. At China Hut on South OBT, ignore the classic Hunan beef and moo goo gai pan and ask for the Peruvian-style menu. Then order a bottle of chicha morada ($2.50). It looks daunting, but the violet Peruvian drink made from purple corn is fragrant and refreshing.

If you don't speak Spanish or Mandarin, use your index finger to indicate your desire for a plate of arroz chaufa de mariscos ($8.95): fried rice served the Peruvian way, heaped on a plate and overflowing with pearly scallops, pink shrimp and tender calamari rings. For something with a little more heat, move your finger just slightly down the menu to the ceviche mixto ($10.50). China Hut's ceviche, marinated in the juice of limes and lemons, defies the nouvelle-American version with sea scallops and instead marinates tender whitefish, shrimp and calamari in a spicy mélange of red onion, cilantro and jalapeño. It's served with a few pieces of chilled potato and a handful of cancha — toasted and salted Peruvian corn nuts.

While China Hut's traditional Chinese fare may be less than remarkable, the flavors of Peru shine. Leave the lychee duck ($10.95) with its soggy meat, cloyingly sweet red sauce and too much pineapple for the less continental. Channel your inner Incan and leave Beijing for Lima. You can get Chinese anytime.

dining@orlandoweekly.com

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