Sanguchon is the brainchild of chef Carlos Altamirano, whose restaurants include Mochica, Piqueo's and La Costanera. The truck has been out on the streets for a few days, but tonight marked its Off the Grid debut. I imagine that with even the best preparation, opening night has got to be hectic for a new truck. Things are bound to go wrong, and you just have to hope that customers are patient. I actually expected more items to be sold-out by the time I got to the truck at 7 PM. Some dishes were no longer available, and the wait to receive the food quite long, but they were friendly and seemed very concerned about keeping the crowd happy. There was even a gentlemen standing in the crowd by the pick-up window, handing out orders and making sure people were satisfied. They seemed genuinely concerned about customer service. I liked that.
As I wrote in a previous review, my in-laws were born in Peru, so I have had a lot of exposure to that cuisine. I have my favorite dishes: lomo saltado and aji de gallina rank at the top of my list. Sanguchon's Lomo Saltado Sandwich was sold out tonight, so I instead chose the Aji de Gallina Wrap. Let me start by saying that the very first aji de gallina I ever ate was made by my mother-in-law, and she set the bar high. Though I have had this dish at numerous restaurants, I have never liked any of them as much as hers. So now I don't even expect that someone else's Aji will surpass; I just hope it comes close.
Since Sanguchon touts themselves as a Peruvian sandwich truck, they serve up their Aji in a tortilla, burrito-style. Traditional aji de gallina consists of shredded chicken simmered in a spicy cream sauce, served with olives and a hard-boiled egg over white rice mixed with garlic and cilantro. My burrito tonight had similarities to the dish that I was used to, but there was definitely a twist. Instead of mostly white rice my burrito had a dirtier mixture to it, and it also had beans. The beans kind of threw me, as they wouldn't normally be served with Aji de Gallina, but perhaps this was Saguchon's way of making it more like a burrito. The sauce was different, too; it was more of an aji mayonnaise that was mixed with the chicken versus a sauce in which the chicken had been simmered. Maybe there was that going on, too, but the sauce dominated. The chicken itself was moist and tender, and the aji was spicy enough to give it a nice kick but subtle enough for the faint of mouth.
I enjoyed my wrap and felt that it was a sandwich that could appeal to everyone—not just connoisseurs of Peruvian food—and I appreciated Sanguchon's attempt to introduce something with mass appeal. I wished that it had been more of a traditional Aji de Gallina just stuffed into a tortilla, but maybe that's just because I had a hankering for familiarity. All in all I think Sanguchon had a solid OtG debut, and if tonight's crowd is any indication, they will be around for a long time to come!
Rating: 3/5 (ratings guide)
Does reading this make you want to try this vendor? Tell them that you saw them at I Left My Cart in San Francisco and support San Francisco street cuisine!