Sanguchon, the first Peruvian food truck to call San Francisco home, labels itself a Peruvian sanguchería, a kind of sandwich shop that is extremely popular in Peru. So despite the fact that my first taste from this truck was a wrap, I knew I had to try one of the several sandwiches on the menu. And when you take pollo a la brasa, which is one of Peru's favorite dishes, and put it in a bun, my dinner choice was set.
Sanguchon is chef Carlos Altamirano's first foray into food trucks after previous acclaim with Piqueo's, Mochica and La Costanera restaurants. After standing in line for what seemed like a half hour, I finally got to the front and placed my order for the Pollo a la Brasa Sandwich and the Yucca Fries.
Trying to decide between a chicha morada and an Inca Kola to drink, I asked the lady at the ordering window if their chicha was housemade or bottled. Luckily they make their own, so that made the choice easy. Chicha morada is a purple corn drink that is both sweet and spicy at the same time. It's definitely an acquired taste to those who were not raised on it, but the myriad of spices and flavors are terribly pleasing once you get used to it.
Pollo a la brasa is roughly translated as Peruvian charcoal roast chicken, a dish originally conceived by Roger Schuler, a Swiss hotelier in Lima. The chicken in my sandwich had some nice charcoal black spots to it, which gave the dish a nice smokiness. It was moist and juicy, though I think a little more salt would have brought out all the flavors.
The sandwich was topped with a garlic-lime mayo spread which didn't impart very much lime taste, though the garlic was pleasant. It was further accented with fresh greens and tomato, which mimicked the salad which would normally be served on a pollo a la brasa platter. There were some marinated red onions, too, which is always my favorite part of arroz con pollo. They stayed crunchy and sweet and had a good tang to them, contrasting well to the smoky, spicy chicken.
What was missing, however, was the french fries! There are few things better than sopping up the lime and chicken juice from your pollo a la brasa with a few french fries, and I missed that about this sandwich. It's understandable that the goal wasn't to stuff a traditional Peruvian meal into a sandwich, but nevertheless it was still disappointing because it was what I was used to. Besides, french fries make a great accompaniment to sandwiches in general, so it wouldn't hurt to throw a few in on the side.
The french bread, which is specially baked for Sanguchon, was firm enough to offer a solid foundation for the sandwich yet light enough to not be chewy. Sanguchon in Spanish basically means "really big sandwich," and while they were bigger than a lot of hamburgers, I wouldn't fear for my life if it were chasing me down.
Since traditional french fries were not included with my sandwich I ordered a side of Yucca Fries to round out my meal. My Yucca Fries were great; they were crispy on the outside but still soft and creamy in the middle. Too often yucca can get really dry on the inside, and these suffered from none of that. What was mildly disappointing was opening up the container to find five pieces of yucca taking up hardly any space at all. At first I wondered if there were supposed to be more in there, but then I realized that I was missing the huancaina sauce to dip them in. The sauce itself had a good cheese flavor, but by the fourth piece of yucca I found myself scraping the sides of the container trying to get enough to dip. A little more dip and a few more pieces of yucca would have made the dish more memorable for its flavor, rather than for the small size.
Rating: 3/5 (ratings guide)
Sanguchon (@sanguchon_sf) $7.00 per sandwich, $4.00 per order of fries
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!