It took several years of dreaming and planning for chef Carlos Altamirano, the owner of local Peruvian restaurants Mochica and Piqueo’s, before he could realize his Sanguchon (slang term for ‘big sandwich,” derived from ‘sanguche’ in Spanish) and snacks truck. So far, I’ve only found four strictly Peruvian food trucks (entire menu, not just one dish), and none of them specializes on sandwiches – Choza’s Peruvian Food in Portland (2008), Lomo Arigato in Los Angeles (2009), Lomo en Ruedas in Bridgeport, CT (2010), and Las 4 Estaciones in Orlando (2010).
Altamirano brings two sandwich styles popular in the capital of Peru: traditional like the Pan con Chicharron, and criolla which is a sandwich version of common Peruvian dishes, like Lomo Saltado. That last one originated in a popular sandwich shop named La Pava (Miraflores, Peru).
You can’t go wrong with either sandwich ($8 each). In case you’re not familiar with the Lomo Saltado dish, it’s a flavorful stir fry of tender NY steak strips with onions, tomatoes and fries. Yes, french fries. At first, it might seem strange inside a sandwich, but the savory flavors combine well. After a few bites, you’ll feel some heat from the salsa criolla (marinated onions with aji chile). Tame it down with a refreshing glass of chicha morada ($2). A sweet punch drink made from purple corn, cinnamon, cloves and diced apples.
Peruvian Chicharron is made from simmered and fried cuts of pork shoulder, pork belly and/or pork butt. It’s a breakfast item and the most popular sandwich in Peru. The name can be confusing, because the same word can also mean fried pork rinds or pork crackling. This is because the word describes the same process, ‘charred beyond recognition.’ Good Chicharron is tender yet has a crisp crust, meaty but with just enough fat and salt to make it addictive. For the sandwich, a good amount of pork pieces are laid over slices of fried yam, topped with salsa criolla and lubed with rocoto aioli. Simply put, pork lovers heaven.
The menu includes chicken and pork spare ribs sandwiches ($7 each), a few wraps, drinks ($1-$2) and fried side dishes (yuca, sweet potatoes, wontons and plantains) for $4-$6. Plus occasional specials like tamales or empanadas.
There are two Sanguchon trucks, the slightly larger truck #1 is parked on Potrero Hill during lunch hours, on weekdays. While truck #2 roams the bay area, attending Off The Grid events. You can follow the trucks on Twitter or Facebook to get time and location updates.
Photo Credit: Luis Chong