As a culinary hobbyist, one of the things I enjoy keeping my eye on are food trends. Similar to say fashion trends, food trends have the potential to shape the culinary landscape of anything from a city to an entire country. One of the most powerful forces in casual dining at the moment is street food in the form of food trucks. Highly mobile and efficient, the market for innovative and tasty street food has exploded in Vancouver over the past year. When the great gents over at VANEATS.ca invited Eating in Vancouver & the World out to preview their new collaboration with El Salvadoran food truck Guanaco, I was intrigued because quite honestly I had no concept of what food in El Salvador was like. As with many trying this type of cuisine for the first time, I was eager to be gastronomically educated.
As part of the “GUANACOMBO” dining pass, you will receive:
A. “Pasteles” deep fried maize pocket stuffed with beef/chicken, cheese and vegetables
B. “Yuca Frita” deep fried cassava root
C. “Pupusas” choose from 1 of 4 – Revueltas, Queso Y Frijoles, Ayote or Pollo
D. “Bebidas” choose from 1 of 3 – Horchata, Tamarindo or Cebada Bebidas
E. “Curtido” pickled slaw
After receiving my Guanaco plate and finding a seat, the first thing I noticed was how varied the assortment was. Digging first into the pupusa, I definitely appreciated the fresh, natural taste of the hand made corn tortilla. Although there were four options, I opted for the very traditional Revuelta Pupusa which contained cheese, beans and a ground pork paste. This was my first time trying a pupusa but I found it quite good. Eaten with the tart slaw and a watery tomato salsa, I assumed this was the main offering due to its size and surprising heft. The brief sear on the hot cook top partially melted the cheese which went well with the pork and beans.
My favorite part of the plate was definitely the Yuca Frita or deep fried cassava root. So different from your normal french fries, these deep fried sticks were so crispy with the cassava root thick and rich like squash. After the pupusa, I was already getting full but the Pastele could not be passed up. Deep fried until it was a golden brown, this El Salvadoran meat pocket is filled with beef, vegetables and cheese. Whereas the pupusa was warm and doughy like a pita wrap, the pastele is crisp and sharp. I felt the filling for the pupusa and pastele tasted quite similar which made the significantly different exterior so important.
To wash everything down you get an option of 3 very unique drinks. Just like the food discussed above, the drinks were definitely authentic and tasted as such. I went with the pink bebidas and was pretty impressed with the taste. It was a great idea to offer authentic bebidas for this pass instead of a boring can of pop as the entire meal really ties together quite well. Although I have yet to travel to beautiful El Salvador, I believe I have now had a pretty genuine meal that many locals/natives can identify with.
Wrapping up with a few final thoughts, I had no idea what to expect before this preview lunch. I am pretty embarrassed to confess I probably could not have named a single El Salvadoran staple dish before this food truck experience. For Vancouver food truck lovers or anyone looking for something different, this pass is definitely for you. For those tired of the standard street food fare, Guanaco Food Truck definitely provides a glimpse into a cuisine you probably do not try every day. At only $9, I can think of no better way to sample some of El Salvador’s most popular culinary dishes.
If you enjoyed the photos and review above, definitely check out the VANEATS.ca Guanaco Food Truck video above to learn more about this pass. If you have read enough and just want to eat, the “GUANACOMBO” dining pass will be available for $9. Head over to VANEATS.ca to buy your pass and enjoy!