Foodies, it’s time to add a new destination to your food related travels! Just take a hard turn South and make your way to northwest Nicaragua. Okay, El Sauce may not be on the food channel anytime soon, but there is still a lot to love about its food scene. The Nicaraguan classics like nacatamal, plantains for days, and its amazing refrescos are now being joined by a distinctly non-native presence: Chinese food.
Sang de La, opened its doors Monday, and judging by the sizable lunch and dinner crowds, is already quite popular. For many it represents a dramatic change of food that can help breakup the sometimes-monotonous schedule of gallo pinto and tortillas.* When asked about it, recent lunch goers gushed about the food, and it’s not surprising why. It’s colorful, it’s delicious, and NOT GALLO PINTO.**
But how does a Chinese restaurant end up in a small town in Nicaragua, when you can’t even find it in much larger cities? I recently talked to owner Carlos Antonio Berrios Mayorga about the restaurants origins while waiting for a delicious lunch.
According to Carlos, the idea came to him while spending time in Costa Rica around 6 months ago. He felt that he could bring a unique flavor to El Sauce that included both elements of what you traditionally think of as Chinese food, as well a Nicaraguan flavor to the food. Thus he set about making his dream into a reality.
Support for his idea was abundant for Carlos among his family who quickly bought into the idea and signed on to be employees. Their eagerness was not wasted, as two were quickly sent to Managua to learn how to cook Chinese food. The result? A uniquely Nicaraguan spin on Chinese.
As for the local response, the restaurant has been hopping in its first two weeks. Whether it’s a family eating in the tastefully decorated restaurant, or a couple stopping in to pick up dinner-to-go for the night, from lunch to dinner the place hums right along.
So, the next time you’re in El Sauce, make your way to Sang de La for some chow mein, or Chinese tacos (egg rolls) and the type of friendly service that comes from a happy family working together on a labor of love.
*Writer enjoys gallo pinto and tortillas…
**...writer just eats sooooo much gallo pinto!