I was going to do a post on Pho, but with the temps hitting the 80's, that just seemed wrong, so I decided to go with something else instead. Recently, I found myself up in the Oceanside area again around lunch time. I'd made a short list of places to visit which came down to Bull Taco, or revisits to Guahan or Panca. I decided on Panca, because the weather just seemed to tell me Peruvian. Plus, I'd heard that Panca had expanded beyond the Pollo a la Brassa and Lomo Saltado and is now incorporating other Peruvian dishes.
I hold a special place in my heart for Peruvian Food, I still recall the first meal I had ages ago at El Rocoto in Gardena, which we revisited a couple of years ago and the flavors and fragrances of Peru are indelibly stored in my head.
So Panca, which is now Panca Peruvian Cuisine AND Rotisserie it was......
Not only has the menu here changed, but the entire look of the interior is different. The bright colors replaced by darker woods. What was interesting for me was the use of wood pallets as window dressing and paneling....it looks like someone here watches those restaurant "rescue" shows, huh?
I really had a hard time selecting my dishes while quaffing down a refreshing, yet bubble-gummy, Inka Cola. Man....I really did miss this stuff!
The menu now had a gauntlet of my favorite dishes; ceviche, tiradito, anticuchos (on weekends), and causa.....
Every version of the Nikkei influenced tiradito has been different. It's always an adventure, a roll of the dice, and gives one an interesting insight into the cook. This one ($12.95) look like many I've had, but was still distinctive.
The fish on this day was red snapper, a nice firm fish. I prefer long thin slices of fish for my tiradito that have been slightly flattened by a knife, this were slices that were a bit too thick for my taste, making the fish really crunchy, rather than having a nice, pleasant chew. The sauce, though on the thin side had decent flavor, but in my opinion could have used a bit more aji amarillo paste and perhaps something, maybe some ginger, to balance out the lime juice and give it a signature finish. It wasn't bad by any means, but for everyday tiradito, I really miss the stuff the original cook at Latin Chef used to make.
My inner glutton said to try the Causa, but the voice of the Missus whispering in my ear from 30 miles away, told me to get the Quinoa Cakes ($6), which being a tamed and docile husband of 15+ years, is what I got.
And I'm glad I did. While the cheese sauces, one much like huacaina really didn't do much for the dish, I really enjoyed the Ocopa, a thick, mildly cheesy sauce that is usually made with peanuts, onion, aji paste, huacatay (I believe this was in paste form as the herbaceous basil-ish flavor was there, but not crazy strong), and thickened with evaporated milk, cookies, saltines, or in this case animal cookies! I gotta have this the traditional way next time, over potatoes. I really enjoyed the texture of the quinoa cakes more than the flavor which I thought was rather mild. The nice light crunch gave way to a fairly light filling which almost melted away in your mouth.
The upbeat, friendly, and very pregnant front person was a great ambassador for the place, making sure the customers were well taken care of. I'm sure I'll be back, I have to try the anticuchos and causa, right?
Panca Peruvian Cuisine and Rotisserie
1902 South Coast Hwy
Oceanside, CA 92054