By Susan Burke March
Chef Paúl Abril spent a number of years working in restaurants after graduating from the University of Cuenca’s Culinary Arts program, three of them in a Japanese restaurant. But like so many entrepreneurs with a passion he decided to strike out on his own, a brave step, knowing how difficult it is to overcome the challenges of the restaurant business.
And his loyal customers will tell you that Chef Paúl has successfully executed a seemingly simple yet hard-to-achieve concept — to serve the very finest sandwich in Cuenca.
“Sanduchef’s” is an original chef-owned and operated sandwich shop — once you’ve tried one of the Chef’s signature creations, you’ll never feel the same about ingredients served between bread.
This is a gourmet sandwich, not just meat on a bun. Sanduchef’s is all about flavor, each sandwich a well-thought-out marriage of savory tastes…some picante and some dulce, some with a ‘kick’, others with a hint of natural sweetness from fresh pineapple. This is fast-food with a healthy side, with a menu offering options not typically seen in Cuenca.
I asked Chef Paúl which of the sandwiches were special customer favorites. He immediately named two: the ‘Montañita Beach’ and the ‘Speedy Gonzalez’.
The ‘Beach’ is a juicy grilled chicken breast BBQ sandwich, served with mushrooms and pineapple topped with home-made salsa de naranjilla. It’s a meal-sized sandwich and costs only $4.25.
The ‘Speedy Gonzalez’ is a complex combination of “lomo de cerdo y tocino ahumado acompañado de frijol negro, cebollas y guacamole, bañado con un salsa ranchera Sanduchef’s”. Wow! Pork loin and smoked bacon accompanied with black beans, onions and guacamole, topped with Sanduchef’s own ranchero sauce — Chef Paul makes all of his salsas fresh, including a favorite incorporating those tart and delicious golden uvilla berries. Additional fresh salsas include chimichurri mayonnaise, Thousand Island, and Japanese teriyaki. All home-made, all delicious.
Other beefy sandwiches include teriyaki pork, barbequed beef, and…hamburgers. Hamburgers are a blend of 14 different ingredients — I convinced Chef Paúl to name me a few…besides the “best beef”, he blends in smoked bacon, mozzarella cheese, fresh onions and garlic, seasonings … and … well, the rest is a well-kept secret. You’ll have to try a burger and keep the guessing going.
Those who want to eat lighter fare will find options such as the ‘Cristobal Camarón’ shrimp sandwich, the ‘Vegetariano’, or the ‘Pollo Taj Mahal’, a curried grilled chicken breast with a medley of red, green and yellow peppers served with a home-made mustard sauce.
Chef Paul allows customers to control their portions depending on their appetite. If you’re hungry, for an additional $0.75 the ‘Combo #1’ includes an order of fresh-cut rustic French fries plus a drink. Bigger appetite? For an additional $0.75 more, the ‘Combo #2’ includes rustic “cheesy fries” — fries topped with two types of melted cheese plus a drink too.
All of Sanduchef’s creations are served on special bread, baked to order daily in a wood oven, according to Chef Paúl’s own recipe. This expertly made bread is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.
Chef Paul related that his dream for Sanduchef’s was to create something original and exciting, and to serve the freshest ingredients. He was a bit worried when he started that Cuencanos may not appreciate the fusion of flavors that he brings to the menu. But appreciate they do, so much so that Chef Paul is planning on opening a second location near the Estadio Alejandro Serrano (The Stadium), with long-range plans to expand to locations in Quito and Guayaquil.
Sanduchef’s: Sandwiches with a difference! A unique fusion of flavors in Cuenca.
Prices range from $3.75 for the Clásica cheeseburger to $7.00 for the Sanduchef’s Burguer Combo #2, served with bacon, mushrooms, scalloped cheesy fries ‘al gratin’ plus a drink.
Call ahead, they deliver, or use the MEGAbite app to order online. Check out their Facebook page — Sanduchef’s runs regular promotional specials, such as two-for-one sandwiches — grab a friend and rev up your appetite!
Mon: 18:00 – 23:00 (6:00 pm – 11 pm)
Tue – Wed, Thu – Fri, Sat: 12:00 – 15:00 (12 noon – 3:00 pm) and 18:00 – 23:00 (6:00 PM – 11:00 pm)
Sun: 17:00 – 21:00 ( 5 pm – 9 pm)
Address: Paseo de los Cañaris y Pachacamac Esq.
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