Young and Hungry

Sâuçá Is the Latest in High-Concept Street Food


Sâuçá is the latest addition to the D.C. street food scene, and like the Fojol Bros., the truck is not satisfied to just sell quality bites. It's selling an experience.

In this case, the experience is a concentration, perhaps more like a distillation, of the global cultural community into one high-tech truck.  You can taste it in the international flavors packed into Sâuçá's sandwiches, soups, and Belgian-style waffles. You can hear it in the world music pouring from the truck's sound system. You can even interact with it via Sâuçá's free wireless connection to the World Web Web.

Sâuçá is less interested in authenticity than in its own mash-up of international flavors. It may madden the traditionalists among us, but you can't argue with one thing: Sâuçá has its own style.

I loaded down on a number of items during my debut visit to Sâuçá yesterday. I ordered the pork banh mi, chicken mulligatawny soup, and a bottle of the housemade limunad, which is billed as a "citrus cooler infused with mint and orange blossom."

I should say it was billed that way on the menu; the friendly dude in the truck kept calling it "lemonade," which it decidedly is not. The orange blossom adds such a floral note to the drink that I almost thought Sâuçá had dumped rose water into the liquid. Once your taste buds adjust to the shock, though, the limunad proves fascinating. It's sweeter than lemonade and far more aromatic. It tastes like some exotic, Middle Eastern take on Country Time lemonade, which I guess it sort of is.

The mulligatawny soup, a thick curry-laced puree of chicken and lentils over rice, plays to your sweet tooth, too, no doubt due to the addition of coconut milk. It makes for a fairly vanilla soup. In fact, my first spoonful brought to mind butternut squash, not Indian curry.

But the most interesting (and frustrating) dish has to be the pork banh mi, which is not a classic Vietnamese sandwich on any level. It looks and tastes like sauteed pork meat (not sliced deli meat) layered with pickled vegetables and chiffonade basil and then drenched in at least two different sauces, including peanut and Thai coconut. The border-crossing bite comes rolled in a flatbread that has the airy, slightly chewy texture of naan fresh from the tandoor.

If you're looking for the classic flavors and textures of banh mi, this soft, overly dressed sandwich will be a sore disappointment. If you accept it on its own sweet and spicy terms, it'll prove satisfying, even tasty, if not exactly authentic to any particular international cuisine. It's a cross-cultural mutt of a sandwich, arguably perfect for the global-world-without-borders-melting-pot vibe that Sâuçá is attempting to create.

Sâuçá is an odd concept: It provides a taste of the world without allowing you to feel rooted in any particular country. I'm still trying to decide whether that's a good thing or not.


The high-tech truck has its own wireless microphone system, perfect for spontaneous razzing of potential customers.


The truck even has a computerized ordering system, much like brick-and-mortar restaurants.


Sâuçá's custom-made sauces can be applied however you like.


The menu is handily affixed to the side of the truck.


The roving kitchen includes a flat top, fryer, and burners.


Sâuçá's version of a pork banh mi.