2012 Bib Gourmand winner
You’re about to fall in love with leche de tigre. You just don’t know it yet.
The key to Peruvian hangover cures, this cousin to Clamato are the tart, briny, magical leftovers of ceviche-making. A sort of spicy fish juice, really, packed with eye-popping flavor. And the key to the best plate of ceviche you’ll find in the North Bay.
Kin to the popular San Francisco Peruvian restaurants, Fresca, Roseland’s Sazon is a clean, compact and modern spot awakening local tastebuds with their take on South America’s most multi-cultural cuisine.
Using native ingredients (corn, root veggies and beans) as their base, immigrant influences from China (rice), Japan (raw fish, seaweed), Spain (rice, wheat, beef), Italy and West Africa lend depth and complexity to contemporary Peruvian comfort cuisine.
On the menu: Papa a la Huanciana, a soft boiled potato with Huancaina sauce (a garlic cheese sauce), hard boiled egg, olive and feta; Ceviche Mixto, a mix of prawns, scallops, fish, clams and squid “cooked” in citrus and served with the plate-lickable Leche de Tigre, Conzco corn (a sort of giant corn kernel), toasted cancha (a tosted corn) and roasted sweet potato. Chupe de Camarones is a creamy shrimp chowder packed with rice, corn, potatoes and a poached egg. Entrees are traditional homestyle foods — Lomo Saltado (fried tenderloin steak with onion, tomato, soy sauce and fries tossed together); Polla a la Brasa (rotisserie chicken), Aji de Gallina (pulled chicken stew with rice) and Picante de Mariscos (a seafood stew with peas, cream sauce and rice). On the side, all manner of fried plantains, yucca and sweet potatoes, each with their own sauce.
None of the dishes are overly spicy, just for the sake of being hot, though native chilies bring a light tingle to some dishes. Expect lots of starchiness (rice, potatoes, yucca), which are staples of the diet along with bright, fresh citrus and herb notes.
Daily specials are worth taking a detour for — potato croquettes or beef heart skewers — that may require a little courage, but pay off in spades. Ice creams, which are usually an afterthought, are also worth saving room for. Owners Jose and Pablo Navarro go to San Francisco to secure the dreamiest of frozen desserts, Pisco (a native brandy) and raisin or lucuma (a native fruit that tastes like maple) ice creams.
Lunch and dinner menus don’t differ significantly, aside for a few extra evening entrees. Beer and wine are still in the works, but BYOB ($10 corkage) is fine. A outdoor walk-up counter serves up ice cream and desserts. And may we suggest perhaps Leche de Tigre shooters?
Sazon, 1129 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, 523-4346. Open daily from 11:30am.