Tucked in a narrow street in San Juan, Café Sansó has been quietly operating for three years, offering a selection of Spanish-inspired dishes. Next to it is Fundacion Sansó, a multilevel museum highlighting some of the works of Catalonian painter Juvenal Sansó.
The frail 88-year-old artist was at the museum during our recent visit, quietly painting a page torn out of a coloring book of his works. His caregiver held a tube of green paint that Sansó took a dab of now and then, haltingly applying it to the elongated leaves outlined in black.
The artist seldom goes to the café, but when he does, he likes to indulge his sweet tooth, head chef JB Calungcaguin said.
The café’s churro cups with ice cream have been a crowd pleaser since it opened. The batter is made fresh daily, cooked on order, and topped with scoops of vanilla, double chocolate and salted caramel bacon ice cream.
The residual heat from the just-cooked churros gently melts the ice cream, making it easier to spoon into one’s mouth.
As part of the café’s starting team, Calungcaguin conceptualized the menu, which includes Francesinha, a hefty sandwich with layers of jamon Serrano, chipolata sausage, wild mushrooms, and three kinds of cheese on sourdough bread.
“It’s a sandwich famous in Portugal that nobody else makes,” he said, adding that he gave it a twist by concocting a beer-infused tomato sauce to go with the seasoned fries.
Calungcaguin’s version of Pinoy fave lechon kawali is Churrasco Pork Belly served with sautéed haricot verts and marble potatoes. His paella Valenciana is given some local flavor with the chicken and pork pieces cooked in gingery tinola broth.
Another paella, Chorizo y Quezo, combines homemade chorizo with melted manchego and mozzarella. “One couple who ordered it had just been to Spain. They told the staff the paella was not traditional but that they liked it,” he said.
“Our vision for Café Sansó is to focus on Spanish food—since Señor Sansó is from Catalonia —but not limiting ourselves to just that. The food has to be relatable to our customers, many of whom are families with children in tow.”
This week, the café is rolling out a new menu that now includes a selection of steaks and chops, as well as a kids’ menu with fried chicken and sweet meatball pasta.
Don’t miss out on the churro ice cream cups.
Café Sansó is at 32 V. Cruz St. Little Baguio, San Juan.
Call 0922 894-6144.