It started last summer when the former Noma pastry chef launched the taco stall Hija de Sánchez in Torvehallerne. Rosio Sánchez’s take on the Mexican staple won rave reviews and generated plenty of buzz – not least when some of her former colleagues made guest appearances in the kitchen.
The taqueria reopens for the summer in early April, along with a smaller stand named Tiendida – “the little place” – which will sell pickles, mole, margaritas and beer on tap. The jewel in the crown, however, is Sánchez’s new permanent spot in Kødbyen, which opened in late March. Also named Hija de Sánchez, it’ll be open all year and aims to draw crowds with its evening opening hours.
Sánchez decided to open the taqueria after growing frustrated with how other people were making tacos. “I thought, I shouldn’t tell them how they should do it, I should just do it.”
Despite her pedigree, however, the Chicagoan was apprehensive about how people would react to her unfamiliar undertaking.
“I went from working at Noma, which was very different, to being out in the open and making something that’s more accessible, that people are going to be eating five seconds after they grab it. I was very nervous.”
The new Kødbyen location will feature a longer menu than at Torvehallerne and including dishes rarely available at the seasonal spot like fish tacos. Particularly eye-catching is the tacos al pastor, made with pineapple and pork marinated in a blend of achiote and other chili peppers. Drinks will include aguas frescas and beer from Warpigs. Sánchez makes everything from scratch, including the masa for the tortillas – the most important part.
“You can make everything else taste pretty nice, but if the tortilla doesn’t taste good,” Sánchez sighs. “We put a lot of effort into making them the way they should be made so you can have a real taco.”
Before she opened last year, Sánchez tried corn from around the world, including Spain and the US. But the American corn was too sweet and the Spanish corn contained too much water. Only corn from the Mexican state of Oaxaca cut the mustard.
“We realised long ago that it’s not going to be like cooking in Mexico, or even in the United States, where it’s easy to get tomatillos or a good jalapeño,” Sánchez explains. But she refused to be deterred and tapped into Noma’s illustrious imaginative spirit.
“I used to think, ‘if we’re not having tomatillos, we’re not making green salsa’. But then I made all these other salsas and thought, ‘this tastes Mexican to me’. By using gooseberries with a blend of different tomatoes instead of tomatillos, we were left with a bright salsa that’s nice and green – and just as good, if not better.”
Despite her success, Sánchez remains admirably humble. What’s surprised her most? “Having a lot of repeat customers,” she smiles. “When they’d come back, I’d be like, ‘Oh cool. Hello again. Welcome back’.” It’s something you suspect she will have to get used to saying a lot more in the future.
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