by Lauren Pope, Staff Writer
Rodrigo Linan’s grandfather, Rudolfo, passed away before he was born, but he feels that he knows him through the food that his mother cooked for her own family. She worked in Rudolfo’s Lima, Peru restaurant as a young woman, and she brought that knowledge and a vast collection of recipes home with her. Rodrigo grew up eating that food, and now he’s introduced it to Zachary via his Aji City food truck.
You might have seen the food truck every week at the Zachary Farmer’s Market. “Ms. Nita invited us. She was an early supporter of our concept, and everyone at the Farmer’s Market has just been so great,” says Rodrigo. In addition to their standing station at the Farmer’s Market, Aji City can also be found Wednesday-Friday, typically from 12-5 in front of Fun Time Pools.
Currently, it’s just Rodrigo and his wife, Mandy, running the entire operation. “We met working in a restaurant in Salt Lake City. She has front of house experience and I have back of house, so it’s a great partnership. I trust her to run the front, and she trusts me to run the back.”
Mandy grew up in Zachary, so coming here was coming home. “There aren’t a lot of Peruvian restaurants in this area, and sourcing things can be a challenge, but everyone here is so friendly and understanding of what we’re trying to do.” Rodrigo says that he travels to Houston about once a month to get the more esoteric ingredients, and also shops in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Kenner.
Because Aji’s Peruvian cuisine is a fusion style called Chifa he sources a lot of his ingredients from Asian markets. Chifa fuses Cantonese elements with traditional Peruvian spices like Aji Amarillo and Rocoto peppers. An example of this delicious fusion on the Aji City menu is their famous Aeropuerto, a dish that combines roasted pork or chicken with fried rice, chow mien noodles, soy sauce blend, andouille sausage, egg, green onion, bean sprouts, and sesame seeds.
As we move into the (hopefully!) cooler months, Rodrigo plans to add some more braised meats and seasonal recipes to complement their current offerings. He’s also considering adding more of the Peruvian Italian recipes that his grandfather used to make. Developing the food truck was a longtime dream, and his first year of operations has been very well received. If you’re a fan of fusion cuisine, you won’t be disappointed with anything on the menu.