Monday, June 28, 2010

Pollo Peruano, First of Many

La Casa del Pollo Peruano specializes in, as the name might suggest, Peruvian chicken. What's so great about Peruvian chicken, you might be asking yourself? It isn't the chicken that's so exciting. Rotisserie chicken is rotisserie chicken, be it Peruvian or from any other country. For me, it always has been and always will be about the sauce. Oh, that green sauce! While the quality of the food may differ from location to location in the small chain that is Pollo Peruano, the sauce remains consistent. José and I have a system when it comes to our meals there. We always order the same thing and the one time that we differed (there was a chop suey incident that I don't care to discuss) was a disaster. The location on National Street close to 103rd is our preferred location, but since we no longer live in Corona, we make do with the Roosevelt and 82nd St. branch. Here's our order: Number 3 (1/4 chicken, roast pork fried rice & salad $5.20) and Number 7 (1/4 chicken 3-piece spareribs, rice & beans $9.90. And for some reason, and this began about seven years ago, when we eat in, I always get a ginger ale, and Jose gets an orange Snapple. Why? Who knows. It just needs to be done.
Next comes the sauce. For take out, it's whatever they give us, and then I ask for a little extra, and after that I ask for a dollar's worth more. At $.25 a container, it's well worth it. Then the division of the sauce begins.
There are larger containers and smaller ones, the small ones go first. I have yet to figure out the secret to green sauce, or how it's made. I don't know why the sauce is so great, it just is. Tangy, garlicky, and a little spicy, with a very unique flavor from the mystery ingredients. After much research, the secret ingredient might be an herb called huacatay, otherwise known as black mint. Or it could be the Peruvian chile, aji. I don't know. I really don't. But I'm not doing it justice in this description at all. What I do know is that it is delicious, and goes perfectly with chicken, ribs, rice, beans, salad, and fried rice. The vinegar and heat cut the fattiness of the ribs, the salt of the chicken, add depth to the fried rice, and it's perfect on crisp iceberg lettuce (ask for no dressing otherwise you get 1000 Island). For those of you who love Pio Pio and their creamy green sauce, this one is lighter, spicier, and tangier. They are both good. But I like this one more.
The 1/4 chicken and ribs. Sometimes the ribs are amazing. Huge, lots of meat, tender, and fall off the bone. A nice charred taste with a hint of sweetness. Sometimes the meat is tough. Most of the time, if you don't get there early enough on a weekend, there are no ribs left at all. The chicken is much more reliable. Mahogany-colored skin, full of herbs and salt, the meat is soft and shreds easily.
White rice and soupy beans. I don't usually want rice and beans with my chicken because I get...
fried rice! I love the rice here, it's better than most Chinese places. Bits of roasted pork, scallions, and lots of soy. And with the sauce mixed in, perfection.

I realize after re-reading this post that I haven't said much of anything. I guess that's what happens with something that I eat fairly regularly, something that is often so good, and sometimes not so much. I don't have the right words, but I wanted to write about it anyway.

La Casa del Pollo
Peruano II
81-12 Roosevelt Avenue
Jackson Heights

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