Friday, July 1, 2011
Doing the Ilonggo Chicken Dance
I don’t know how it all started or where it came from. But the craving just suddenly hit me. And it hit me hard.
For a week I was going crazy over everything Ilonggo- La Paz batchoy, Casa Carmela’s pitaw (bottled snipe cooked adobo-style), and chicken inasal. Good friend and fellow foodie Cookie Goddess picked up on my obsession and said that we had to try this inasal place in Quezon City. I am known to travel long distances for food, so lunch in the not-too-far north was not such a bad idea.
One stormy day, I carpool with Cookie Goddess and Mrs. G-Ro to Bacolod Chicken Parilla. Parilla is what they call grilled meats in Argentina. Every part of the cow (which is king in Argentina) is used, so do not be surprised when you see intestines, tongue and even penis (!) in the open charcoal pit. But Bacolod Chicken Parilla is obviously about the Philippine’s poultry of choice, with statistics showing that Pinoy’s consume 500,000 tons of chicken a year. The Ilonggos, I have discovered, can cook it like the best of them, and that is why I felt the need to brave flood waters to have a taste of what seems to be the Scout area’s best kept secret.
We spot a table in the air-conditioned area and promptly place our orders. I admire the sauce bottles filled with vinegar, soy sauce and chicken oil, and I know that I’m in for a multi-sensory treat.
As soon as the garlic rice was placed on the table, our chatter suddenly stops, knowing that we are only moments away from inasal heaven.
We ordered a plate of liempo, simply because we love pig and would want to see how Parilla does theirs. It was a bit anti-climactic, I must admit, knowing that we have all had better grilled pork belly. So again, we wait impatiently for what we came here for. (Actually, we didn’t wait long- maybe all of 10 minutes. But we were hungry beasts, so it felt like forever.)
Finally, the plate piled high with grilled paa (chicken leg quarters) arrived. Beautifully charred in the edges by hot charcoals, the flesh is juicy and a healthy orange from the achuete oil. We all dig in, soaking the inasal and rice with chicken oil. I take a bite of the chicken, without dipping sauce first, appreciating the perfectly-balanced marinade that flavored the meat- the aromatic garlic, a little zing from the ginger, and a slight tanginess at the end from the vinegar. All the strong flavors were blending seamlessly together, but not in an overpowering way that the grilled chicken gets lost in it.
As we devoured the paa, the plate of random chicken parts we ordered was placed down on the table- atay (liver), baticolon (gizzard) and isol (butt). My family knows how much I love chicken butt, and more often than not it is immediately offered to me when we share a whole roast chicken. Parilla’s has a glistening, crisp skin, a fitting case for the juicy, fatty inside. If you have not tried chicken butt, it comes pretty close to beef bone marrow in terms of richness. That’s all you need to know. The baticolon was just alright for me- it had the texture of a silicon swimming cap, something that I don’t normally chew on. People who are into it love it, though, and I bet they will like Parilla’s. The liver, too, is something I enjoyed- simply because I love liver.
I brought home some paa and Kansi (Ilonggo-style bulalo) for Matt, and he loved the food as much as we did. He admits, though, that if I did not tell him I got it from Parilla, he initially thought the chicken came from JT’s Manukan (which we have had on several occasions, and we just had delivered a few days prior). In my non-expert opinion, I do think that Parilla (along with JT’s) is one of the best chicken inasal I have tried in Manila.
Great. This craving thing has just become a vicious cycle.
Bacolod Chicken Parilla
Sct. Gandia cor. Sct. Reyes Sts.
Tel. no. (632) 371 8522