New Peruvian Chicken in Reston
There's another new (to me) pollo place in Herndon that impressed me on Wednesday. Chicken Rico, near the Giant on Elden
(1254 Elden Street
Herndon, VA 20170).
I had gotten Guapo's the day before, which is okay, though they skimp on the sauces and yucca. Saw this place on my way back to the training I was taking and went Wed.
They said they opened last June. It had decent traffic (not overwhelming, but not a ghost town). The chicken was solid - better than the overly seasoned stuff at Guapos. The yucca was very good (and they didn't skimp on portions). Best part though was that they had a LOT of options for sides. They also had a good bit on the menu otherwise, but the sides were what impressed me on this initial visit. The options reminded me of some of the better kebab places for sides, and in fact I got spinach which was very good and not too dissimilar from what you'd get at a kebab place. Salads are made in front of you and they had a coleslaw soup which seemed intriguing. But I wanted to "test" them on merits similar to the usual pollo places, so the other sides and dishes will have to wait for a return visit before long.
I have been eating at the Peruvian chicken places since the early 90's and have even had Peruvian chicken in Peru of all places. This place was a little to Americanized for my liking the dipping sauces tasted a bit off, and the chicken itself was a bit over seasoned and slightly off, it wasn't bad but just not the quality of Crispy and Juicy in Falls Church, or Pollo Rico in Arlington. There are a lot of Peruvian places popping up and like many ethnic places the "authentic" methods always find there way to my plate over the imitations. That said, I didn't dislike Pollo Peru it just didn't hit a home run in my book
I tried the 1/4 chicken meal here tonight. It comes with 2 sides, I chose salad and Yucca. The salad was just a styrofoam container packed with mixed greens, but at least the base lettuce was Romaine, and not Iceburg. The dressing was a simple balsamic vinaigrette. The Yucca was not as well-browned as I'd like, and had a strange (at least to me) sweet flavor. It was cooked through, so I assume they boil or steam it first. The green sauce that came with it also was slightly sweet. It looked a little strange to me, not like the more chopped look from Super Chicken or my favorite Pollo Inti sauce which is thinner with visible bits of cilantro, this had the look of bad guacamole, a kind of smooth, dull green.
As for the chicken, I think it has the potential to be outstanding. The spices were rubbed both on the outside of the skin and between the skin and the meat. The leg piece of my portion was moist, but the thigh was on the edge of overcooked. I can only imagine how overcooked and dry the breast from that bird must have been. The flavor on the leg was delicious but it could not overcome the dryness on the rest of the portion.
The styrofoam plate and plastic utensils made cutting the meat off the bones a tricky business. I wonder if they'll add real plates and utensils once they've been open a while.
Finally got there today for lunch. What marketing skill, location being next to the Home Despot.
The chicken was on par with the best I've had in the entire metro region. Very nice and you can see it cooking.
But for me that's where the magic ended. The slaw was way overloaded with mayo. I'd like a little bit of cabbage in there, ya know?
The yuca. I'm not sure what that was. It was puffy, without crunch, and just... odd. The green sauce certainly wasn't spicy. It seemed watered down if anything.
I'll probably go back, but just get the "diet special" for just the chicken and salad.
re: Dennis S
I'm glad they have the diet special. When they first opened you had to get two sides, and we often don't want any. I still wish you could buy just the chicken. And that they had tortillas.
I've been just a tad disappointed in the chicken compared to the best we've had - a little place in Arlington. It was a little dry the three times we got it - all late evening, in case that matters.
I want to like it more since we're in Reston. They're new; will give them time.