The Fast Food Chicken Inasal Taste TestJune 2, 2020
Inasal is definitely one of the most popular regional dishes in the Philippines, and has become more ubiquitous in recent years. It is simple, but so damn comforting, and always begs for more rice (and more chicken oil). After a blind taste test, here’s what we thought about some of our favorite fast food inasal joints.
- Fast food chain must be quick service with more than 2 branches
- Both pecho and paa must be judged
- Eaten without any condiments
1. Bacolod Chicken Inasal
- Pecho: The breast was a little hard and dry on the outside, but pulls of the fork revealed a bit of tender meat towards the middle.
- Paa: There was a strong amount of char on the outside, but far more tender than its breast counterpart.
The flavor was okay overall, but needed a lot…more of it. The flavor was muted once you got deep into the chicken, disappearing after the first few layers. The flavor only stayed in the skin, and never really got down to the meat.
You really need the sawsawan with this one. It was much better than the previous one we tried (that of Mang Inasal; see below), and had promise, but we were disappointed once we got down to the bones.
2. Bacolod Chicken House
- Pecho: The breast was pretty dry. Not the driest one of the lot, but still tough to get into.
- Paa: The paa was one of our favorites; the meat looked juicy, and delivered its promise. Seriously succulent.
These chickens had one of the most authentic flavors, and were the closest to inasal as we know it. It had all the components of inasal down pat, like its smokiness, and beautifully tempered flavors of lemongrass, Sprite, annatto.
This was the closest contender to what was our eventual favorite, Chicken Bacolod. However, we found something funky–while the thigh part tasted seriously delicious, the breast was a whole other story. It was dry, and seemed as if it had a different, much more sour marinade. It tasted so much of Sprite, and even retained a bit of the lemon-y fizziness of it. Buy the paa, just in case.
3. Mang Inasal
- Pecho: For a breast, it was surprisingly tender, which may have something to do with the fact that these pieces were gigantic. The breast for once, might have been even juicier than the thigh.
- Paa: The piece was also big, with juicy meat.
You could tell from the color right away, that this was not inasal. Well it may have been good, the marinade was sweet, and more like barbecue, not inasal. It might have gotten top marks if it were a whole different contest entirely.
This place had some highlights, like the size of their pieces, and the tender breast. But the chicken was not inasal; it was sweet. The sugars in the marinade gave it a glazed effect, and weirdly enough, rubbery skin.
4. Inasal Chicken Bacolod
- Pecho: The breast was rock hard, and might have been the worst of the taste test. It was really dry to the bone. The meat was just as crispy as the skin on it.
- Paa: While thighs are often better, this was hard to cut through.
The marinade had a dominating flavor which we couldn’t quite guess; it was either sour from too much calamansi, or suffered from too much ginger. Whatever made it sour, there was a lot of it.
These chickens did not skimp on flavor–you could taste the marinade all the way through, except that we wish the marinade was different. It was relatively unbalanced, and both meat parts were tough.
5. Chicken Bacolod
- Pecho: What was brilliant about this one is they had flattened the breast so that it was all cooked evenly, resulting in meat that was succulent.
- Paa: The thigh proved to be just as good, with crispy skin, and soft meat.
This one had our favorite flavor profile. Not too sour, not too salty, really nice color from the marinade. There was no need for chicken oil or sauces to enhance the already well-rounded taste.
This was our eventual favorite. The pieces were gigantic, and were evenly cooked. It had the most balance, which proved that a seriously good inasal needs no sawsawan or chicken oil (even though we’ll still be pouring that on).