The Bacolod Chicken Inasal is as popular all over the world as the city it hails from–Bacolod City. We are found in the province of Negros Occidental, Philippines. But the simple chicken barbecue from the 70s has come a long way to our present taste.
What is Bacolod Chicken Inasal
The Bacolod chicken inasal may sound exotic to some. However, for Bacolodnons, it’s simply a chicken part that was marinated, skewered, and grilled over a charcoal grill.
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It is called inasal, because it is the Hiligaynon term for skewered. Presentations, manner of cooking, and most especially taste, have already evolved. Moreover, many chicken inasal houses are known because of their taste or style of cooking.
The truth of the matter is, no two kinds of Bacolod chicken inasal are the same. It is just a collective name, but if you go to different Bacolod restaurants, each one has its version. And people would go to the place whose taste they prefer. Or maybe, if they are friends with the owners.
How We Love Our Chicken Inasal
My family and I love Bacolod chicken inasal. We often eat out or just buy these for takeout. Additionally, we also bring these along with other grilled dishes during potluck dinners. Or picnics, too. We actually did this during our recent family reunion at Cana Retreat with our clan.
Moreover, we eat the grilled chicken using our hands, with steamed or garlic rice. We pour orange anato oil, which we call chicken oil, over our rice.
Chicken Inasal Throwdown
But it was not until recently that I was able to really to dissect the tastes of different inasal brands. We usually devour our chicken with rice without meticulously studying the taste. As long as it’s dipped in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and chili, we’re good.
However, my hubby and I got invited to the Bacolod Chicken Inasal Throwdown organized by the Entrepreneurial class of the University of St. La Salle.
It was a lunchtime event. While we were parking our car from a distance, we could already smell the pleasant aroma of chicken inasal being grilled. The smell is unmistakable.
Sampling Different Kinds of Chicken Inasal
Three popular inasal houses joined the event. These were Nena’s Rose, Aida’s, and Masskara Chicken. The audience, which numbered more than a hundred, was served with pecho-pak (breast with wing). But we were not told who cooked what. It was blind sampling.
From tasting all of them, we had to decide which was the best one for us. We would base our choice merely on the taste.
Most of us in our table unanimously chose one. It later turned out to be Bacolod chicken inasal from Aida’s Manokan. It did garner the most votes from the rest of the audience. But before you make judgments, read the rest of my article.
Below are perhaps the most popular inasal restaurants in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. After your meal, don’t forget to have some of the best desserts in Bacolod!
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Bacolod Chicken Inasal Restaurants
Chicken House is THE original Bacolod chicken inasal. It was owned by a different family back in the 70s. Find the history of the chicken inasal below.
At present, they now have Bacolod restaurants at Araneta St., Lacson St., San Juan Street, and Hilado St. (Shopping). People come here for their flavorful inasal as well as their grilled pork chop. Their chicken tastes simple yet complicated. The meat is tender and grilled just right. Flavors go through and through the meat.
And aside from the taste, many people come to the Chicken House because of their restaurant. They have an air-conditioned area, too, that can serve as a function room. However, you have to pay an extra 10% charge for the aircon.
Many people like Aida’s Manokan because their chicken is so flavorful. Bacolod chicken inasal has a rather sour taste because of the vinegar in the marinade. It is NOT marinated in soy sauce, so the flesh remains white. Vinegar is just combined with several other ingredients, including ginger.
The basting, however, has anato oil, which explains the orange-brownish skin. But inside, it is white. I think that Aida’s represented the essence of Bacolod Chicken Inasal.
Chicken Deli has been around for decades. They are the only ones among Bacolod restaurants serving their kind of Bacolod chicken inasal. While they grill their barbecue over charcoal, there’s a fan that blows the smoke away.
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Their chicken is cooked a little bit longer and is a bit dry. But the skin does not have a lot of those charred parts common in inasal. At present, they offer unli-rice in their restaurants. Restaurants are located at 8th-Lacson Streets, Lopue’s East, and Gaisano City.
The name Nena’s has many spin off Bacolod restaurants, including Nena’s Rose. They are the most popular because, they are the first to branch out from Manokan Country.
We also buy from them and occasionally eat at their branch at B.S. Aquino Drive. But what we don’t like is that most of the skin gets burned. I think it is because of the abrupt fire. But the result is juicy Bacolod chicken inasal. We just remove most of the skin because it has become charred.
Masskara Chicken is one of the newest players but they quickly became popular. Their Bacolod chicken inasal is I think a bit bigger and also very flavorful. But it’s sweet and not sour.
The cooked inasal is yellow-orange, which makes me think that they marinate theirs with achuete. They have a branch at 6th-Lacson Streets and Robinsons City Walk.
The Manokan Country is the hub of Bacolod Chicken Inasal. There are more than 10 different restaurants serving inasal. They also skewer and grill different chicken parts, including dried blood and feet. Additionally, they have pork barbecue as well as blanched oysters.
There are no air conditioned areas here but people come for the food and the experience.
Lion’s Park Grill Haus
Lion’s Park Grill Haus is the first restaurant on the right side facing Manokan Country. It is set apart from the others because it has its own garden and a children’s playground.
Many families come here for their favorite chicken inasal as well as the talaba “oysters”. They also have a turo-turo food counter that’s open all day.
Sidewalk Bacolod Chicken Inasal
Bacolod chicken inasal, pork barbecue, and other grilled parts are street food here. There’s no street corner without a food cart grilling from the afternoon until late evening.
Additionally, each village has its own inasal joint. They have their own suki (patrons).
So whatever you fancy, there is always a Bacolod chicken inasal for you. Just remember to eat the inasal and rice using your hands. It’s how we the locals do it.
I don’t know why, but it seems using your hands while eating makes the food more appetizing. It’s fun and gross at the same time. :p Welcome to Bacolod!
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History of Bacolod Chicken Inasal
Here’s a little background about the Bacolod Chicken Inasal. Originally written by Lloyd Tronco, Paraphrased by Sigrid Says
The humble beginnings of the chicken inasal may be traced back to a small street in Bacolod.
Before Manokan Country became an institution in Bacolod, there was a series of stalls along Cuadra Street. It is near the Bacolod public plaza, which became known as Chicken Alley. This was started by Elisa Velez-Garrucho, her sister Nena, and the other Velez siblings.
Because of its proximity to the Bacolod public plaza and the jeepney stops, people flocked to the area. They bought barbecued chicken that we now know as Bacolod chicken inasal. Back in the 70s, the dish was simply called “inasal”.
Manokan Country and Bacolod Chicken Inasal
As it became popular, inasal found a new home in the reclamation area. It is now known as Manokan Country, which can be translated as Chicken Country.
The locals started going to Manokan Country that offered seating to the diners. Eventually, the area got too crowded, so Elisa got out and put up Chicken House. The first restaurant was established in San Sebastian Street, near the Garrucho residence. Eliza’s sister, Nena, also followed.
Vincent, one of Eliza’s sons, recalls that he and his sisters were trained to know the recipe. “Honestly, we can do the original inasal with our eyes closed. Almost everyday, our packed lunch to school was fried chicken inasal. People haven’t tried that yet.”
Additionally, Vincent recalls that as kids, they were trained to marinade the chicken every morning. After school, they all worked as servers in the restaurant.
Eliza Velez Garrucho has been credited to have contributed to making Bacolod chicken inasal famous. Eventually, Garrucho sold Chicken House to the Cajili family in 1976. The rest is history.