Let’s face it. We love food. It’s one of the most universal things that connect the human race. Through food, different cultures share the passion they have for it and we as individuals partake in this precious commodity. We indulge and become institutionalized in the asylum that is our tastebuds. For some, our eyes are hypnotized by the elegance and sophistication of how food is plated or just how amazing that piece of fried chicken looks seconds before it’s consumed. However, before one looks at or devours their favorite dish, it is our sense of smell that first beckons us to answer the call of food. If it’s the smell of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven to the welcome smell of bbq on a summer’s day, our olfactory sense is something that is cherished and makes us appreciate food even more before that first bite is taken.
A couple months ago I found myself in Gardena walking to work every day. Each day, I was always bombarded with a powerful aroma of wood roasted chicken coming from Pollo Ala Brasa. This aroma lingered with me even after I walked past the restaurant and as the days passed I felt more of a need to try this restaurant out until one day I finally did.
Before you even enter the restaurant, there is this massive pile of wood on the side of building that catches the eye. Yet, once you walk through the doors, this is not the case. The interior is dull and unremarkable. You walk inside and immediately you are faced with the cashier. Off to the left is a small eating area. There are small booklets consisting of the short menu and higher up on the wall, a couple of the main dishes you can order are pictured. If the smell is what drew me in, the dismal, in your face interior almost chased me away.
I chose to order a half chicken plate over the steak. It came with coleslaw and beans as sides in addition to a few tortillas, all coming up to a little over nine dollars. In terms of quantity, this meal was definitely worth the price and I wouldn’t complain at all about how there wasn’t enough food. However, as you can see from the pictures, the wood grilled chicken is the equivalent to a twenty dollar bill found beneath a sea of pennies:
The chicken tasted as great as it looked. The meat fell easily off the bone and was plenty flavorful without the skin. The skin was just a nice addition. I wish I could praise the beans and coleslaw as well, but they both were pretty watered down and served nothing more, but to mirror the depressing décor of the restaurant’s interior. When I tried to put everything together inside the tortilla to try to balance out the flavors a little bit, the combination barely did anything. The chicken continued to power through like a champ, but the coleslaw and beans were basically bland and did nothing to compliment it. Here’s another picture. I apologize for the blurriness:
In the end, the chicken was amazing and I imagine the steak would have been great too. I would definitely say if you are in the area, come and try out either. Don’t order the sides. Save on the money and disappointment. Just get the tortillas and some kind of salsa and you’re set. If you want to take it home and enjoy it with friends or family, make some sides, then buy the chicken and/or steak. Seriously, Pollo Ala Brasa needs to bring the quality up the rest of the menu so they can have a more balanced menu. If I was just rating the chicken by itself, I would give 3.5 squares, possibly even 4, but sadly, that is not the case.
Rating: 2.5/5 Squares