Peruvian-ish Chicken at Pollo Loko

pollolokoIf the phrase “pollo a la brasa” ever surfaced in a word association game, I’d probably say “garlic. Or “green sauce.”

Invented more than a half-century ago by a Swiss immigrant living in Lima, pollo a la brasa is a juicy coal-roasted chicken with crackly skin. La Granja Azul, the birthplace of the dish, was a supremely glamorous restaurant at which waiters delivered platefuls of chicken until diners begged them to stop (which sounds something like eating oysters at Bowen’s.) But casual chicken joints, or pollerias, are now the norm in Peru and major American cities.

According to Yelp, North Charleston has its own polleria: Pollo Loko Peruvian Cuisine on Dorchester Road specializes in chicken. Yet when I ordered a one-quarter bird portion on a recent visit to the restaurant,  the chicken I received was lacking all of the classic a la brasa hallmarks. Its seasoning wasn’t dominated by garlic, and there weren’t any sauces served with it. Stranger still, it was accompanied by rice, beans and shredded cabbage, rather than the traditional French fries. Continue reading