The Golden Chicken unwittingly got under my skin before I ever crossed the threshold. A sign in the left window irked me. I typically grow irritated when restaurants boast being the best at something; I prefer to be the judge of that. But I have to give credit where credit is due: The Golden Chicken really does serve the best rotisserie chicken I’ve ever tasted.
Tucked away in University Landing on College Road (where Krazy Pizza used to be eons ago), The Golden Chicken offers Peruvian fare in an informal dining-room setting. The average diner should find the menu both innovative and approachable.
First, to that delicious roasted chicken: The crisp, peppery skin offered a great juxtaposition with the juiciest, most tender meat I’ve ever tried. I purposefully chose the half chicken plate so that I might sample both white and dark meat. I was not disappointed in either. Each morsel proved moist, flavorful and hot. I never figured out the secret. For the life of me, I have no idea how poultry held heat like that. But after 20 minutes there was still steam coming off of each forkful. With a side of roasted plantains, the blend of flavors maximized my tastebuds.
I moved on to the Jumping Cow, a signature Peruvian dish with some Asian influence. Strips of beef marinated in vinegar and soy sauce give it a rich salty taste. The plate will send Adkins dieters running from the room, as it is served with both white rice and french fries. But the rice is a welcome addition when trying to get as much of the meaty brown gravy. Onions and tomatoes round out the dish, giving it some textural variation and some flavorful bite.
As an aside, I’d like to comment on foodie culture here. I rarely look at Yelp, but by happenstance I did while surfing online for the address of the restaurant. A common complaint amongst the posters is that dishes like Jumping Cow are not called by their Spanish names (lomo saltado, in this case). I don’t share this concern. Menu designations don’t change spice profiles, cooking times or ingredient quality; simply put, the dish tastes the same no matter what you call it.
Peru, like many cultures, has its own take on ceviche. The Golden Chicken offers three variations. I opted for the most straight-forward—one made strictly from white fish. Peruvian ceviche is known for being heavier on the lemon juice than many other styles and that was certainly on display here. The citrus flavors were potent, but they were not dominant. The ceviche is flavored with Peruvian rocoto chilies. A tasty but powerful spice, the rocoto will have you looking for something sweet to counteract the heat. I ordered mine medium, and I felt my gums numb more than once. Delicious, to be sure, but it’s spicy nonetheless. The boiled potatoes, both white and sweet, made a nice counterpoint to the fiery white fish.
A genuine Peruvian experience, also comes with the restaurant’s signature drinks. The maracuya, a thick passion-fruit juice, was not only delicious but provided the sugar needed to balance the spicier ceviche.
The chicha morada tasted a bit stranger. Made from Peruvian blue corn, boiled with cinnamon and nutmeg, it’s served over ice. The chicha morada is not quite like anything else I’ve had around here. It’s dark purple, reminiscent of the richest Australian shiraz. While quite tasty, the cinnamon and nutmeg seem out of place in 90-degree heat. The flavor profile would be better suited for Thanksgiving than Independence Day. I highly recommend it; but stick with the maracuya in the summer and save the chicha morada until the mercury drops a couple dozen degrees.
Stay for dessert. I wasn’t all that fond of the alfajor, a caramel sandwich made from two cakes covered in powdered sugar. The caramel was delightful, but the cakes themselves were a little drier than I prefer. But I think there’s a huge market for the picarones, fried Peruvian doughnuts, which could make even the staunchest aficionado of carnival food forget all about funnel cakes. And the tres leches, a yellow cake soaked in milk, managed to be moist without being soggy. For those who like to dip their cookies in milk, the tres leches will be an undeniable treat.
I expect The Golden Chicken will see more of me in the future. There’s a lot left for me to try, and they certainly earned my trust, which means they’ve earned my business.
The Golden Chicken
417 S. College Rd. Suite 22
Sun.- Mon. and Wed.-Thurs., 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Fri. – Sat., 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.
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