My Lunch @ Limon Rotisserie, Mission District, San Francisco

Fit for a king: Chicharron de Pollo @ Limon Rotisserie.

I first visited Limon Rotisserie a few years ago, shortly after the restaurant had opened (back then, Limon Rotisserie was the new spin-off of Limon, San Francisco’s wildly popular Peruvian restaurant, also located within the Mission District). I ordered the ceviche de pescado and the chicharron de pollo; the former dish was awfully good, but the latter dish marked a small revelation. Who knew that fried chicken could take such exotic directions, but still maintain its inherent deliciousness? Pictured above, the chicharron de pollo offers exactly what its name suggests: Chicken that has been deep-fried into oblivion, in the method of the more well-known chicharrones de puerco (pork), or what Elvis might’ve called cracklins.

To criticize the chicharron de pollo for being over-cooked is to miss the point entirely. The chicken, which is boneless, skinless, and all dark meat (as far as I can tell), trades a decent portion of its succulence for a prodigious amount of Maillard-driven flavor. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys eating the half-popped kernels in a left-over bowl of popcorn, this dish deserves your attention. But really, there’s more to the chicharron de pollo than its crispy, mahogany exterior; the bird has also been marinated in soy sauce, perhaps not what you’d expect from Peruvian cuisine, but soy sauce now has more than 150 years of history in Peru, having first arrived with the (indentured) Chinese railroad workers in 1849. The soy-sauce flavor of the chicken, combined with the lemon-juice dipping sauce, is reminiscent of Japanese ponzu. I find it addictive.

• • •

The beef short rib, pictured below, is my early highlight of 2011. The broth is rich and intense, and according to the menu, the sauce is accented with huacatay and cilantro. The herbaceous element is subtle within the dish, however, making this seco de castillos any easy substitute for classic American comfort food. With a side of white rice, there may be nothing better in winter.

Looks great, tastes even better: Seco de Costillas @ Limon Rotisserie.

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