Friday, January 8, 2010

Chick'n Pollo -- First Thoughts On Opening Night

I hope that Chick'n Pollo in Columbia is always successful, but I hope it is never as busy as it was Thursday night.

The Peruvian chicken restaurant in the Hickory Ridge Village Center opened to a packed house last night.  Tasked with bringing home dinner, I thought I was being clever to stop there.  But I ended up spending 45 minutes in line and waiting for my meal.  The aroma kept me in line.  Chick'n Pollo smelled delicious, and that seemed to keep the crowd patient and happy.

The chicken was delicious.  There are real fanatics for this Peruvian roasted bird, and I don't claim enough expertise to join the Chowhound debates -- like this one about El Pollo Kiki Riki in Wheaton.  But the Chick'n Pollo bird was bigger and tasted better than the supermarket rotisserie chickens, which I have recently taken up as convenience food.

My meal was moist and had a seasoned flavor that steps up from the supermarket.  There are just a few pieces of skin, crispy and delicious even though you know it's bad for you.  I also love the side sauces -- a green spicy one and a yellow creamy one that still offers real flavor.  A half-chicken is perfect for our dinner because we're a Sprat family -- one loves white meat, one is quite happy with a wing and drumstick.  A full chicken would fill some brown bag lunches.

But I also hope that the food will improve a bit as Chick'n Pollo settles into a normal groove.  The side dishes -- although fried perfectly to crisp, but oily -- are expensive.  ($3.50 for beans and rice?)  The yuca was really dry when we got it home, and the plantains weren't right.  Too starchy.   Not sweet enough.  That might be a style issue, but my favorite plantains are always soft and sweet.  These might not have been ripe enough yet.  (The HowChow tip:  Call ahead and have someone turn your home oven to 400 while you're at Chick'n Pollo.  Yucca fries cool as you carry them home.  A few minutes in a hot oven make them fresh and crisp again.  Our leftovers were actually better for lunch today because they were hot )

This looks like a great addition.  I'd go just for the chicken, but they have some burritos that I have to try -- burritos . . . in a Peruvian place . . . that claim to use Thai green or red curry sauce.  I love America.

If you want to compare the local Peruvian chickens, you can test Chick'n Pollo against Pollo Fuego in Jessup. Or check out the great fried chicken at Chick N' Friends in the Long Reach Village Center in Columbia.

Chick'n Pollo
6470 Freetown Road
Columbia, MD 21044-4016
(410) 531-8689

NEAR:  This is in the back side of the Hickory Ridge Village Center.  It is off Cedar Lane north of Rte 32.  You can park around back, or you can park near the Giant and walk through the center.  Very convenient.
de Chick'n Pollo on Urbanspoon


Penny said...

I had a delicious lunch at Chick'n Pollo Thursday afternoon. I happened to be shopping at Giant, and saw that it was open. I had the rice and beans side, thought it was all delicious. If you get there around 1:30, you get served in minutes.

When my boyfriend got home, I told him about it and he was so excited we went back for dinner. I was going to get the burrito and he was going to get the chicken with some fried rice, but the line was too long so we gave up. We'll be back maybe this weekend, sometime in the afternoon when hopefully the lines aren't long.

Caederus said...

YES! Finally! I have been waiting since I became hooked on Crisp & Juicy in Rockville.

CHAN said...

Finally a good taste of Peruvian chicken in Howard County, let me tell something about this place,since you getting inside you can see the cleanness is A+, the employees are friendly and ready to serve but the most important the chicken( I was early just about the doors open)well mariner, cooked in charcoal the result the best "Pollo a la Brasa"(that's the name in Spanish)in the area(Montgomery Co,Howard Co)I been in almost Peruvian chicken restaurant and this will be my favorite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But don't trust my words go and try yourself.

inagada.davita said...

I haven't had good Peruvian chicken since Pollo Rico when I worked around Clarendon. I'm almost afraid to try either Chick'n Pollo or Pollo Fuego for fear of disappointment. Pollo Rico used to be located in a ratty old retail space with a wood-fired rotisserie. A quarter chicken and fries with that fresh jalapeno sauce was $3.25 back in the late 90's.

Kid Bro Sweetz said...

Tried it out for the first time Saturday night. Place was empty except for two other customers getting some take out. The aroma was outstanding. Place was clean as could be and the food was excellent. I got a chance to speak with the owners who were thrilled to see a steady trickle of customers drop by on a cold Saturday evening. Sides are a little too expensive and a little too small for my taste (had the beans/rice and the plantains). Overall, the sides were tasty, but small compared to what you get at Pollo Rico or the Don Pollo in Twinbrook.

And yes, of course, the chicken: It was outstanding. Not at all overseasoned, crispy in some parts and extremely flavorful without feeling like you're pigging out. The sauces add a great kick.

I will be going back soon, for sure. :thumbsup

Morty Abzug said...

The wife and I stopped by on Saturday night for take-out, although we ended up eating in. There was no line, and the food was ready in minutes. The wife loved her chicken. My carne asada burrito was tasty.

They said that their official closing time was 8pm, but that they already expected to have to change the closing time to be later.

The food was somewhat similar to Chicken Rico in Greenbelt, as to be expected.

Sofia said...

I went Saturday night around 8pm... there was no line and there was a table full of people but I think they were all linked to the restaurant someway or another because they all kept on walking into the food area and hugging people! Made me want a hug too!! I got a half chicken with fries and yucca (aka cassava). I had to pay an extra $1 since I ordered two starches. I also picked up 4 alfajores which are these delicious shortbread-style cookies with dulce de leche in between. They are a little expensive ($1.95 each) but WORTH the $$. We started devouring our meal once we got home. It was very good and up to par with my expectation of good "Peruvian or pollo a la braza" chicken that I have come to love. My only suggestion would be for them to "tweek" and improve their cream-colored sauce. The green sauce was spot-on with heat but the cream-colored sauce was like dipping into mayo... it lacks something!

But overall, the chicken is done RIGHT and Im glad they are finally open!

steinre1 said...

We got carry out on opening night. The wait was quite long - about 40 minutes, but I'm sure that won't be typical. All in all, we thought it was a solid peruvian chicken joint - not spectacular. I really think what seperates the great ones is the type and amount of marinade used. All of them seem to do a good job with the seasoning on the skin, but the flavor of the chicken all the way down to the center is the key for me. Crisp and Juicy (at least in Leisure World in SS) does an excellent job of that. I also prefer the orange hot sauce of C&J, but that is more of a personal preference. I thought the rice and beans were very good, but the yuca seemed undercooked. But I'm willing the chalk up the undercooked yuca to the craziness of opening night. All in all, it was a pretty good experience and it certainly is nice to have at least a decent option for per. chicken in this part of HoCo.

K8teebug said...

We went on sunday. The chicken was great, and I thought the rice was outstanding. Perfectly cooked! I would encourage anyone going there to also try the sushi restaurant in the same village center. Good sushi and reasonably priced, and the owners couldn't be nicer.

Anonymous said...

Chick'n Pollo is the best chicken I have eaten in Montgomery/Howard County! The chicken was just right and the sides were excellent. The owners are also very polite and the restaurant is very clean. If you haven't tried good chicken, you should definitely come here.

dzoey said...

The kids and I tried Chick'n'Pollo for dinner tonight. The kids split the big combo platter (1/4 chicken (white), steak, chorizo, 3 sides (fries, yucca fries, fried rice - my kids like starch). I had a salad and a Thai-style chicken burrito.

The steak was the favorite - The seasoning went really well with the meat, and the kids didn't mind the toughness of the cut. The kids split on the yucca fries and fried rice. I liked both, at least while they were hot. The chicken skin was good, but the meat was dry, though that's to be expected with white meat.

The Thai-style burrito was surprisingly good. It's like a regular chicken burrito but instead of the usual seasoning, there's a coconut-milk based seasoning. The only drawback was they did a bad job of shredding the chicken and my mouth was poked with sharp bone fragments a couple of times (the owner provided a flan as an apology and sent out the staffer who had prepared the chicken to apologize in person). The salad had an interesting dressing, but by dinner time the greens in the pre-made container were starting to wilt. It would have been worth $2, but the house salad is $4.

I would not mind returning but would not make a special trip, and Hickory Ridge has a lot of good restaurants, so it's going to be tough for Chick'n'Pollo to stand out.

The Greatest Thing About Today said...

Being a regular at places like Crisp and Juicy and El Pollo Rico in Arlington, I was very disappointed in the chicken at Chick n Pollo. The dark meat was dry and the breast meat was even drier. I've had better rotisserie chicken from BJs. I do hope this place improves since the other Peruvian chicken place in the area, Pollo Fuego, is also very disappointing.

Anonymous said...

I had a delicious lunch over the weekend. I enjoyed the hospitality and the environment. I can say the Chicken was delicious especially the white meat because it was juicy and hot.

A Grigg said...

Yes... Finally De Chick'n Pollo is open. You can smell the delicious charbroiled chicken all over the Hickory Ridge Vil. Center. We stopped by and ordered the FAMILY PLATTER -- 2 chicken, 4 big portion side orders of Rice&Bean, Cassava, Plantain and Peruvian Fried Rice-- along with 4 cans of Inca Kola). The chicken were outstanding, moist, tender and flavorful... the plantain was great... so sweet and not oily at all. The rice and bean was perfect... and check out the Peruvian Fried Rice... love it... With the price of $25 for this combo, it was a perfect meal for our family. And as others mentioned about the service, it was two thumbs up plus the place is sooooo clean. We'll absolutely be back anytime soon.

LexC said...

I just went for the first time tonight. We got 2 platters to share between two adults and two kids, and it was more than enough food! The chicken tasted wonderful, and both the white and dark meat were juicy. The plantains had a nice taste, but were a little greasy. The cassava was good after I put it in the oven to warm it up. The Peruvian fried rice had a nice taste. The french fries weren't anything special, and the rice and beans were just that...nothing else.

It was capped off, though,by the caramel cookies. I think I could eat all in the holder and still want more. Definitely worth the money. The food was inhaled by my picky 2 and 4 year olds, which means this is a new goto place for carry out.

Randy said...

This place was a fairly regular place that my wife and I would go to. Up until a couple weeks ago. On my way home from work, I tried to phone in an order for pick-up. Unfortunately, the phone just kept ringing. My wife swung by a little later, and the lights were out. We tried a week later again, and no luck. We are now greatly mourning the loss of this place.

Not only was their Peruvian chicken fabulous, I was a huge fan of their Thai Fusion Burritos. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and there was a local chain I loved called World Wraps, where you could get a melding of different world cuisines wrapped in a burrito. De Chick'n Pollo's fusion burritos were the one place where I got a taste of my hometown. Anybody know where I can find this here in Howard County?