Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4), we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
94: Peruvian Chicken at Pollo a la Brasa.
The Peruvian chicken joint on Western called Pollo a la Brasa -- which is the same name as the rotisserie chicken dish itself -- has long been one of L.A.'s foodist landmarks. The stacks of wood piled outside the triangular concrete island in Koreatown like an urban fairytale woodcutter's shack. The heady smells of wood smoke and roasting meat and spice like a sudden culinary oasis in the middle of laundromats and convenience stores and Korean underwear shops. People rightly pilgrimage there, locating the place by wood and perfume -- and the sign, in which "Western" is spelled backwards, as if Hans Christian Andersen (or maybe Wes Anderson) was actually running the show.
This won't change much when the business moves next door in a few months. The wood will be restacked against a different, larger wall; the sign will be bigger, the lettering still reversed. And the glorious roasted chickens? The same, for which we are indescribably grateful.
Order a whole chicken -- you can order half a bird too, but you'll deeply regret any restraint later -- and it will soon be presented to you upon a paper plate, crammed with fantastic, thick-cut french fries and a salad, and with little paper cups of salad dressing and lime green aji sauce on the side. It is this aji sauce that you want, with a few warm tortillas. Pull the chicken, the skin burnished and crisped, painted with garlic and pepper and fraught with wood smoke, into bits and roll them up in the tortillas. Do not spare the chile-built sauce; if necessary, they will give you a giant squeeze bottle of the stuff. Just remember that they will want it back.
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