From Peru with love
Peru’s iconic rotisserie chicken finds its way to Rochester; photos by Tomas Flint
376 Jefferson Rd., Rochester
Imagine going on vacation in a country whose cuisine inspires you so much that you can’t stop thinking about it—to the point where you decide to open a restaurant that features your favorite part of it! That’s how Just Chik’n came into existence in Rochester. The owners went to Peru on a family vacation and fell in love with pollo a la brasa—Peruvian rotisserie chicken.
The original pollo a la brasa was invented by a Swiss immigrant in Peru. It was seasoned simply with just salt. The modern version is seasoned with many more spices, including aji panca (mild pepper paste) and soy sauce.
At Just Chik’n, the rotisserie chicken is marinated in a (classified) blend of spices and sauces for at least twenty-four hours and then cooked slowly in a rotisserie oven.You can order a half chicken by itself or a whole chicken with several sides for a family meal. The chicken skin is my favorite part; it is savory, salty, and satisfying.The meat is juicy from the long marination and slow cook.
Just Chik’n also makes two classic Peruvian sauces, aji verde and aji amarillo. Aji verde is traditionally made with jalapenos, cilantro, mayonnaise, and garlic. Just Chik’n keeps their aji verde mild and very bright. Their aji amarillo is a creamy sauce with a little tang that is universal hit. Personally, I suggest getting both to alternate dipping your chicken into! The mild take on aji verde makes both sauces a great choice for all palates.
An unusual side dish here is the arroz chaufa, literally translated to “Chinese rice.” (While you are trying to distract yourself from Rochester’s neverending winter, I suggest reading about Chinese immigrants in Peru and how an entirely new cuisine was born out of it called Chifa cuisine.) The version at Just Chik’n is vegetarian and subtly flavored—an excellent bite to combine with the well-seasoned pollo a la brasa. In fact, they have a dish called the Macchu Bowl that does just that: arroz chaufa topped with pulled rotisserie chicken, turtle beans, and salsa criolla. Drizzle some aji verde on top for a punch of brightness. Chipotle burrito bowl what? What if you associate with people who don’t enjoy juicy and satisfying rotisserie chicken? While I hope they don’t exist, Just Chik’n has another side of the menu dedicated to one of my go-to food groups— fried chicken.The fried chicken is available with regular and spicy breading. You can choose from chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches, and chicken tenders.
The chicken nuggets will destroy all other nuggets for you. Delectable and succulent chunks of all white meat chicken fried to perfection.What is not to love? Just Chik’n offers several familiar sauce options outside of the aji verde and aji amarillo, including buffalo, honey mustard, ranch, etc. I recommend dipping the crispy nuggets in aji verde as the citrusy notes are a natural match.
Just Chik’n also offers wraps with the juicy fried chicken or the flavorful (pulled) rotisserie chicken. Yes, they do offer meal-sized salads with the same protein choices as well. Vegetarians, there are a few options here for you. The Veggie Machu bowl, Veggie Machu wrap, and all the sides (french fries, chili lime yuca fries, chili lime sweet potato fries, side salad, arroz chaufa) are vegetarian. Last but not least, do not leave without trying the alfajore cookie. It is made in many different ways in South America. Just Chik’n has these specially made at a local bakery. The cookie is buttery and melts in your mouth. The filling is similar to dulce de leche with toasted caramely, brown-sugar-like goodness. The cookies are then dusted liberally with powdered sugar.
Pro tip: Take a box home and dip the alfajores in coffee for the perfect snack.
It is January. It is cold.The snow is relentless. Order a whole delicious rotisserie chicken and a box of alfajores for your family… of one. You deserve it. Who is going to know?