Hahaha. I was determined to get a taste of Sr. Pedroâ€™s lechon manok on my recent trip to Cebu City. I was always surprised to see a lengthy line snaking down the sidewalk at a Sr. Pedro outlet on Gorordo Avenue on previous visits to the city. And ever since this brand of roasted chicken was mentioned by tulip in a thread on my post on Maxâ€™s Fried Chicken a few weeks ago, I have been extremely curious about the taste of this chickenâ€¦ And one of the earliest branches of this chain of roadside roasters was a stoneâ€™s throw from my office in Cebu, so I asked someone to mosey on over and buy six chickens for take-away, timed to arrive at the office at about 11:45 am. When we opened the styrofoam containers, I must say I was immediately impressed by the aroma that was released. It certainly smelled delicious, but then again roast chicken almost always smells good. Several minutes steaming inside the containers didnâ€™t do much for the chickenâ€™s skin, which started to wrinkle fairly fast but that was understandableâ€¦ Nevertheless, the roasted chicken LOOKED like a roasted chicken, with a deep burnished tan and almost black but not scorched skin in some places. It wasn’t pretty, but it had verve, if you get my drift.
Before cutting the small chickens, we decided that the average size of the chicken must be just under a kilo in pre-cooked weight. It was rather small, but at PHP130 a piece, INCREDIBLY GOOD VALUE. I could see cutting a bird in two and serving it on a platter with rice and some veggies and the entire meal would cost less than PHP100 per personâ€¦now thatâ€™s a deal if you ask me! Less than the cost of one Big Mac! As for the taste, I was stunned to say the least. The meat was tender and moist, yet incredibly flavorful. I donâ€™t know what they do to the chicken (inject it with marinade? marinate it overnight or longer? use native chickens? Baste it frequently while roasting? Slow roast it over lower heat? Etc.) but it was good. Very good. In fact, all of the folks in the office that tasted it agreed it was a keeper. Please donâ€™t write in to tell me they rub it with some concoction that is mainly ajinomoto or other such ingredientâ€¦let me just enjoy it without knowing what the sordid secret is!
I did explore the cavity of the chicken in detail to satisfy my curiosity. Stuffed inside the chicken was a small bundle of lemongrass or tanglad, and one small bundle of green onions. That seemed like a simple stuffing but it was fragrant and delicious. I suspect the marinade and basting mixture has more sugar than I would normally use along with soy sauce and possibly kalamansi or vinegar and ground black pepper. Also interesting was their accompanying sawsawan of toyo, suka and siling labuyo with sliced kalamansi…so Cebuano, and so yummy…excellent with the flavorful meat. Sr. Pedro seems to have several branches in Manila, and I hope the quality of their roasted chicken is similar throughout their branch network. The next time you happen to be near a branch, give it a try…I was certainly pleased with birds!