There is an ongoing battle about the definition of "Authentic Inasal," and it's getting hotter and hotter every day.

Inasal is essentially chicken barbecue. "Inasal" is a Hiligaynon term that is a direct translation of "barbecue." It may also be applied to other grilled dishes. Inasal as a dish had boomed to mainstream popularity thanks to the enterprising Mang Inasal chain of fastfood restaurants. Because Mang Inasal was acquired by Jollibee and thus expanded aggressively, it soon became a ubiquitous fastfood chain, offering an original Filipino treat.

Not everyone is happy with the newfound popularity of the Inasal, as promoted by Mang Inasal, however. The Inasal puristas and die-hards of Bacolod City in Negros Occidental are stating the case of why Mang Inasal is NOT authentic inasal.

If you ask an Authentic Inasal aficionado why Mang Inasal is NOT to be considered an authentic rendition of Inasal, the theses are numerous:

But the gist can be narrated in these terms:

Authentic Inasal has a distinct taste that comes from the marinade of coconut vinegar, calamansi juice, lemongrass, salt, pepper, garlic, ginger and onions. The taste is further enriched with a basting sauce made of annatto (achuete) oil and margarine. The chicken is then grilled to a consistency that will make its skin crispy, and yet allow the meat to maintain its juiciness. It's not too dry, and neither should it be too fatty. And its spices should be in the sauce and not tasted in the chicken itself.

Authentic Bacolod Inasal has no soy sauce in its marinade, contrary to the usual marinade used in other grilled dishes. Bacolodnons also denounce the "Spicy Inasal" offered by Mang Inasal on its menu, because, as mentioned, the spice should be savored in the dipping sauce and not on the chicken, whether it's part of the marinade or the basting. In short, the Authentic Bacolod Inasal has its distinct taste, distinguishable to the discerning Negrense palate.

That being said, if you really want to taste Bacolod's authentic Inasal, you would have to visit those establishments and districts outlined in "Authentic Chicken Inasal from Bacolod- The way it should be eaten!" and "Virtual Negrénses Talk Authentic Inasal." And if you're into experimenting in the kitchen, try your hand with these Bacolod Inasal recipes:

At the end of the day, let's face the fact that Mang Inasal is a major commercial enterprise, a fastfood for those who want their Inasal on the fly. Still, in keeping with the general definition of "Inasal," it IS a grilled dish, and would still fall into that definition. On the other hand, if gustatory experience and cultural authenticity is what you are after, then by all means, we would have to say that there's nothing like the Authentic Bacolod Inasal.