Bacolod City's famous chicken dish inasal (barbecued chicken) has spread far and wide across the globe reaching not just the United States of America but also the Middle East. Unknown to many is the fact long before it reached foreign shores, inasal's humble beginnings are traced back to a small street in Bacolod known as Cuadra.
Before the legendary Manokan Country of Bacolod found its way on the culinary map, there was a series of small stalls along Cuadra Street, near Bacolod's public plaza which earned the name as Chicken Alley. This was started by the Velez sisters, Elisa Velez-Garrucho and her sister Nena, and the other Velez siblings.
Given its proximity to the public plaza and because it was near jeepney stops, people flocked to the area to buy the barbecued chicken we now know as Bacolod chicken inasal. One has to be reminded that back in the days of the 70s, the tasty dish we know of today was simply "inasal". "Bacolod chicken inasal" as used in one phrase was still a long way off.
As its popularity grew, inasal found a new home in Bacolod's reclamation area which is known today as Manokan County (translated as Chicken Country). Soon, the people of Bacolod started flocking to the stalls of Manokan Country which now offered seating to the diners. As Manokan Country got too crowded, Elisa Velez-Garrucho decided to get out of Manokan Country and put up Chicken House in San Sebastian Street, near the Garrucho residence. Eliza's sister, Nena, also followed soon.
Vincent V. Garrucho, one of Eliza's sons relates, "My brother Jomi Garrucho and myself, as well as my sisters, were trained since grade school to know the recipe by heart. Honestly, we can do the ORIGINAL INASAL with our eyes closed. Almost everyday, our packed lunch to school was... FRIED chicken inasal. People haven't tried that yet." Vincent adds, "Me and my siblings as kids were trained to make the mix every morning before going to school and cook and serve in our resto after school."
Eliza Velez Garrucho is credited to have contributed greatly to making inasal the mainstream dish it is known today after exiting Manokan Country and starting the famous Bacolod Chicken House. Eliza V. Garrucho sold Chicken House to the Cajili family in 1976 and the rest is history as the new owners have taken Chicken House and its distinct taste to inasal lovers like us.
Chicken House in Metro Manila is located in Makati along Chino Roces Ave., fronting Makati (Cinema) Square.
The writer, Lloyd Tronco, is from Bacolod, a chicken inasal lover and addict who always eats inasal with garlic rice and a stick of baticolon (chicken gizzard).
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