One of the dishes Bacolod and Iloilo are most known for is chicken inasal. In Bacolod City, there’s even a market dedicated to the dish, called Manokan Country, where there are rows of restaurants that serve the iconic grilled chicken dish.
What makes inasal special compared to other grilled meats is how the chicken is marinated, grilled, and basted. Each restaurant has its own recipe to make delicious chicken inasal, and even the province it comes from has its subtle differences. Bacolod inasal is said to have a slightly sour base when it comes to flavor, while inasal from Iloilo is sweeter.
Nothing quite beats eating inasal right at their place of origin in Visayas, but there are several inasal restaurants all over Manila now that serve the grilled chicken dish with just as much care and packed with just as much flavor.
If the inasal craving hits (and a flight to Visayas is just not possible), here are four spots in Manila you can visit.
Manam’s Mama Nams
832A Arnaiz Ave., Brgy. San Lorenzo, Makati
10 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily
Manam’s ihawan concept, Mama Nams, makes inasal an option not just for chicken, but for various other meats as well. Here, you can also order bangus, pork belly, and barbecue skewers cooked the inasal way. Whichever part or meat you order, it comes with a mound of rice (your choice of plain, garlic, or java), atsara, and a refillable bowl of kansi broth on the side.
You can also enjoy your inasal paired with local craft beer or (surprise) some natural wine.
LGF Makati Central Square, Makati
An icon from Bacolod’s Manokan Country, Aida’s Chicken at Makati Central Square has been a trusted and beloved go-to for inasal for the longest time. There are no gimmicks, no frills at this restaurant—just the good, juicy-even-after-being-grilled chicken inasal.
Where the original Bacolod branch is festive with its masskara decor, the Makati branch is filled with an eclectic mix of artwork all over the walls.
Itadaki Food Hall, B1, Mitsukoshi Mall, BGC
Closed Mondays, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays
This pandemic-born inasal concept sets itself apart from others by offering inasal in unique ways. While normally chicken inasal is served as a dish for one, at Manila Inasal, you can order it whole, or even in bilao form, making it perfect to share with family or at parties.
While traditionally, inasal is best enjoyed dipped in a sauce mix of vinegar, soy sauce, and calamansi, Manila Inasal serves their grilled chicken with a special inasal sauce and green chili sauce. Each serving also comes with ensaladang talong. The impressive inasal platter, meanwhile, comes with chicken, tuna, bangus, and pork belly inasal alongside a generous serving of garlic rice, topped with tortang talong.
Manila Inasal is also unique in that it’s located in the Japanese mall franchise, Mitsukoshi, in BGC. And recently, they also opened a branch in Los Angeles.
Bacolod Chicken Parilla
93 Sct. Reyes cor. Sct. Gandia, Quezon City
11a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily
Up north in Quezon City is another straightforward inasal restaurant in the form of Bacolod Chicken Parilla. Here, you can enjoy the best, true experience of inasal, because you can see them grilling your orders right up front.
They have most of the inasal and ihawan staples, but one of their unique offerings is the inasal pakpak. A single order features a skewer of three chicken wings, basted and grilled with inasal marinade.
For the best experience, dine al fresco. Grab a cold beer while you’re at it, too.