My mission was to hit three straight Peruvian chicken spots in the Valley with a friend and report about their relative strengths and weaknesses, factoring in flavor, skin crispness and white meat juiciness. This was supposed to be a round-up, but Bonano’s Chicken absolutely buried the competition on every level, which is why Dante and Janet Balarezo’s six-year-old restaurant gets the sole spotlight.
My half-chicken with two sides ($8.99) was nearly flawless, with addictive caramelized skin and smoky flavor that permeated every morsel of the juicy bird. The thoroughly juicy meat was pink, but don’t fear; that’s the result of a thorough hazelnut wood buffeting in the rotisserie. The accompanying rice and beans were also stellar, moist and judiciously flavored with garlic.
Janet Balarezo wouldn’t reveal the marinade, and she was equally coy about her aji, the spicy Peruvian chile sauce that’s stained green with huacatay – black mint. This was probably the best aji I’ve had – course and noticeably flecked with bits of mint.
Bonano’s colorfully tiled rotisserie oven is prominently showcased behind the counter.