Jurisdiction: (Portugese) Charcoal Chicken.
Outcome: Unanimous Verdict.
Ratio decidendi: One thing needs to be made clear – leave your ego at the door, you’re here for…
Salient features: …Portugese Charcoal Chicken ($20 for whole)
Scope of discovery: bacalhau e casa ($26), coleslaw
Case note: I think it’s important to firstly note the reputation that Frango has for not being the most welcoming establishment on New Canterbury Rd. On my visit I didn’t experience anything of that sort but my high school mate wisely warned me beforehand so I will pass on the same. For some, bad service is a complete turn-off but when it comes to establishments such as this – I oddly find myself quite excited because rudeness often correlates strongly with amazing food in my experience.
In the end the fears were unfounded as we did not incur the wrath of Petersham’s ‘chicken nazi’ but were still rewarded with the best charcoal chicken I’ve had in Sydney. The distinguishing feature for me is that they really know how to cook chicken well. The meat is still moist, tender and succulent – something I’m not sure I can say for El Jannah. Well seasoned and imbued with a beautiful smoky aroma – it only gets better when you add the house chilli sauce.
On our visit we also tried the bacalhau e casa which is a grilled fish served with batatas fritas (fried sliced potatoes). Some might say the fish is overcooked (by Australian kitchen) standards, but I enjoyed it nonetheless – crispy outer layer, with a simple garlic and parsley sauce was tasty and well received by the table. Would I rather order another whole chicken instead though? Probably.
It’s worth trying a Sumol – a fruit-flavoured fizzy drink. Eagle-eyed diners will note locals order the maracuja (passionfruit) flavour, and with good reason too!
Obiter dicta: According to my high school mate who’s a Frango-regular, there doesn’t appear to be a discernible trait which is more likely to attract the wrath of the owners. They almost seem to arbitrarily favour some diners but not others. While such a thing may sound incredulous to Australians, it’s a concept that Malaysian’s will quickly explain away as “face problem”. It’s a term commonly used in a joking manner to explain why one has suffered from some sort of misfortune that others in the same party avoided e.g.
JP: mannnn, why is my ice-cream scoop like half the size of everyone elses?!
BT: well…we all got served by the same person so you know there’s only one explanation.
JP: face problem?
Also, if you’re visiting during the day and after the best portugese tarts in sydney you might want to check out Sweet Belem on the opposite side of New Canterbury Road.