The Chicken Bowl isn’t just a party. It’s an event.
Few things can coerce me to leave the District for an evening, but I would gladly travel many many miles for the annual Chicken Bowl experience. (Considering that guests came from as far as San Francisco - holler Ex-Co-Worker Megan! - I’m clearly not the only person willing to put in serious effort to be a part of the chicken-y awesomeness).
This was my second Chicken Bowl experience, and the third year of the event. (Last year's post here.)
A quick history (from the invitation): the Northern Virginia Chicken Bowl concept came to be waaay back in January, 2009. A few friends were arguing about who had the best Peruvian chicken in the area and soon thereafter a decision was made: the only way to know the truth was to hold a blind taste test.
The NoVA Chicken Bowl was born.
The rules are simple: Entrants are rotisserie-style Latin American chicken from Northern Virginia (NoVA). Sauces (green and yellow) “are not used for voting. They will, however, be used for mass gorging of chicken after the contest.” Chain restaurants are not allowed.
Every guest gets 2 tickets to vote for their favorites – the party takes place in two awesome peoples’ backyard – starts at 6 pm, votes are tallied at 11.
“The first two Bowls have been wildly successful, with two relative unknowns - Super Chicken and Super Pollo-Alexandria - winning the first two golden bowls. Who will take home the trophy this year? Will El Pollo Rico - the popular pick among area newspapers and cronies - ever win? Can Crisp and Juicy live up to its name? Is there a dark horse waiting to steal the crown again? There's only one way to find out cluckers - a blind taste test of the top six rotisserie chicken joints in northern Virginia based on Yelp, Zagat, and other respected recommendations.”
In my humble opinion, the secret to fair voting is to eat a lot of chicken. It’s important to have a few (ahem, or many) bites of each contestant. Compare dark and white meats and get a good assessment of how good each chicken is.
The weather this year was perfect - we dined in the glow of mosquito-repellent tiki torches perched on beach towel-covered hay bales. Hosts Dianne, Jeff, and Scott (the perfect combination of crazy/ambitious/awesome – you’ve gotta be to host a party like this!) set up tents, tables, and chairs in their backyard with rubber chickens strategically placed everywhere, in case anyone forgets what this party is about.There was also a video of rotisserie chicken playing on loop in their living room...literally, just chicken turning and roasting on film...that's a very special degree of dedication!
Peruvian chicken comes with the aforementioned green and yellow sauces (yummm - the green is cilantro based, and the yellow is some combination of chilies, mayonnaise, garlic, and vinegar) as well as beans and rice and French fries and plantains. Basically a whole lot of food.
Chicken Bowl “staff” (so designated by their Chicken Bowl t-shirts) “pick” the chicken before the party starts. They pull all the meat off the bones, making it easier for everyone to eat and judge all night.
- Super Chicken (Falls Church) won its 2nd Bowl after a 1-year hiatus with 52 votes.
- El Pollo Rico (Arlington) placed second for the 2nd consecutive year with 40 votes.
- Crisp and Juicy (Arlington), despite its amazing orange spicy sauce, came in with a mild showing of 29 votes.
- Newcomer Su Pollo (Alexandria) made a respectable debut with 26 votes.
- Super Pollo (Alexandria), was the 2010 Chicken Bowl Champion, but made a weak attempt at consecutive Bowls with 21 votes.
- Newcomer Mi Rico Peru (Alexandria) embarrassed itself and should no longer sell chicken after finishing with 5 votes.
Many other things happened this weekend (Jazz in the Sculpture Garden, an early morning 10-miler, etc.), but clearly the Chicken Bowl was the highlight.
So to quote the hosts, Until next time, BaKoK!