Nando's Peri Peri Chicken
It is a bit uncharacteristic of me to be in another country and yet go eat at an international chain restaurant rather than something local off the street. Moreover, this was a chain restaurant that I'd been to in Penang ages ago, so it wasn't like it was anything I hadn't tried before. But after noticing so many Nando's stores in London a couple of months ago (yet not wanting to spend any precious time at a chain restaurant then either), I couldn't stop thinking about trying it again. There aren't any outlets of this spicy chicken chain in Singapore, so I was sure to come get some when I was up here in Malaysia.
This is a South African restaurant whose Portuguese founders created a chicken dish that centered around the "peri-peri" African birds-eye chili pepper. Specify the degree of spiciness that you want, and your bird comes out slathered in the appropriate sauce. I opted for the "Hot" version, which turned out to be respectably spicy enough for me to try stepping up to some of the spiciest "Extra Hot" sauce on the side. I couldn't quite detect the difference in heat between the two, but the sourness of the lemon juice did come across much more prominently to me when I dipped directly into the sauce. All of this time, the flame-grilled aroma of this surprisingly moist bird still came through.
Now, one could argue that the flavors here are a bit too in-your-face and could use a bit more refinement. But my belly was warm enough after the meal that I still enjoyed it - more than that "Portuguese" chicken sold at that Charco's stall at Singapore's Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5. I can see why this Nando's place is so addictive now. I sure hope that someone opens one in Singapore soon.