Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dino's Chicken & Burgers

After reading Jonathan Gold's LA Weekly review about Dino's in LA, the chicken mentioned in the article piqued my interest. When I heard that Dino's was opening a second restaurant in Azusa, which is practically around the corner from me, I booked on over the first chance I got to see what this chicken was really all about.

When I walked into the place, which formerly was Ted's Gourmet Fast Food, the chicken wasn't even on the menu yet. I had to ask the counter person specifically about how I could order Dino's chicken and of course, she helped me out. For my order, I got the half chicken which came with french fries, tortillas and coleslaw. I opted for a to go order.

When my order was done, I walked out, got into my car and sped home. What I found interesting was that even though the chicken was in a closed container inside a plastic bag, there were these pleasing, albeit faint, smells emanating from inside the bag that were tantalizing my nose. Something so mouth-watering that I stepped on the gas even harder.

Once I got home, I plunked my bag on my kitchen counter, opened it up, opened up the container and wow, I was assailed with these strong, pungent smells that made me dizzy with anticipation. Than I looked down at the chicken and gloried in its flesh and skin reddened by the chili and spices used to marinate it in. The french fries, also red-orange, and drenched with the sauce and juices from the chicken also commanded attention. When you look at the chicken close-up, you can see how the spices and pieces of red chili adhered to the meat. Now this was serious stuff.

For a minute, I just stood there and stared, taking in the whole sensory experience of the sight and smell before me. Soon, hunger called and I picked up a piece of chicken and took a bite. One bite was an explosion of flavor of pepper, lemon, chili and a host of other spices. It was amazing. I didn't feel the heat right away but after taking a few more bites, I could feel a litte bit of fire at the back of my throat and it was a fire I welcomed and enjoyed. Eating the french fries, soaked in the fiery sauce, also added a little more fuel to this fire.

This truly was the most amazing chicken dish I ever had. I have no clue what kind of marinade was used, but the various layers and melding of flavors really made this chicken sing. Eating Dino's chicken is akin to a mariachi band for me. Both are colorful. Both are "loud." While one can be loud in regards to the music, the other is loud in regards to flavor. With one note or with one bite, both can get immediate attention.

Having this chicken so close to home is one of the best things of the New Year so far. Perhaps 2007 will hold even more culinary prizes as well. I'm certainly hoping for that to be the case.

To see pics, go to:

Dino's Chicken and Burgers
843 Arrow Hwy
Azusa, CA 91702

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