I don’t often go down into the Banda de Shilcayo district to eat. In fact, the last two times I’ve been to La Banda I’ve headed straight to one restaurant: El Norteño (Jr. Santa María N° 246, half a block from La Banda’s Plaza de Armas). The first time was by invitation. The second time was because I had to show a friend how damn good the chicken is…
It’s All Good at El Norteño
Before I launch into the chicken, let me just say a few non-chicken things. El Norteño serves a variety of dishes — including pork, beef, goat, chicken and duck — served in either Northern Peruvian or oriental style. From what I’ve sampled so far, it’s all good. The family-run restaurant is also bright, clean and friendly. Also good. You should go there tomorrow for lunch.
And now the chicken…
El Norteño’s Pollo Cantones con Arroz Chaufa
Writing about El Norteño’s phenomenal Pollo Cantones con Arroz Chaufa is like writing a love letter to a beautiful woman. As the words flow, my memory recalls — quite vividly — her tender breasts, her delectable skin, her sweet and crispy legs…
OK, so I’ve never met a woman with crispy legs, but you get the point. Cantonese chicken at El Norteño is something special.
This isn’t a standard chifa dish. The chicken, through some magical process that involves freezing, has perfectly crispy skin. That’s always a good start. Then there’s the sweet and slightly tangy sauce that coats the tender meat and forms a rich pool on your plate. Forgive me while I wax lyrical, but the whole thing is sublimely toothsome.
Add to this a side plate of special arroz chaufa. If I forced a chef to listen to me while I demanded a precise form of arroz chaufa, my commands would result in El Norteño’s version. It’s chunky but with delicate flavours; there’s lots of it — enough to share — and it’s chockfull of chicken.
(Quick tip: you may consider mixing your rice into the sauce on your chicken plate. Resist! The arroz chaufa is excellent as it is, so save the sauce for the chicken.)
To complete the holy trinity, buy a jug of fruit juice. El Norteño’s fruit juices are icy and delicious (I recommend the cocona).
In conclusion, go to El Norteño and eat yourself silly. The Pollo Cantones con Arroz Chaufa costs S/.21 (about US$7.90); other mains range from about S/.15 to S/.25. The restaurant is closed on Monday, but open every other day of the week.
If you do head down to El Norteño, feel free to write a short review in the comments section below. Cheers!
That chicken was bangin’. I think I’m still digesting that meal.
We’ll have to go there again when you come back to Tarapoto. I’d like to try a few more El Norteño dishes, but that chicken just cries out to be eaten.
Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll be sure to check it out when I return to Tarapoto
It’s well worth the short trip to La Banda. And I’d be more than happy to join you for lunch at El Norteño when you return to Tarapoto.
Tony, They should pay you for those words. It is a shame 99% of the people in Tarapoto don’t read English or you could use this for advertising! I don’t suppose you could be convinced to lead the way there when Dot and I come this September???
Really, the meal sounds wonderful! We appreciate the pains you take to lead us to the finer aspects of Tarapoto. Obviously the “pains” from this article were from a full stomach!!
It won’t be hard for you to convince me to return to El Norteño in September. Just say the word and I’ll be there.
Regarding the 99% of people in Tarapoto… I’ve been thinking about starting a second Tarapoto blog in Spanish. It would probably be photo-heavy with minimal text — I can write reasonably well in Spanish, but it takes me a while. Not enough hours in the day, but definitely something I’d like to do.
Whenever you do decide to start a Spanish blog, I would be more than happy to translate this very article into Spanish!!! 😉 A win-win situation, I believe.
I’m pretty sure a little more than one percent of Tarapotinos can read well English. Tony; I delight in your altruistic way of speech, leaving the reader bewildered due to the unique way to express good words. Give you props for your great writing, which is engaging and easily comprehendible for the public. Gotta definitely try some cantonese chicken whenever I visit my homeland. BTW Tarapoto Life should be only in English, I’m sure in spanish you won’t sound as amusing as you do in your native language LOL. God Bless you amigo!
Thanks Will! If I do start a Tarapoto blog in Spanish, I definitely won’t be attempting many (any) jokes. My Spanish is OK, but jokes are not easy in a different language… (when I try to joke with my neighbours, most of them look at me like I’m a crazy person).
That’s funny, because when I started learning english my “translated words” wouldn’t have any sense of humor, and people looked at me weird. Then with time you become so familiar with the language, when saying jokes will be fluent. Your castellano can be well spoken, you can do it!!
Yeah, I guess I’ll get there in the end…. I think another problem is my English sense of humour — even if it does translate well, it might be too dark, weird or cynical for some tastes. That said, I think British humour might almost work better in Peru than it does in the USA.
Thanks for the trip to savor some of the best chicken I have ever eaten! I will certainly head there again next trip to Tarapoto!