This restaurant that specializes in Spanish-style roast chicken offers a little taste of home, even if you don’t hail from Cataluña.
Sometimes after you’ve been away from home for a while, you can start to feel a little nostalgic for simple tastes. It might not be a special dish or an out-of-the-way restaurant that you find yourself longing for. Sometimes it can be one of those everyday things you take for granted when they’re always around. One thing we found ourselves missing after a while was being able to pick up a roast chicken for dinner at the local market. After finding out about Potechao! Bamboo, we know where we need to go when that feeling hits us again.
Potechao! (let’s just keep it on a first-name basis, shall we?) is the latest restaurant in the Bamboo chain of restaurants and banquet halls, which are known for their international dishes and elegant surroundings. However, the owner of the restaurant group always had the idea of a low-key restaurant that was based on the simple meal of chicken and potatoes. The specialty of the restaurant is pollo a l’ast, which means roast chicken in Catalan.
The location is a long way from northern Spain but just a short walk from Shibuya or Meiji-jingu-mae Stations, and it was converted from a teppanyaki restaurant this August. If the tempting aroma wafting down the block doesn’t tell you, walking into Potechao! will tell you that this is a restaurant totally dedicated to chicken: small poultry-related decorations abound, from a large, brightly colored painting featuring a chicken in the back of the restaurant to a sturdy ironwork chicken cage hanging across from the kitchen.
But of course, the focus on chicken, done right, goes far beyond these small aesthetic touches. The Spanish recipe is followed to a T: marinated for a day in the house’s secret recipe, the chickens are roasted on vertical spits in the rotisserie oven, and stuffed with prunes and oranges that add a juiciness and extra flavor to the meat. Where it comes through the most is with the most difficult part of the bird to cook properly: the breast. In the case of Potechao!, their white meat is tender and juicy enough to make you forget that you’re actually eating the healthy part of the chicken. Overall, it’s richly flavored, with rosemary and thyme coming through with prominent, but not overwhelming, flavors.
Waste not, want not is always a good word to live by, and the cooks at Potechao! take this a step further by using the juices from the roasting process to add an extra kick of flavor to their roast potatoes. And as much as we love plain white rice (and good gaijin that we are, we know not to drench it in sauce), there are moments when you want something with a little more flavor, and their rice, flavored with chicken stock, almost had us asking for seconds. Good thing that we’re so polite . . .
The dining space is not large—there’s room for about 20, and they do accept reservations for private parties—so one of the best ways to enjoy Potechao! chicken is to get it to go. Whole chickens with roasted potatoes are ¥1,600, half chickens go for ¥800, and a set with chicken, potatoes, rice, and salad is ¥980. If you’re just passing by, pita and freshly made potato chips are also available.
But if it turns out that Shibuya is a farther than walking distance away from you, the restaurant offers an online service that lets you order and have a pre-cooked chicken sent to you. Once it arrives, all you have to do is heat it up in the microwave, and dinner is served.
As we understand it, the goal of Potechao! is a simple one: they want to make everyday, but delicious, food that everyone can enjoy. After dropping in, we’d say that they’ve achieved their goal: this is an everyday taste that you could eat every day.