You probably know Brazas Chicken from its restaurant in the Fort Gatlin Shopping Center in SoSoDo where it’s been serving its Peruvian style rotisserie chicken for 16 years. It had such a loyal fan base that it stayed open – and was the only food or beverage operation to do so – during the shopping center’s transition from its days of abandoned decrepitude to its current renovated and vibrant status as a happening restaurant venue.
Or you may have experienced Brazas when it opened a stand last year in the Marketplace at Avalon Park’s food hall.
But it’s unlikely you know the Brazas Chicken that recently opened. Yes, it has the same owner – Franco DelSolar – and its menu still features the crispy skinned/juicy meated chicken that first made it popular. But here the menu has been expanded to feature other Peruvian specialties.
It’s also in Avalon Park but is now in its own storefront about a half a block away from the Marketplace. (To make the move, DelSolar closed his stand at the Marketplace – the two locations have the same owner so the landlord was fine with it.)
The new location has a larger kitchen, larger even than the original Brazas, so DelSolar has expanded the menu to include some dishes that the smaller kitchens aren’t able to handle. Delsolar treated me and my guest to some of those dishes.
After nibbling on roasted corn nuts, we started with the mixed ceviche, which had lemon-marinated shrimp, scallops, squid and tilapia along with purple onions, corn and sweet potatoes. It was all cool, refreshing and flavorful. And don’t pooh-pooh the tilapia. DelSolar explained that he uses a certified high-grade fish in the ceviche, and it shows in the finished product.
We also had the seafood chaufa, which had much of the same varieties of fish and shellfish but in a Chinese-influenced fried rice dish. Chaufa comes from the Chinese word chaofan, which means fried rice. Chinese immigrants, mostly from the Canton region, came to Peru in the late 19th century and introduced their cuisine to the Peruvians. It evolved to feature Chinese dishes made with Peruvian ingredients, much like Floribbean uses Florida produce in Caribbean dishes. Brazas’s chaufa had a distinctive soy sauce note and the bits of egg and chopped scallions were familiar. But the fresh seafood, plus a dollop or two of huacatay sauce or mayonesa, gave it a more Peruvian note.
Saltado is a more traditional Peruvian dish, here made with chicken instead of beef (because the name of the restaurant isn’t Brazas Beef). The chunks of chicken were stir fried with strips of onion, tomatoes and wedges of roasted potatoes. The potatoes were deliciously sweet and the tomatoes created a sauce that went well with the timbale of rice that accompanied the dish.
The new space is casual but comfortable with several chairs and tables and a bar top for dining, too. A rustic wood wall on one side of the space features mismatched planks and the restaurant’s name in big 3-D letters. A large screen television on another wall shows a continual loop of scenes from Peru, a fascinating travelogue.
If you only know Brazas for its rotisserie chicken, you should check out the other Peruvian menu offerings at the new Avalon Park location.
Brazas Chicken is at 12001 Avalon Lake Drive, Orlando (map). It’s open for lunch Friday through Sunday and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The phone number is 407-412-5995.