The logo for Kokoriko may be a rooster but chickens rule the roost at this Colombian rotisserie. A huge glassed-in large industrial oven holds whole golden chickens lanced on a horizontally mounted spit slowly rotating over gas flames. The eatery in the street level of the Axis building has brick walls, reclaimed wood tables, and handmade paper light shades with a patio.
Executive chef Richard Sandoval is from the Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood in Mexico City where his grandmother cooked daily feasts for the family. He also learned the ropes in his father’s restaurants in Acapulco. After he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., he opened his first of many restaurants in New York. In 2011 he was a semi-finalist for a James Beard award for restaurateur of the year. On a trip to Colombia, he fell under the charms of Kokoriko and brought it to Miami last year.
Named after the French onomatopoeia cocorico for a roosters’ crow, the chain was founded in Bogota 45 years ago by owner Edwardo Robayo’s father. It became so popular that Kokoriko is the generic name for rotisserie bird in Colombia. Free-range chickens are marinated 48 hours in a secret adobo with crushed annatto seeds for the reddish tint. The slow rotation cooks the birds evenly in its juices, resulting in crisp skin and moist interior.
Get a quarter, half or whole bird with two sides. Or get Bogota-style ajiaco soup with chicken seasoned with guascas, a wild herb related to daisies that tastes like mild oregano. The potage is thickened with Andean yellow potatoes and garnished with corn, sour cream and avocado slices. Rice and capers are on the side to mix in. Colombian aji chile sauce from the condiment bar adds a spark that can be tempered with creamy coconut flan. Cocorico!
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.