Today I paid a visit to Freska, located on the second floor of the University Mall. Known for its Chicken Inasal, Freska has been voted one of the Top 10 restaurants in the country serving the Ilonggo favorite. I decided to round up my food troop and see how true these claims were.
- Spicy Chicken Inasal – P99
- 1960’s Original Chicken Inasal – P99
- Inihaw na Pusit – P150
- Liempo – P125
- Pork Barbecue – P75
As I stepped into the restaurant, the smell of the grill greeted me at the door. Located strategically next to the front counter, the grillmaster was working at full force, put everything out on display: fresh bangus fillets, plump squid, and their famous chicken inasal. If the smell hadn’t awoken my carnivorous instincts enough, the meaty inferno that I had my eyes glued to certainly did.
After placing my order of proteins, proteins, and unlimited rice, I found myself a seat and began to take note of my surroundings. Even for a Wednesday, Freska was still well populated. The area was not lacking in size, but the booths that lined the walls were immediately suffocated by a row of tables that cramped up the entire space. However, I can’t really complain too much since it was my group that was seated at these tables 🙂
One of the perks that Freska had advertised on the walls was free Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, I was unable to find their carrier, even when I had asked the waitstaff personally, making me question the honesty of their internet 😦 Boo.
To keep the customers from getting restless, a wide-screen TV was showing a football game, and pop music served as the ambient sound. As good as their intentions were, I still found myself having to raise my voice to get the attention of the person next to me, since the staff had decided that their music was more important than what I had to say. The Fools.
The area was tidy and well-lit, and as clean as I could hope for a busy place. An incident occurred where a baby cockroach went on our table, which is minus points as far as I’m concerned. Still, it was as clean as you would expect, no more, no less.
Fortunately, none of us had to wait more than 10 minutes for our orders to arrive, which made me forget about the Internet lies and the audio beatdown for the speakers. Because when there’s food in front of you, there’s only one thing on your mind, right?
With two plates of chicken at my disposal, I was ready to see for myself if Freska’s claims rang true: were they really among the elite in inasal?
Before I get to the main course, I usually like to finish the sides. Each order came with a small helping of atsara and some green beans, the latter of which was a P10 add-on to the meal. Although the beans were fresh, firm, and ranked very high with my tastebuds, I was a little disappointed with the atsara, which was both too sweet and too sour at the same time. With mixed results on the sides, I was unsure what to expect with the chicken.
In terms of size, the spicy chicken inasal was just about as big as it cost. It had a great aroma, smelling of the grill and a semi-sweet marinade. However, when I bit into it, it had a taste similar to roasted ketchup. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. Moreover, it was dry in the thicker side and crispy at the wing tip, an obvious sign that it had been overcooked. However, the chicken lived up to its name and provided enough heat to make the spicy chicken inasal worth eating.
Although the spicy chicken inasal was not necessarily a success, the original inasal was able to save the day. I think it’s obvious why it’s been around since 1960. It was more pleasing in both flavor and moisture, and had a more savory flavor that tasted simply like a juicy grilled chicken. The inasal marinade was light, but still noticeable, complementing the taste of the chicken rather than masking it.
The three other dishes, which were barbecue, liempo, and squid, were nothing to write home about, but were still tasty enough. If you could imagine tasting grilled pork or grilled squid anytime in your life, that’s exactly what it tasted like. The three dishes were served on much smaller plates than the inasal, no doubt to make the servings look bigger. However, all it did was make the experience of eating the food much like the experience of sitting in the restaurant: cramped.
The waitstaff were above average, to say the least. Overall, they were courteous, quick to act, easy to call, and generous with the extra rice. As more and more restaurants boast the rice-all-you-can, this is key.
Restaurant: Freska’s restaurant was an average size, with average perks, and average hygiene. Each of them were tarnished, though, with a high table-to-space ratio, nonexistent Wi-Fi, and an insect intruder after our meal. Rating for the restaurant: 6/10.
Food: The fare at Freska’s failed to send me into a new dimension of foodgasm, but I got what I ordered at an affordable price. The sides evened each other out, some of them good, some of them bad. An average taste experience. Rating for the food: 7/10.
Staff: The staff gave me no headaches when I was there. I did not have to wait long for my food or for service, and the waiters were able to do what you asked, even when they were packed. Rating for the staff: 8/10.
The people at Freska’s may be voted as one of the top inasal servers in the country, but they didn’t prove it to me today. It was nothing memorable, but I got to eat some meat, and sometimes, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.