We caught up with Ali Sidani, the CEO & Founder of Pollo Pollo, at his restaurant in Dubai — an elevated-casual dining space with a warm, homestyle appeal — and talked about the rich cultural heritage of Peruvian cuisine and how Sapaad helps him run Pollo Pollo.
Before Ali founded Pollo Polo — the first-of-its-kind authentic polleria in the Middle East — he took two fascinating culinary tours through Peru’s small coastal towns and its capital Lima. At Pollo Pollo, the signature Peruvian Pollo a la Brasa or rotisserie chicken takes center stage.
“My mission at Pollo Pollo is to take people on a mini vacation to Peru.” says Ali. And with good reason — everything at Pollo Pollo, from the cuisine prepared by the team of Peruvian chefs, to the Inca Empire-inspired decor, is authentically Peruvian.
“Peru’s culinary tradition is a blend of various cultural influences that can be attributed to the country’s political history.” says Ali.
He adds, “Spain colonised Peru for centuries. The most evident manifestations of the Spanish culinary influence is in the introduction of rice and citrus in the cuisine. The Chinese community then arrived during the construction of Peru’s railway network, and they introduced the Chaufa — a Chinese-Peruvian fried rice specialty.”
Ali goes on to tell us about the Japanese cultural influence that emerged in Peru after World War II, and the Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine called Nikkei that is now very popular. In addition, Peru has a diverse topography with the Amazon, the Andes, the Pacific coast and the desert.
“That’s what makes Peruvian cuisine so special,” he says. “And that’s why today it is the avant-garde cuisine worldwide.”
The Pollo a la Brasa had humble beginnings in Lima back in the 1950s. Today, pollerias are all over the country. “In the evenings, everyone from the President to the porter go to the pollerias to have their chicken.” he says of the popularity of rotisserie chicken in Peru.
Pollo Pollo’s in-house maestro pollero, Chef Jose, has 15 years of experience with rotisserie chicken. “You can say he’s a black belt in rotisserie chicken!” he quips.
Ali adds that the chicken used at Pollo Pollo is naturally-grazed; no hormones, no antibiotics. “We marinate it overnight in our special recipe and cook it the next day in our rotisserie ovens, which we’ve sourced from Peru.”
He talks about their initial challenge of finding the perfect sauces and marinades to use in their dishes. He sampled products from several suppliers, but did not find the flavours authentic enough. “We then had our chef go to Lima and based on his own special recipe, create and ship the sauces and marinades especially for Pollo Pollo. So that’s really where we take things to the next level.”
Every dish offered at Pollo Pollo has an interesting story behind it. The Causa De Pollo, for instance, originated during the war between Peru and Chile. “It was the wartime comfort food of villagers, made with mashed potatoes and filled with creamy chicken with aji Amarillo and avocado.” says Ali. The Quinoto is like Italian risotto, but made with quinoa. And the Aji De Gallina and Ceviche are very popular among patrons.
Pollo Pollo are also the first to bring the Inca Kola — Peru’s national cola, so to say — to the region. They also prepare a delicious natural drink called Chicha Morada from a unique purple corn that is native to Peru. He adds, “With the essence of this purple corn, we also make a special dessert Mazamorra Morada. That one’s a favourite.”
Other signature desserts at Pollo Pollo are the Picarones, which are like Peruvian donuts, served with Amazonian sugarcane honey; and the Alfajores, exquisite cookies filled with Dulce de Leche.
“We’ve been in business for a year now, and the response has been great. At Pollo Pollo, we’re driven by passion and believe in serving quality.” says Ali.
He talks about how important it was for them to align with a technological system that would back them in their commitment to quality. “We looked at several systems. But we’re very happy we found Sapaad. We were introduced to Sapaad by our restaurant consultants and we’ve been using it since day one. The implementation was smooth. And we’re very happy with their professionalism and support.” he says.
Ali adds, “As a point of sale system, Sapaad has a great interface. The ease of use is fantastic; my staff are able to use it very well. A lot of our initial business challenges were addressed, and I’ve introduced Sapaad to many other restaurant owners.”
As for their future plans, Pollo Pollo aim to rack up their already impressive home delivery business even farther, and are also looking to expand into catering. Peruvian catering is a unique concept, and more people are now looking for something unique for their events, so they see the potential to grow in that dimension.
Ali has ambitious plans for Pollo Pollo, including franchising and expanding as a global presence.
We believe great things are in store for Pollo Pollo — the food and the experience are awesome —and Sapaad is thrilled to be a part of their inevitable journey to success!