WITH so many restaurants serving chicken in Cebu—probably every restaurant has a chicken viand—the competition is tough. There needs to be that unique taste that would excite the palates of customers.

Inside the cozy hangout spot Balai Brunch by Cafeplus on A.S. Fortuna St. is a new charcoal chicken place that surely has the exciting flavors that Cebuano foodies look for in their chicken. Farooj Charcoal Chicken is centered on producing delicious, melt-off-the-bone charcoal roasted chicken rubbed with a mixture of nine spices.

Farooj opened last June inside Balai. Owner Gino Ortiz kept the Middle Eastern theme with its name. Farooj means “little chicken” in Arabic. “I was thinking of a name that would really stick to people’s minds, and Farooj sounded cool. At the same time since we are selling chicken, it also means chicken. It fits,” he said.

While Ortiz took inspiration in Middle Eastern spices, he said that Farooj’s mouthwatering chicken still has hints of Cebu’s local lechon manok or roast chicken. “I cook it with lemongrass inside the chicken,” he said. Oritz marinates the chicken for 24 hours before it is roasted on top of blazing hot coals.

Ortiz uses nine spices which are laboriously rubbed all over the chicken to ensure that every part of the chicken has that burst of flavorful spices. Some of the spices he uses are cumin, turmeric, coriander, paprika and garam masala.

What makes Farooj’s chicken even tastier are the homemade sauces that Gino himself has perfected. Each order of a whole chicken comes with four special sauces: Sahara, Farooj Special, Spicy Garlic and Garlic. Sahara is the spicy sauce that gives the already spice-filled chicken a whole more zesty flavor. The Farooj Special is less spicy but very savory.

A plate of whole chicken comes with three choices for sides: curry rice, cumin fries and pita bread. The curry rice is aromatic and a combination of both sweet and savory spices—for sure, one bowl wouldn’t be enough. Pairing the chicken with a scrumptious bowl of cumin fries comes with a myriad of spices that one’s palate would continually be enticed. Farooj’s pita bread is also a delectable partner for its chicken, especially when you douse it with any of their sauces.

Farooj also has plates, which are filled with their signature curry rice, chopped charcoal chicken and mixed vegetables topped with sauces.

Farooj Charcoal Chicken is located inside Balai Brunch by Cafeplus at No. 1, Floremer Subdivision, A.S. Fortuna St., Mandaue City, Cebu. Grilling goes on from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.