Jalea is one huge heap of seafood!
Maybe the last place you’d think to look for great cheap seafood would be a Peruvian rotissserie in Jackson Heights, Queens, much less one whose name is Chicken Festival. Well, we were surprised, too. The best thing on the menu we’ve tasted so far is jalea, a standard of Peruvian cuisine, consisting of sea creatures fried in abundance and heaped on railroad ties of fried yuca, which goes just as well (or better) with fried seafood than french fries or even tater tots.
Find newly opened Chicken Festival in the shadow of the 7 tracks at 79th Street and Roosevelt Avenue.
The serving you see above costs $16 and is described on the menu at “personal” size, even though two of us couldn’t finish it. There was also a serving twice as large for $25, which we saw a family of five happily digging into. The seafood was freshly fried in a cornmeal-flour coating, and included shrimp; corvina (a white-fleshed fish favored in South America); giant squid rings, probably really a cuttlefish, and mussels fried in their shell, which we’d never seen before. Wonderful lightly pickled purple onions blanket the top, and lime wedges are provided in abundance.
The standard chicken with green sauce is also available, priced at $6 for a quarter and $7 for a half, somewhat less likely coated with spices than most of the other dozen or so Peruvian chicken places in Jackson Heights.
Other Peruvian standards available on the menu: pork chops with rice and beans; fried fish fillets served with french fries and salad; lomo saltado (steak stir fried with tomatoes, onions, and french fries and poured over rice), tallarin (Chinese-peruvian lo mein), and rotisserie cooked pork ribs.
79-09 Roosevelt Avenue
Jackson Heights, Queens
The half chicken comes with beans, rice, and a salad with orange French dressing.
The interior of Chicken Festival is painted with Incan motifs.