THE JT’S MANUKAN GRILLE STORY
From its humble beginnings in Bacolod City, the chicken inasal is set to conquer the world! JT’s Manukan Grille is taking the lead in introducing this local favorite to global foodies and travelers.
ORIGINS OF THE INASAL
Bacolod’s Burgos public market circa 1952 is said to be the inasal’s Ground Zero, where a young fish vendor surnamed Velez accidentally invented the marinated chicken as an appetizer for his drinking buddies.
But it was his mother Sabel who opened the very first inasal stall beside Floredith Theater along Araneta Street, next to the Bacolod City Hall and across from the Central Market. This was in the 1960s when Bacolodnons became movie lovers.
Sabel moved her stall to Cuadra Street near the Bacolod Public Plaza and adjacent to the city’s most popular cinema, State Theater. Her daughters Elisa and Nena helped her in running the thriving business, which attracted other inasal sellers to set up shop at the “Chicken Alley.”
As the inasal’s popularity grew in the 1970s, Nena and other stallholders transferred to a bigger site at the reclamation area known as “Manokan Country.” Meanwhile, Elisa and her business partners put up the original Chicken House on San Sebastian Street in the downtown area, which they later sold to architect-businessman Joe Cajili, who opened several branches and eventually expanded to Metro Manila in the 1980s.
CELEBRITY TURNS RESTAURATEUR
For award-winning film actor and TV star Joel Torre, no visit to his hometown Bacolod would be complete without his must-eat inasal meals. The food business was second nature to him, since his mother Luz de Leon-Torre was a pioneer in the catering industry.
Joel and his wife Cristy Azcona-Torre decided to turn entrepreneurs, opening the first JT’s Manukan Grille in 2003. Naturally, they chose Bacolod’s most famous recipe – the chicken inasal – as their signature dish, and they were not mistaken. When US celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern proclaimed Filipino food as the next big thing in 2012, he listed the inasal among the Philippines’ iconic foods.
Over the years, JT’s Manukan Grille has consistently gained a following in its various locations, making it to the top of SPOT.PH’s list as the No. 1 chicken inasal restaurant since 2015.
TODAY BORACAY, TOMORROW THE WORLD
Now, after 14 years and 15 branches, JT’s Manukan Grille hits the country’s No. 1 beach destination, Boracay Island.
Named as the world’s best island for 2016 by the prestigious Conde Nast magazine, Boracay will serve as a gateway to the international market for the chicken inasal and other traditional comfort food of the Ilonggos, with JT’s Manukan at the forefront.