Usually when I order roast chicken at a restaurant, I half expect someone to come out and laugh at me. But that’s not the case at Castro Valley restaurant Oculto. As soon as you sit down, put in your order for the chicken, because just as at cult-favorite Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, it can take a while.
Once it lands on your table — a glamorous half bird ($38) with its crackly browned skin shimmering from salsa macha and butter — you feel like you earned it after your lengthy wait. The chicken sits in a pool of emerald-colored cilantro zhoug, meant to balance the bird’s richer qualities through acid and chiles. Cutting into the breast expels its savory, juicy essence. Slather each bite in the herby, spicy zhoug for optimal results.