Takeaway Truth: Nando's Portuguese Chicken Skewer

Takeaway Truth is an occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. Today: Nando's Portuguese Chicken Skewer.

Fast food restaurants have been known to gild the lily when it comes to accurate depictions of their menu items. Far too often, the mouth-watering feast on the poster turns out to be a limp and oily morsel. In a bid to keep the fry-jockey overlords honest, we've decided to document the reality of fast food -- it was either that, or go postal like Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

If fast food restaurants were automobiles, the majority would be Datsuns (i.e. -- a cheap and reliable option for budget-conscious families.) Nando's, on the other hand, is more like an Aston Martin -- classy, steeped in tradition and eye-wateringly expensive. Their gleefully sexist and trashy advertising does spoil the analogy somewhat, but then, the same could be said about Bond girls.

Over the past few years, the Portuguese flame-grilled chicken specialist has been winning Aussies over with its adherence to fresh ingredients, healthier cooking methods and spicy 'PERi-PERi' sauce. However, despite paying through the nose it's still possible to end up with a lemon as we recently learned.

The last time Takeaway Truth tested Nando's, the results were quite simply appalling: both the Mini Chicken Burger and Pequeno Mini Chicken Pita bore almost no resemblance to their advertised likeness -- we generously described that pita as "a limp, soggy pocket of sadness", while the miniature burger was a misshapen knob stuffed with cheap lettuce. We found this discrepancy especially galling coming from Nando's, as the chain shamelessly markets itself as an ‘upmarket’ restaurant for cashed-up foodies. Tch, eh?

It was therefore with a cynical eye that we purchased the Nando's Portuguese Chicken Skewer; an elaborately constructed chicken kebab that comes with its own stand. If Nando's is incapable of making a humble pita wrap look like the advertisement, what chance did this thing have?

Below is how the advertised image (left) stacks up to the real thing:

Wow. For perhaps the first time in the history of Takeaway Truth, we really can't find much to criticise. The meat is perhaps slightly oilier looking and isn't cut as elegantly, but otherwise the two images are pretty bang-on. While it's difficult to tell from our photo, the capsicum on our skewer shared the same vibrant colour as on the poster. Even the number of meat pieces is the same.

Doubtlessly, this is down to the foolproof assembly method -- all the employee has to do is thread each component onto a skewer which is pretty hard to stuff up. This just goes to show that sloppy preparation is often the culprit when it comes to Takeaway Truth's biggest losers. Nevertheless, we believe the fault still lies squarely with the company. If your staff can't follow the instructions properly, you're not training them well enough. Have some pride in your product!

As Nando's Portuguese Chicken Skewer has proved, it is possible to make fast food look appetising without hoodwinking the customer. A little attention and care sometimes makes all the difference.

Truth Rating: 9/10

Which fast food franchise or menu item would you like us to tackle next? Let us know in the comments section below.


    "Today: Subway’s Premium Chicken & Bacon Sub and Meatball Sub."


    Yeah.. I actually expect @chrisjager to proof read too.. Probably the best pseudojournalist here.

      That'll teach me for abusing the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V keys. Also, that was the most bruising backhanded compliment ever!

        Apparently backhanded compliments are good for making girls sleep with you.

        @chrisjager it's ok, backhanded compliments are quite often the best way to get someone to improve themselves :) take it onboard as constructive criticism :) Otherwise, great article mate!

    it's pretty difficult to mess up a vertical chicken skewer - get it take away and see it it 'stacks up' <-- you see what I did? yer you did...

      are you high?

    you should do the KFC Zinger Pie if you want negative results.

      Way ahead of you :-P http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/05/takeaway-truth-kfc-zinger-pie/

        Yeah, I bought one on your recommendation, and I felt ripped off. The pie was luke warm and soggy, there was barely any chicken inside, and the filling was watery, flavourless, and not at all spicy. As a lover of a good Zinger burger and Wicked Wings, I struggled to even force myself to consume that travesty. I don't know where your miraculous, delicious pie came from, but perhaps you should base your articles on more than one sample, because I got screwed over.

          Well, that's surprising. I've had three of 'em and they've all been quite spicy (and that's coming from a chili lover).

            Agreed mate. I had one, it was spicy, just a little bit hotter than smash temperature, but most importantly held itself together for one handed eating without any mess at all. I actually really enjoyed it!

          Perhaps "Sad" should take their own advice and try it more than once as well before labelling it as such...

    are nandos franchise, i find the output differs dramatically, not sure if its my imagination but stand alone ones tend to do better while the shopping centre or city varieties are often worse.

      You're not wrong there! I "frequent" two Nandos: The first is in the town I work in (country town), the second is either in Australia on Collins, or one on Little Bourke Street when I'm staying in Melbourne.

      The country town one heats the classic wraps up, so the cheese is melted and everything is warm and soft. The ones in the city just cook the chicken and wrap it all up. It's a minor thing I guess, but it does make the difference.

        That's not a minor thing at all. There's a major difference between reheated food and cooked to order food. Your example is a great one mate.

    I found a fault....the rice grains in the second picture are HUGE! They almost make it look like hot chips. ;)

      The side dish was interchangeable, so I didn't judge it. This is pseudojournalism speak for "I like hot chips".

        Well thanks to these articles I tell my girlfriend I have to "judge" the fast food joint around the corner from our place every friday night. Who is going to keep Lifehacker honest if I dont "judge" and cross check your results. Its very important work.

          You should send us the pics! My belly could do with a break. :-P

    Nando's chicken tastes nice, but all their side dishes are extremely poor value for money. A "new" [ie smaller] dish for their already-overpriced chips is a price rise by stealth. I also seem to remember a while ago you got a bit of salad with your eat in meal. No more though.

    remember the photos are laboured for hours under lights and sometimes use substitutes to suit the studio environment and then photoshopped to death.

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