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Now reading El Jannah

El Jannah

This super-popular shop serves the best Lebanese chicken in town.

el_jannah

Location

4-8 South Street
Granville Sydney Australia

What to order

spit-roasted chicken with flatbread, toum, and pickled turnip and cucumber.

Chicken shops—restaurants focusing on rotisserie chicken, salads, and fries, primarily for takeaway—occupy a sacred place in Australian culture. They provide something for everyone: the busy mom picking up a whole chicken in a foil bag for an easy dinner; the greasy-fingered teenager snacking on chicken-salt-loaded fries while waiting for the school bus; tired commuters looking for a chicken-stuffed bread roll after a long day at work. Their ubiquity makes them indispensable: chicken shops are neighborhood hubs that are remarkably reliable for a good meal.

Many are also examples of immigrant ingenuity. El Jannah, in Sydney’s western suburbs, is a chicken shop with a Lebanese flair. Here the chicken is butterflied, marinated, and cooked on a spit over a pile of coals. The birds are pulled off the spit once the skin is charred but the meat is still juicy, then snipped into pieces and served with flatbread, a big dollop of toum (like aioli, but with extra garlic and no egg), and super-salty pickled turnip and cucumber.

You can find plenty of places serving this exact combination, but the original El Jannah is the best of the bunch. Their chicken is as good as anywhere else, the pickles are sharper than others, and the toum more robust, but the atmosphere of the place is what makes it so special: the sheer number of people packed into tables, the excitement of the queue, the smoke billowing from the rooftop, and the way you’re assaulted with the smell of blackened skin, fat, and charcoal as you emerge from the train station, before the restaurant even comes into sight.