You don’t need silver utensils to eat good food, and the vast array of Sydney cafes and restaurants serving dishes from all around the world is a testament to that. Sydneysiders seem to have taken a liking to the simplicity and quality of local charcoal chicken shops.
Kebab shops once dominated the Middle Eastern food game, but the rise of the charcoal chicken shop has superseded what was once a monopoly. According to foodies, the popularity of the likes of Anar, El Jannah, Awafi, Akly, and Meshwe certainly lies in their quality and diversity of food, but a driving force is also the dining experience.
Sydney locals at five popular chicken venues tell El Telegraph Weekend reporter, Pascale Esber, why they love charcoal chicken.
Location: Granville, Blacktown, Punchbowl
What the foodies say: Punchbowl resident, John Gabriel, 51, says El Jannah is a pioneer in bringing Lebanese food into the Sydney scene, something that he is thankful for. “El Jannah Punchbowl has become my second love. My wife gets jealous because she knows that’s where she’ll find me if there’s no food at home. Teasing her Kafta probably isn’t the best thing I could do, but once you try the Kafta roll here, you’ll understand,” says Mr. Gabriel.
Marguerite Massaad, 21, a local Inner West resident, has been a loyal customer for nearly four years now, and keeps it simple with her taste. Her favourite dish is the chicken, chips, Tabouli and garlic dip.”It may seem boring, but that dish hits all the right spots,” she explains.
Specialties: Shawarma Meal, Fattoush Salad, Tawouk roll and chicken breast.
Location: Granville, Punchbowl, Revesby
What the foodies say: Awafi’s appeal lies in its ‘no fuss, affordable meal’. Annie Turrello, 36 is a Hurlstone Park local who came to be a loyal customer by accident. “I was driving and got lost on the way home. I ended up in Granville when I passed Awafi, and I was feeling a little peckish so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s the best detour I’ve ever taken.”
Annie is a big fan of the Sambousik (minced meat and spices) and hommous meal and has been coming back for over a year.
Specialties: Famous garlic and charcoal chicken and hommous dip.
Location: Croydon Park
What the foodies say: Gab Defina, 20, a Canterbury local was recommended by a friend and has been going back ever since. “A friend of mine took me out to taste the food, specifically the Farooj (chicken) and chips with garlic dip. I was surprised because usually nothing compares to my Lebanese friend’s mum’s garlic dip and chicken – so I knew it had to be good!”
It isn’t just a place to grab a decent bite with a mate, families love it too! Lisa Munrow thinks the mixed plates (Kafta, chicken, lamb, tabouli, garlic, hommous and assorted veggies), is the best solution when she’s too tired to cook a nice Sunday family meal, “It’s clean, yummy and best of all, quality food at a great price!”
Specialties: Chicken burger with garlic aioli.
What the foodies say: The chicken burgers are a crowd favourite and one of their best sellers. Brayden Linney 21, believes they’re the best thing about Akly. “I come here at least three times a week to eat them,” he said.
His friend, Riwad Kazi, 21, couldn’t help but agree, “My favourite thing is either the chicken burger, the chicken, the chips, or the garlic sauce. Pretty much everything, but the chilli-garlic sauce is something!”
Riverwood’s Akly definitely has a loyal cult following and it’s happy customers and it’s lines are proof of that.
Specialties: Chicken burger with garlic-chilli sauce and chicken ribs.
What the foodies say: Mikey Stanton, 24, of Ashfield loves the taste of the wraps. “It’s such a good joint to get a feed. Their wraps are a top choice and so juicy and tasty.”
James Helou, 27, is another fan of the wraps and heads straight there on his way back home from work. “The Kafta wraps with tabouli and hommous is literally my favourite thing to look forward to at the end of the day. I could eat them all week.”
It seems Meshwe will be a permanent fixture in the Haberfield food scene.
Specialties: Chicken and Kafta wraps with hommous and tabouli
It seems the rise in popularity of chicken shops around Sydney is proof of the demand for decently priced, tasty, healthy meal options. Sydneysiders seem to have taken to them and they have wriggled their way into becoming an Aussie favourite.