The smell of charcoal wafts in the air. A queue snakes through the store. Families crowd into booths, cracking open containers of zingy tabouli and bags of soft pita, while teens perch on the edge of their bar stools shovelling chicken and chips into their mouths. This is a typical night at El Jannah, a two-in-one diner and drive-through in Preston.
The Lebanese charcoal chicken chain has gained a tremendous following since it first opened in Sydney in 1998. Since then, it’s followed the same method for its signature offering: the charcoal chook, with its crisp, charry, perfectly seasoned skin. For quality control, it’s marinated at El Jannah’s central kitchen before being shipped off to each outlet, where it’s cooked on-site over the coals.
For those uninitiated into the cult of El Jannah, the chicken plate is the simplest expression of what the affordable, fuss-free brand does best. It’s a quarter, half or full bird with Lebanese pickles (cucumber and red turnips), pita and a potent garlic sauce, made using a secret family recipe, that you’ll want to slather on absolutely everything. There’s also fried chicken and boneless chicken skewers, which might come on their own or stuffed into tightly rolled pitas with coleslaw, garlic and tomato sauce, green pickles and hot chips.
With tabouli, fattoush, hummus and baba ganoush also on the menu, there’s more than enough to make it a fully-fledged meal. Or for something more cost-effective, tack on an extra bag of bread.
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