Anyone who’s driven down the Western end of Canterbury Road on a Saturday has probably noticed the insanely busy car wash, wondering if something else is going on inside. There is. Just beyond the hustle of cars and jumpsuit-wearing workers, inside the carwash, is Awafi, one of the best and oldest purveyors of Lebanese charcoal chicken in Sydney.

It all started when Simon and Samira Azzi, and Andre and Carole Estephan opened a tiny takeout store near Granville station in 1998. Although a lot of Lebanese families were cooking charcoal chicken at home, seeing it in a restaurant was pretty much unheard of then.

Because the two families were making everything (including all their own sauces, meat mincing and pickles) on-site in Awafi’s tiny kitchen, it wasn’t long before the two families each decided to open bigger stores. The Estephans left to start El Jannah, and, the Azzis continued with the Awafi name in Revesby, Punchbowl, Belmore and Granville.

Since that 1998 takeout joint, the original Awafi charcoal chicken recipe has remained a closely guarded secret, even within the family. Eat it with the other two highlights on Awafi’s menu: garlic sauce and tabouli.

There are other things on the menu, some of them quite good (fatoush, kebabs, kibbe, falafel and other Lebanese classics) and if you’re in a big group, try them, but otherwise, going to Awafi and getting anything but charcoal chicken, garlic sauce and tabouli would be like an astronaut going to the moon but never stepping out of the spaceship.

Updated: August 24th, 2017

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