Everyone has an opinion about which spot produces the best charcoal chicken; so I know I’m going out on a limb when I declare: it’d be hard to beat Punchbowl’s El Jannah. This busy outlet opened in 2009 as part of a family-run business that first began in Granville back in 1998.
What I can say for sure is El Jannah make the best garlic sauce (toum) I’ve tried. It's fluffy and creamy, and it’s a must to apply it liberally to their moist charcoal chook. The chicken is marinated in a secret blend that includes lots of lemon, salt, oil and vinegar. Of course the only way to argue with me is going to try this one yourself – a Half Chicken ($10.50) is yours for just over a tenner, arranged on a plate with sharp pickles and toum. Save time and ask for a takeaway container of Garlic Sauce ($3.50) when you order your chicken… you’ll thank me for it.
While you’re in the neighbourhood, a few streets away (well technically in Mount Lewis) you’ll find SeaSweet.
Their steaming knefe (semolina encrusted sweet cheese) is a must-try. You can have it served in a bun, or on a plate soaked in their homemade orange blossom sugar syrup.
My good friend, and human rights activist, Mohamed Ali, sent me in with strict instructions to order Halawet el Jeben Kashta ($15.90/500g). The name translates to ‘the sweetness of cheese’, and the dish is a traditional dessert that’s popular in Lebanon, as well as in a number of other Arabic countries. It’s made from a cheese and semolina dough that’s filled with a cheese custard mix. It's flavoured with sugar and rose blossom water, then topped with a handful of pistachios, making a wonderful sweet-meets-savoury treat.
177 Wattle Street, Mt Lewis
Ph: (1300) 908 070
701 Punchbowl Road, Punchbowl
Ph: (02) 9759 2999