The smell of barbequed chicken hits you as soon as you turn onto the main street of Granville. While this suburb is probably best known as the home of the original El Jannah, it is immediately apparent to me that this is not where this mouth-watering aroma is emanating from...
Taking up several shop-fronts, the culprit is Hawa Charcoal Chicken. It has bright red awnings, and an extensive indoor seating area that seems to go on forever. You order at the counter where you can watch meat skewers being hand-turned over charcoal, and endless racks of flattened chickens rotating on a spit to a soundtrack of pops and sizzles from fat dripping onto glowing charcoal. As you'd expect, the scent of charred chicken skin is even stronger in here, and it makes my mouth water even after a half-eaten, unsatisfying dinner elsewhere.
We consume our second dinner at one of the street-side outdoor tables, where we can watch late-night Granville parade by. Most of them seem to be coming to Hawa, or the popular El Sweetie sweet shop next door. Both stay open until at least 11pm.
We give Hawa's Lebanese-style barbequed chook a whirl in a Half Chicken Mix Plate ($22.90) that’s plenty big enough to share. The chicken is juicy and smoky, with excellent, well-charred skin. You drag it through toum (garlic sauce) and wrap it in soft rounds of Lebanese bread with salty and sharp cucumber pickles, tabouli and a drizzle of house-made chilli sauce. The chilli sauce has got a lick of sweetness before the burn that reminds me of raspberry vinegar.
Punctuate your rolled chicken kebabs with slightly bendy, lurid pink pickled turnips dragged through excellent baba ghanouj topped with a puddle of olive oil and some chilli powder for colour. Your plate also includes felafel and hummus, making for a nicely balanced meal. The only thing I can conclusively say El Jannah does better is their wonderfully fluffy garlic sauce, the rest is pretty much on par.
Hawa Charcoal Chicken
43 South Street, Granville
Ph: (02) 9637 3111