You can smell the charcoal from a block away. Its smoky tendrils waft toward us, taunting us, calling us, whetting our appetite and making our footsteps to El Jannah just that little bit faster.
El Jannah means paradise or heaven in Arabic. It's a spiritual destination that many of El Jannah's most loyal customers profess to visit. The friend who recommended it to me closed her eyes as she told me about her favourite barbecue chicken. "The chicken. It's soooo tender. Oh and the garlic sauce," she murmured. It was a Homer Simpson-style moment of reverie.
It's clear that plenty of others agree. During our one hour dinner on a Friday night, I note that the queue at the register never ceases. Each departing customer is always replaced by at least another, and it's a whole cross-section of the community with Lebanese alongside Indians, Vietnamese and Caucasian.
The majority of customers are here for takeaway chicken, and with the relative price jump for eat-in, it's not hard to understand why (see prices at bottom of this post). The restaurant is not so much a restaurant, but more like a takeaway store with a dozen tables and chairs. We order and pay at the counter, and whilst we wait I try not to drool as I watch other customers request a side of chips included inside their shawarma, chicken or falafel rolls.
Pickled cucumbers and turnip
Chips $4.00 small
We pounce on the bowl of chips when they arrive. We weren't sure how many chips four dollars would buy you. Let me assure you. It's a lot. The potato straws are a heartwarming hue of gold, crunchy on the outside and sprinkled generously with chicken salt.
The Lebanese bread is delightfully soft, fresh and fluffy. We use torn wedges of bread to scoop up thick dollops of the garlic toum. The toum is quite creamy here, we notice, without any harsh heat of garlic making it more like an aioli.
The richness of the toum is balanced with mouthfuls of tabbouli, a zingy salad of parsley, tomato, onion, shallots, lemon juice and a smattering of burghul. We also dig into the pickles, a simple two-toned affair of salty pickled cucumbers and hot pink radish strips.
Whole bbq chicken $21
includes garlic, pickles and bread
And then there's the chicken.
Fresh from the grill and searing hot, we have to gingerly handle it with our non-heat-resistant fingers. The flesh is blackened with charcoal, giving a smoky smell and flavour. But the best part is the skin, so thin and crisp it shatters like a poultry version of pork crackling.
Falafel $1.50 each
And because we're suckers for punishment, the three of us have opted for falafel as well. These are unusually chunky in consistency, some of the fava beans still recognisable in wholeness, giving a heartier chunkier almost mealiness which is unlike the fine textured crumb we're more commonly used to. The falafel is served with a small pot of tahina yoghurt sauce along with slices of tomato and shredded lettuce.
There's too much food but staff are more than happy to provide a takeaway box for leftovers.
Good simple food and plenty of it. Now that's my kind of dining paradise.
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El Jannah Restaurant
4-6 South Street, Granville, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9637 0977
Open 7 days 10am-10pm
Eat in menu
Whole chicken with garlic, pickles and bread $21
Half chicken with garlic, pickles and bread $11.50
Quarter chicken with garlic, pickles and bread $7
Chops $4.00 / $6.00
Hommos / baba ganouj / tabbouli $5.50
Falafel $1.50 each
Extra plate of garlic or pickles $3
Whole chicken with garlic $12.90
Half chicken with garlic $6.90
Quarter chicken with garlic $3.90
Quarter chicken with small chips and can of drink $7.50
Chips $2.50 / $4.00
Baba ganouj $5.90 / $8.90
Hommos $5.50 / $7.90
Tabouli $4.90 / $6.90
Falafel $0.50 each
Chicken roll $7.90
Shawarma roll $7.90
Falafel roll $6.00
Garlic $0.50 / $2.50 / $4.50
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2/05/2009 01:16:00 am