There's a tantalising smell of charcoal as you approach Habib's Chicken in Bankstown. It's the heady scent of meat slowly caramelising, the hiss of chicken fat hitting the coals, and then the loud whoosh of a hairdryer used to fan the glowing embers.
A hairdryer? In a chicken shop? It takes pride of place by the barbecue at Habib's, mounted on its own little stand before being removed, flicked on and brandished bravely in the direction of the red hot charcoal. The rush of air sends burning embers flying everywhichway while the cage of flattened chickens continues turning, like a medieval torture device.
Habib's isn't fancy. It's more of a takeaway chicken shop with extended seating. The tables are lined with two layers of heavy plastic sheeting, and dotted with tissue boxes for help-yourself serviettes.
Garlic sauce, salad, Lebanese bread, chips and pickles
The decor is minimal but who has time to look at furnishings when the food arrives this quickly. Orders are taken at the counter but delivered to your table. It's cheaper to get your charcoal chicken takeaway ($14.50 whole) but eating in ($20 whole) gets you a basket stacked with soft rounds of Lebanese bread, a plate of pickles and a saucer of creamy toum, or garlic sauce, that's made for dipping.
Whole charcoal chicken $20 ($14.50 takeaway)
The chicken is the star of the show, snipped with poultry shears into quarters. The chicken is so blistering hot from the grill you'll burn your fingers, but it's hard not to forge through the pain, tearing off strips of tender chicken straight from the bone.
And the skin. Oh the skin. It's black and charred and crisp and caramelised, imparted with a smokiness that lingers on your palate and your fingers. Cutlery? Who needs a fork when you're ripping into this stuff caveman style.
Medium hot chips $5
Can you have chicken without chips? I think not. The shoestring fries are blessed with one of Australia's finest seasonings - chicken salt, in a delicious shade of fluorescent yellow. Both the chicken and chips are even better when dipped in garlic sauce.
Tabouli and deep fried cauliflower $6.50
Choose from the bain-marie of salads to balance out your meal. The tabouli has enough greenery to offset any calorific guilt which paves the way for deep-fried cauliflower, baptised in hot oil until the florets become nutty and brown.
Family-friendly, easy on the wallet and guaranteed to have you looking at your hairdryer in a whole new light when you get home.
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Habib's Charcoal Chicken
24 Restwell Street, Bankstown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9708 2219
Monday to Saturday 10am–midnight, Sunday 10am–10.30pm
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Bankstown - Pho An
Charcoal chicken - El Jannah, Granville
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3/22/2012 12:26:00 a.m.