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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Habib's Charcoal Chicken, Bankstown

hairdryer at habib's charcoal chicken, bankstown

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 charcoal chicken, bankstown
Inside Habib's

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, lebanese bread and salad at habib's charcoal chicken, bankstown
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.

habib's charcoal chicken, bankstown
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.

hot chips at habib's charcoal chicken, bankstown
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 at habib's charcoal chicken, bankstown
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.

fried cauliflower at habib's charcoal chicken, bankstown
Deep-fried cauliflower

habib's charcoal chicken, bankstown
Charcoal chicken

Family-friendly, easy on the wallet and guaranteed to have you looking at your hairdryer in a whole new light when you get home.

habib's charcoal chicken, bankstown

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Habib's Charcoal Chicken on Urbanspoon
Habib's Charcoal Chicken 
24 Restwell Street, Bankstown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9708 2219

Opening hours: 
Monday to Saturday 10am–midnight, Sunday 10am–10.30pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Bankstown - Pho An
Charcoal chicken - El Jannah, Granville
20 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/22/2012 12:26:00 am


  • At 3/22/2012 12:59 am, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    I love this place! But so does my ex who lives nearby and frequents often -.- which means I always send someone in to get takeaway to avoid an awkward situation lol. Chicken, garlic sauce and chips <3

  • At 3/22/2012 3:40 am, Anonymous Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    The problem is I can't get past Pho An everytime I'm in Bankstown and I haven't had those deep fried cauliflower since uni days!

    I found Angelo's charcoal chicken in Kensington to be pretty good too. especially their $13.90 deal on Tuesday nights.


  • At 3/22/2012 8:21 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    You've to to love a good rotisserie chicken. Places like this always remind me of eating delectable chicken throughout the Middle East many years ago. A bit of hummus, some flat bread, I'm in heaven. Man just lookmat that fried cauliflower

  • At 3/22/2012 8:30 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    heh *stares at hairdryer wistfully*

  • At 3/22/2012 9:13 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    i gotta add this one to my wishlist. looks great!

  • At 3/22/2012 9:41 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    This place may be a little far for me but you have just convinced me to make a trip here! I'm dreaming of that fried cauliflower! LOL!

  • At 3/22/2012 10:57 am, Anonymous Johanna said…

    This place sounds like a real 'institution.' I live in Tropical North Queensland, and wish we could have a little bit of this place up here! I can smell that chicken from here :)

  • At 3/22/2012 2:27 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    Everyone kind'of seems taken by the cauliflower! A little wicked, but balanced by that very herby tabbouli: I'm in :D ! And the hairdryer makes that appetizing chicken even more so! Such a fun, comfortable post!

  • At 3/22/2012 5:01 pm, Blogger The Food Mentalist said…

    Yum Yum Yum

  • At 3/22/2012 11:17 pm, Anonymous Sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    Hehe, Australia's finest seasoning, chicken salt. Yup so true :)

  • At 3/23/2012 10:41 am, Anonymous Paul said…

    Buy some of the garlic sauce as take away, spread on Lebanese bread/any bread, then toast the bread. Instant garlic bread.

  • At 3/23/2012 1:25 pm, Blogger Anna @ The Shady Pine said…

    With a hairdryer, they are serious about their chicken! I love the taste of charcoal chicken and oh my goodness the skin is always the tastiest part!

  • At 3/24/2012 12:28 am, Anonymous taro said…

    Helen, you are such a talented food blogger... The words and expressions along with your beautiful pictures! Your posts are oozing with passion and love for food!

  • At 3/24/2012 10:54 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    mmm have always wanted to try this place but i never knew they had deep-fried cauliflower!

  • At 3/25/2012 12:45 am, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    ive walked past this place so many times and ive never tried it! maybe its a sign that its time! i love the hair dryer idea! such a sucker for novelty!

  • At 3/25/2012 9:51 pm, Anonymous Claire said…

    We ate here yesterday and the chicken and chips were amazing! Sadly the cauliflower was very cold and oily, the tabbouleh was too lemony and the toum was just garlic mayonnaise. I would go back for the chicken however - and the kids thought the hairdryers were brilliant! Thanks for putting Habib's on our radar!

  • At 3/25/2012 9:58 pm, Anonymous gaby @ lateraleating said…

    The hairdryer trick is very clever. The chicken looks fantastic.

  • At 3/26/2012 7:41 pm, Blogger jack said…

    This looks sooooo good. I am most definitely going to go as soon as I can! Great photos too, especially of the hairdryer on the rotating chickens :)

  • At 3/27/2012 1:44 pm, Anonymous Arradius said…

    It's fantastic there, but seriously, next time venture up the street a bit to Mazaya - Egyptian chicken place. The garlic dip there is the best I've ever had (though quality can sometimes change) and the chicken is pretty awesome too!
    Nice to see some more bankstown stuff getting reviewed!

  • At 3/30/2012 8:42 am, Anonymous Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    Habib's was the first place I ever had charcoal chicken. I will always remember that blissful moment where I first made a connection with that garlic sauce.....................


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