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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

El Jannah, Punchbowl

hairdryer charcoal action at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl

You know a barbecue is getting serious when the hairdryers come out. Not one, but two. Racks of chicken rotating slowly over glowing coal, chicken skin spitting fat as it caramelises, and the drone of a hairdryer sending embers flying. Is it getting hot in here or what?

So everyone knows about El Jannah in Granville, but did you know there's one in Punchbowl too? Even better, the queues aren't half as long either.

dining room at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl
El Jannah dining room

The Punchbowl outlet is just down the road from the train station, straddling the width of one block. You can enter from either Punchbowl Road or Highclere Avenue - all the roasting action takes place at the Highclere end where you'll also have to pay and order.

raking the coals at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl
Raking the coals on the barbecue grill

It's mesmerising just taking a minute or two to admire the chickens getting cooked over the barbecue. There's always several cages on the go at once, with each contraption holding ten chickens prisoner.

barbecue chicken at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl
Barbecue chicken

Even with all driers blazing, you might have to wait while supply catches up with demand.

baba ganouj eggplant dip at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl
Baba ganouj eggplant dip and salads

It's cheaper to takeaway - a whole chicken with accompanying garlic sauce, pickles and bread will set you back $19.90 but get the chook to go on its own and you'll only pay $10.90. A whole chicken meal takeaway (with large chips, medium garlic sauce and either pickles or tabouli) costs $19.90.

pickled turnips at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl
Pickled turnips

You can hoe into a chicken or beef burger ($5.50 - $5.90) but didn't you really come here for the barbecue chicken?

barbecue chicken at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl
Quarter chicken with garlic, pickles and bread $6.90

The quarter chicken meal (specify if you prefer the wing or leg) will be delivered to your table on the finest melamine you can imagine. It's a segmented plate, so the chicken is here, tomato slices and parsley salad are there, and pickled radish and cucumbers are segregated in their own quadrant. Paprika-specked tahini sauce is quarantined in its own dipping bowl.

The chicken is succulent and juicy, but the best part is the skin - smoky and tasting almost like a bitter toffee in places, with that glorious residue of powdery charcoal staining your fingers. Oh baby.

shawarma plate at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl
Shawarma plate $12

If you're particularly ravenous, the shawarma plate will reward you with a huge pile of beef, thinly shaved and fragrant with cloves and cumin. Eat the beef quickly though, as it tends to get chewier as it cools.

falafel plate at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl
Falafel plate $4.50

The falafel are also impressive, golf-ball sized patties of chickpeas and fava beans that contrast a crunchy shell with a springy core, flecked with parsley.

lebanese barbecue chicken dinner at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl
Dinner for two $26.40

Dip, scoop and tear your way through everything, using soft rounds of fresh Lebanese bread as both a spoon and edible plate.

toum garlic sauce at el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl
Toum garlic sauce $3

And make sure you order extra garlic sauce. Fluffy clouds of garlicky goodness are the perfect match with everything - from Lebanese bread to the chicken to the falafel to the shawarma. We skipped the hot chips this time but potato and garlic are actually soul mates. I think garlic sauce is my soul mate too.

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el jannah lebanese charcoal bbq chicken punchbowl

View Larger Map
El Jannah on Urbanspoon

El Jannah Restaurant
701 Punchbowl Road, Punchbowl, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9759 2999

Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 10am - 12 midnight
Sunday 10am - 11pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
El Jannah, Granville

Lebanese - El Manara, Lakemba
Lebanese - Jasmin, Lakemba
Lebanese - Jasmin 1, Punchbowl
Lebanese - Rowda Ya Habibi, Newtown
30 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/31/2013 11:26:00 pm


  • At 7/31/2013 11:48 pm, Anonymous steph | alittlebitoftang said…

    Garlic Sauce + Salted Crispy Hot Chips. Congrats to you for resisting !

    I didn't know they had the Chicken Sharwama plate, but then I usually go to the Granville one. Must try next time :)

  • At 8/01/2013 1:00 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Yay! Juicy chicken. I sometimes think El Jannah is a little overhyped, my last experience was brilliant garlic sauce but dry chicken over there but it seems like the punchbowl one is a substantial difference.

  • At 8/01/2013 5:54 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    lol double action from double hair dryer never fails! Love their garlic dip! Best there is I reckon.

  • At 8/01/2013 6:09 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Lookee the glorious pickles! The pickles!

    Also, talk about something sweet. Something sweet.

    Today is repetition day. Reptition day.

  • At 8/01/2013 7:54 am, Blogger Sarah said…

    OMG! Looks incredible! I love the chicken-roasting contraption, amazing. :) *Must* put this on my list for my next visit to Sydney.

    xox Sarah

  • At 8/01/2013 8:58 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    My sister lives near this branch and she said she prefers the granville location. I've no idea why though! You guys have such will power to say no to hot chips haha

  • At 8/01/2013 9:13 am, Anonymous Jina @ Soy & Ginger said…

    Mmm, El Jannah. I'm so in love with their garlic sauce. I've tried recreating it at home, but can't quite get it right :(

  • At 8/01/2013 9:44 am, Anonymous angela@mykikicake said…

    Nothing beats a bit of El Jannah..I love heading to their store in Granville and then hitting up the Lebanese sweet shops afterwoods for some Kenefe!

  • At 8/01/2013 9:49 am, Anonymous JB said…

    Love their garlic sauce. I can slather that on anything! (PG-rated; get your mind out of the gutter!)

  • At 8/01/2013 10:31 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    So sad that I still haven't tried El Jannah :( I want "Fluffy clouds of garlicky goodness"!!!

  • At 8/01/2013 10:33 am, Anonymous Ev said…

    I did NOT know there was a Punchy branch! I do love the chicken at El Jannah. The garlic sauce is good but not as punchy (haha) as I'd like. The garlic at Jasmins in Lakemba is better I think!

    You're making me hungry.

  • At 8/01/2013 11:08 am, Blogger Von said…

    They must be pretty strong hair dryers! haha....I've read all about the chicken but the shawarma plate looks amazing too! I've still yet to try El Jannah- but will definitely get around to it one day :)

  • At 8/01/2013 11:14 am, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I am ALL about the Shawarma, that looks delicious! (and the hair dryers, lol...)

  • At 8/01/2013 11:40 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    I tried their Granville branch and think it's over-rated. The chicken was dry and burnt so I'm not sure what's the big fuss.

    Personally, I find Nando's beats this hands down in terms of taste and juiciness. Given a choice, I'll choose peri-peri sauce over that garlic cream on my chicken any day.

  • At 8/01/2013 12:34 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    ive had takeaway from here before but maybe it took us 20min to get home and dig it it wasnt as nice as expected, must go try dine in before i judge.

  • At 8/01/2013 2:21 pm, Blogger Vivian - vxdollface said…

    haha it's the new age blow dry bar ;) love the garlic sauce!

  • At 8/01/2013 3:44 pm, Anonymous elliesbelly said…

    loooove el jannahs, their chicken and chips are the beestest! if you havent been you should definitely check out Jasmins!

  • At 8/01/2013 9:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Google Maps tells me that both Granville and Punchbowl are about the same distance from where I live. Which one is better? Great news about the podcast!

  • At 8/01/2013 9:54 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    you should talk about pho, ramen or tacos in your upcoming 2ser slots. just a few suggestions for now. looking forward to hearing you on the radio :D

  • At 8/01/2013 10:09 pm, Blogger CQUEK said…

    i bet it must be delicious.. love the way they roast it.

  • At 8/01/2013 11:18 pm, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    LOOOOOVE their garlic sauce!!

  • At 8/02/2013 11:26 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    eat ALL the garlic sauce!

  • At 8/02/2013 12:15 pm, Anonymous billy @ a table for two said…

    I had The Avengers moment when you mentioned Shawarma! LOL....

    I love the hairdryer blowing.... so ghetto! LOL

  • At 8/02/2013 9:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Omgosh, I've never seen a roast chicken + hairdryer combo! Lol, that's so cool! I soooo want to try this now.

  • At 8/04/2013 1:35 am, Blogger GIDEON MACK said…

    Looks like McDonalds on an industrial scale.

  • At 8/05/2013 5:41 am, Anonymous thesuzchef said…

    You went to EJ and skipped out on the hot chips?!?!!?! Travesty!

    When needing an urgent EJ fix without wanting the crowds, I head to Punchbowl. For a more authentic experience though (i.e. waiting in line with a million other people), I go to Granville... I think Granville may be a bit better, but I'm sure it's just perception as its the original branch!

  • At 8/05/2013 12:58 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Steph - Ha don't worry. We definitely made up for a lack of chips with lashings of garlic sauce!

    Hi Neil - I guess Granville is often under the pump so quality may vary, but I was really happy with the chicken at Punchbowl. Maybe it's all about timing!

    Hi Ramen Raff - Can't beat garlic dip! Should eat it all winter to stave off colds. That's my excuse. Heh

    Hi Hannah - lolol we had baklava afterwards - I mean, no, we didn't.

    Hi Sarah - I love it when they get the hairdryers out! So much fun.

    Hi Tina - I guess Granville is the original and has more atmosphere but I try to avoid queuing for food, especially when hungry!

    Hi Jina - I haven't had much luck making my own garlic sauce either, but maybe not being able to make my own is a good thing! lol

    Hi Angela - Agreed. Gotta do the Lebanese quinella of chicken and then baklava. Yum!

    Hi JB - Haha. Let's leave it there, shall we?

    Hi Tina - You must get there! The garlic sauce may change your life. lol

    Hi Ev - Always good to have options, and I'm a huge Lakemba Jasmin fan too! Love their falafel especially.

    Hi Von - lol the hairdryers are used to heat up the charcoal but yes, it's pretty hectic!

  • At 8/05/2013 1:07 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Amanda - The shawarma is great for a protein boost and haha everyone loves the hairdryers!

    Hi Chopin - Maybe it was an off day? I think sheer volume puts a lot of pressure on the Granville branch but I'd give Punchbowl a go just to be sure.

    Hi Amy - Takeaway does tend to impact on the sog factor so maybe try dine-in. And try the garlic several times too. Heh.

    Hi Vivian - If only all hairdryers came with bbq chickens too. lol

    Hi Elliesbelly - I love Jasmin in Lakemba if that's the one you mean? And El Jannah has such a cult following, it's awesome.

    Hi lateraleating - Granville is the original but it's also much busier so I guess it depends if you're happy to exchange queueing for atmosphere? I'd try both :)

    Hi Annie - Cool, thanks so much for the suggestions :)

    Hi cquek - The charcoal gives an amazing flavour!

    Hi Sherrie Huang - You and me both!

    Hi chocolatesuze - We diiiiiid. lol

    Hi Billy - haha love me some ghetto food prep!

    Hi putputteats - lol you should definitely get down there!

    Hi Gideon Mack - There are no processed or frozen foods but they do have efficiency of cooking down pat!

    Hi thesuzchef - lolol we ate a tonne of garlic sauce instead. Gotta make compromises somehwere! And yes I agree, Punchbowl is perfect if you just want your food and you want it now!

  • At 8/05/2013 6:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The love for El Jannah is spreading :D :D :D Garlic Sauce FTW!

  • At 11/16/2013 11:00 pm, Blogger Lilia said…

    Thanks for the review, Helen! My friend said it is in Padstow, but your article clearly stated in punchbowl. We are going there soon.


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