Sitting on the train on the line heading toward Parramatta or Fairfield, one look out the window at Granville and you might be forgiven for thinking the suburb is on fire. There's smoke billowing from buildings, pluming down over the car park. When the train doors open, a smell engulfs the carriage, strangely comforting and familiar.
Please exit the train immediately, and head toward the smoke.
While most of Sydney knows about the delights of El Jannah, there's another chicken joint adding to the roast chicken inferno in Granville, Hawa Charcoal Chicken. Taking up what seems like an entire corner block, Hawa is a huge operation focused on the chook and its trappings.
Hawa Charcoal Chicken has a huge array of tables, there's plenty of seating for larger groups too. Besides the milk bar front there are booths with comfy soft seats and a large area for coffee and sweets.
The essentials for eating Lebanese charcoal chicken. Pickled pink turnips, wild cucumbers and a splodge of toum, a garlic and oil blend that adds back in all the moisture the roasting of the chicken removes. Packets of flat bread come with.
We don't want to get by just on paltry poultry, so extend our lunch to include a vegetable platter ($16.90). In fact this dish really makes our whole meal a feast, the addition on stuffed vine leaves, roasted cauliflower florets and grilled eggplant slices, hummus and baba ganoush, a falafel each and a pile of green tabbouleh, its magical.
Charcoal chicken in all its naked glory. The charred bits of skin are salty and crunchy. But it really needs all the extras to make it work, the drier bits of chook can get a bit harder to swallow. Slather on that toum, and it pulls itself together.
Once we had eaten and packed up the leftovers we needed extra toum. You can pick up tubs from the front counter, a medium is about $3. But best of all was a little side serve of chicken livers, cooked and served cold with lemon juice. Throw them in your takeaway bag too for $7.
Hawa Charcoal Chicken is at 43-45 South St, Granville. Ph: 02 9637 3111.