Food and Drink

This New Sydney Chicken Spot Is Better Than El Jannah and Frangos

Hear me out, before you gather the pitchforks.

Henrietta charcoal chicken
Photo Courtesy of Henrietta

Every suburb has its war, from the best beaches, which Manly and Bondi battle for the top spot, to the best chicken schnitzel—which every pub claims to have. Although, not many debates get quite as heated as the infamous Sydney charcoal chicken war—Frangos vs El Jannah

Frango’s serves Portuguese style chicken, slow-cooked on a spit and prepared according to a recipe passed down through generations, blending the spices of their ancestors in Angola and the traditional charcoal techniques from Portugal. Some say the chicken is better at Frango’s, others say it’s the chilli sauce that makes it shine.

Over at the vibrant green, Lebanese style chicken chain, El Jannah, you get a tub full of garlic sauce, Lebanese pickles, and pita bread at a reasonable price. Here, some prefer the sauce and say the sides are better than Frango’s— again, it comes down to preference and personal taste. 

Growing up in Western Sydney, and the fact my mum worked for Frango’s meant we were a Frango family, although, unlike some, we were happy to also go to El Jannah for a meal. There are families who have been divided over the war, choosing one side and sticking to it, no matter what chicken is brought home for dinner. They’ve put their charcoal chicken chain preferences above relationships, and I’m about to start another war, with a new chick on the block who I believe is the wild card in this scenario. 

Photo Courtesy of Henrietta

Henrietta is a funky little chicken shop in Surry Hills that opened in July, last year. Inside, you will find a 65-seat eatery, bar, and take-away establishment serving traditional Middle Eastern style charcoal chicken, with all the trimmings. Owner, Ibby Moubadder grew up in Lebanon, so family feasting is part of his culture. When he moved to Australia, he would drive out to the suburbs in search of that same family feast, and now with Henrietta, he brings his nostalgic comfort to the table. 

The chicken here is cooked over hot charcoal, resulting in a juicy chook, with a crispy layer of char—elevated even further with a dollop of garlic toum. Although El Jannah does a similar chook, Henrietta’s is bigger, juicer, and in my opinion, packed with more flavour. Imagine digging into a roast chook that has juicy layers of white meat, topped with a thin layer of charred-blackened skin, providing those classic spices we’ve all come to love with Lebanese cuisine. 

It doesn’t stop there. El Jannah is known for its sides, whereas Henrietta’s hero is the chicken, but I would contest its sides are equally as good as the chicken. I went all-in for their weekend lunch banquet, which comes with a range of sides, including homemade hummus, pickles, Lebanese bread, and more. 

Firstly, the hummus is thick, and creamy, and comes with a pool of oil in the middle, begging to be dipped in bread. The pine nuts sprinkled on top gives it that extra crunch and flavour. The falafel is crunchy, soft in the middle with plenty of spices running through, and pairs well with the pickled veggies and tahini sauce, wrapped in a blanket of warm Lebanese bread.  

chips sumac
Photo Courtesy of Henrietta

The chips were a surprise. I’m a die-hard Frangos chips fan. I could eat a whole bag of them, but the chips at Henrietta hit differently. It must be the sprinkle of sumac chicken salt that brings salty and spicy flavours together. Not to mention, the crunch from being fried to golden perfection, and the way they are thinly cut so you get a nice ratio between crispy on the outside and soft and starchy on the inside. 

No matter which charcoal chicken you got to, garlic toum is a must. It brings everything together—the spices, flavours and textures. When it comes to El Jannah or Frangos, there’s a consensus that El Jannah has the best garlic sauce, which I agree with. It’s thicker, and who doesn’t love a giant tub of garlic sauce? Henrietta’s garlic sauce on the other hand is thick to the point, it sticks to an upside-down spoon. You can see little bits of chopped garlic in the sauce, and the flavour hits you like a punch, so I caution restraint when smearing this potent sauce on chicken or when dipping the chips. Nonetheless, it’s a garlic sauce I would want to be bottled up and kept in my fridge at all times, for when I need the comfort of garlic goodness in my meals. 

Henrietta salad
Photo Courtesy of Henrietta

It’s time to talk about the salads. Most would say it’s an afterthought. I was never a fan of Frangos greek salad, but they whip up a mean tabbouleh as does El Jannah. But it was never something we would regularly want to get, it was just there to balance the carbs and proteins. With that said, the banquet at Henrietta’s comes with a choice of salad, so for the sake of it, I ordered the fattoush salad, and it was the best culinary decision I’ve ever made. 

Just a refresher, fattoush is a simple chopped salad, with fried Lebanese bread ‘croutons’ dressed in a vinaigrette. It’s never been a standout, at least anytime I’ve ever had one, until now. The fattoush salad at Henrietta is a must— more than the falafel. My only criticism is I wanted more of it. The chopped salad had everything it was supposed to, herbs, tomatoes, a handful of red cabbage, and a generous sprinkling of fried Lebanese bread. Although, what sets it apart from others is the dressing. I asked for the recipe, but they’re keeping a tight lid on that. Although, a little birdy told me sumac plays a big role in this salad. If there is any salad you have to eat in your lifetime, make it this. A standout by far, and a perfect end to this debate. 

Regardless if you agree, or are willing to go see for yourself, Sydney’s love of charcoal chicken just goes to show our cultural diversity, which has brought quality food to our streets, and apparently, started wars. 

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Food and Drink

Red Rooster Is Serving Free Chicken and Piping Hot Cash This Christmas in July

Get your early dose of festive cheer.

Red Rooster Christmas in July
Instagram / @redrooster_au

The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.

From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.

Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.

Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.

Terms and conditions apply. Visit Red Rooster’s Christmas in July to see all the deals.

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