Lebanese-Australian chain El Jannah has gained cult status for its delicious charcoal chicken and famous garlic sauce, and now the Western Sydney institution has opened in Canberra.
El Jannah started as a family business in 1998 in Granville, Sydney. Twenty-five years later, a second generation is involved in the business, and their charcoal chicken empire extends throughout Sydney and beyond.
The first interstate franchises opened in Melbourne late last year, and now El Jannah has come to Canberra, with franchisee Christian Candelori opening a store in Gungahlin.
“There’s heaps happening in Gungahlin, and with the tram so close, it means there’s a lot of accessibility,” explained Mr Candelori.
“We wanted to be in an area that’s up and coming; there’s a lot of young people here and a mix of cultures.”
The store officially opened on Saturday (27 May), but those in the know have snuck in ahead of the crowds during their ‘soft opening’ week to get a taste of the much-hyped food.
And let’s not beat around the bush: the hype is real.
A Woolies chook pales in comparison to an El Jannah charcoal chicken meal. It’s juicy and pull-apart tender with an umami-rich exterior. And the garlic sauce – which Mr Candelori describes as ‘iconic’ – is punchy and chock full of flavour. The whole thing is a magic combination of salty, smokey comfort food.
We grabbed a whole chicken meal with fresh Lebanese flatbread, pickles, soft drinks, chips and that iconic garlic sauce. The meal is very reasonably priced at $39.90 considering the amount of food included, and we also added a side of tabouli (herb salad).
Mr Candelori said that value for money is an important part of their business.
“We want to be affordable, give good value … and just be a part of daily life. We want to be a part of people’s families.”
Many of the dishes on the menu are designed to share among family or friends, and it’s very satisfying to put together your own wraps with the fresh flatbread. And it’s a nice mix of fresh sides to go along with the chicken, which makes the meal well-balanced and not too oily or heavy.
The whole menu is Halal certified, and there’s a full list of allergens for all menu items on the El Jannah website.
The menu also has a range of fried chicken meals and a selection of salads and more traditional Lebanese dishes. I’d go back for the tawouk meal to try the chicken skewers, and I had some regret about not ordering a side of hommous.
The team at El Jannah – or just EJ to their fans – have perfected the art of quick service, you can also place your order online through the El Jannah website if you want to cut down on queueing.