I cheated on my chicken last night. Zankou was my regular bird. You can always count on it, and you always know exactly how everything's going to taste. It's been a 20-year relationship -- certainly longer than any real-life one -- and sometimes after 20 years, you start to get just a teensy bit bored of the same mutabal foreplay and the climax of creamy garlic sauce perfectly combined with crispy skin, moist chicken and warm pita bread.
So I strayed to Chicken Al-Wazir. I admit it, I was seduced by the novelty factor of a different chicken. The unfamiliar salads stacked in the display case, the presence of lamb tongue sandwiches on the menu -- it was like dating a guy with a sexy foreign accent. I ordered up a whole chicken, an eggplant salad and a beef shwarma sandwich. Instead of being shaved off a large spit, the beef shwarma was first grilled on a skewer, then chopped into bite-sized pieces. It was enclosed in a large flatbread instead of a pita bread, with no sauce to speak of. It would probably have tasted good if you had never had a Zankou tarna or shwarma sandwich. Like the scent of an unfamiliar lover, the rest of the meal was about the tang.
shwarma sandwich, chicken al-wazir, eggplant salad
The chicken had a sourish, lemony tang to the garlic marinade -- quite pleasant, actually. The garlic sauce was discernably more sour than Zankou's -- again, an interesting departure. The eggplant salad, chopped up with tomatoes, lacked seasoning, although the eggplants had been nicely roasted to a char. It was fun while it lasted, but I felt slightly guilty afterwards. A perfectly fine chicken, but the whole just didn't exceed its combined parts. I don't think I'll need that illicit thrill again anytime soon -- there's something comforting about a reliable chicken who always comes through for you.
1219 S. Glendale Ave.
You should've known better than to cheat on Zankou. Nothing beats their chicken with garlic sauce. Shame on you for straying.
What about Elena's on Glendale Blvd @ Acacia? That's my favorite chicken.
Every couple of years I hope Al-Waziz gets better, but it never does. Crap falafel, undercooked chicken, every time. They must be a front for something since no one's ever in there.