Cheap Eats: Zankou Chicken
It all started with the Iskenderian family chicken recipe in Beirut, Lebanon, where popular market corner spices were used to enhance secret flavors of their traditional dishes. By "it" I mean, Zankou Chicken restaurant, where Greek and Mediterranean savors fill the atmosphere and burst in your mouth with every bite.
Like most people striving to achieve their dreams by moving to Los Angeles, the Iskenderian family couldn't wait to "Live in the land of opportunity," according to the history of their journey on their website.
When they opened the first Zankou restaurant in Hollywood, their famous rotisserie chicken became even more renowned than the blocks' common celebrities.
At first glance Zankou seemed like any other ordinary restaurant. Unlike other eateries on the Sunset strip, its plain white sign and insipid entrance didn't even lure me in at first. Nevertheless I was craving some Greek flavors and as I gazed upon the appealing and inexpensive items, I knew I was in the right place.
These items consist of a variety of customary Mediterranean dishes such as their moist beef and chicken kabob, falafel and shawarma wraps, numerous fresh sides and salads, and their infamous rotisserie chicken for less than $8. Other Greek entrees of tarna and soujouk contain grilled slices of chicken and skewers of beef sausage, which provide that missing ingredient from the menu. (what missing ingredient? Sausage?)
Since the Iskenderian family came to America with their infamous chicken recipe, I knew I had to taste it. I ordered the quarter dark chicken, only $6, the most inexpensive chicken I have ever paid for. Not only did it come with a huge piece of delicious rotisserie chicken but was complemented with sides of fresh hummus dip, popular Greek garlic sauce, hot pita bread, and ripe red tomatoes.
As I took a bite of the moist, yet crispy chicken, the flavors were unrecognizable and indescribable. Although I am usually a hummus fanatic, I favored Zankou's garlic sauce more. It was as if dozens of garlic cloves were crushed into one small bowl and when taking a bite, the flavor was so strong that I knew a whole pack of gum would be crucial to relieve the pungent smell from my mouth. Don't let the smell hold you back; the garlic sauce is well worth it.
With an overwhelming amount of delicious food for prices as low as $4, it's no wonder why Zankou is constantly packed with regulars.
"I come here almost once a week and even though there are so many customers I find myself eating five minutes after ordering," said Kristen Zacks, a loyal Zankou customer.
Along with the traditional Greek menu, quick service, and cheap prices, comes a warm family atmosphere, something the Iskenderian family has continued to uphold. After opening six successful Zankou Chicken restaurants across California, there's no doubt that they achieved their American dream.
"Opa", a Greek term meaning party or dance not only defines the ambiance of Sunset Strip but also of the infamous restaurant. So forget barhopping the next time you're there, have a Greek party of your own at Zankou.
5065 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA