Palestinian Chicken
December 21, 2011 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Does Palestinian Chicken exist?

I would like to try Palestinian Chicken. This is a concept thrust into the public sphere by an episode of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which the main characters say it is fucking delicious. (while I've never seen the show, a radio show I listen to regularly plays clips from CYE)

So first, does the dish "Palestinian chicken" mean anything? Doing basic Google searches for it gives me links like Musakhan which don't sound like "Palestinian chicken", or look like what the characters in the clip above are eating... but from its description I would definitely like to try Musakhan-ish foods, even though it doesn't seem to be "Palestinian Chicken".

Second, where can I try good "Palestinian Chicken" (or Musakhan) in Chicago? This bit is a greater part of an "I want to try X food, and I live in Chicago" question, but for now we're just going for Palestinian Chicken (or Musakhan). I'd rather try a good-but-more-expensive place before I tried the cheaper-but-less-good-place, just so I know if I like the dish before ordering more or trying to make it myself.
posted by Evilspork to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
According to LA Weekly's restaurant critic, musakhan is the first thing that comes to mind, but:

"what is on the plates at the fictitious Al-Abbas, the restaurant Larry David visits in the episode, seems to more closely resemble the chicken at the beloved Lebanese-Armenian restaurant Zankou -- golden, crisp-looking and clearly roasted. The restaurant scene looks as if it probably was filmed in the Westwood restaurant Sunnin, which doesn't even have roast chicken on the menu, but the people behind the counter are wearing versions of the iconic yellow Zankou T-shirt, and the chickeny ambiance is clearly that of Zankou."
posted by jedicus at 8:14 PM on December 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yeah, Zankou is almost certainly what the writers had in mind.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:23 PM on December 21, 2011

Thirding Zankou, an L.A. institution which has a very strange history involving a divided family and murder.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:24 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Zankou chicken (which is literally a block from me!) is incredible. It's not really roasted though, it's chicken kebab cooked shawarma, doner, or gyro style on a spit. It's served with pita bread and tahini and garlic sauces, hummus, and a little salad with some pickled peppers. Replicate that as best you can in Chicago I guess, but I've never had chicken as good anywhere else. I'd send you some if I could, but I'll have to just eat some in your honor!
posted by crabintheocean at 8:33 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

What everyone has said, correctly, is that Zankou chicken is clearly the reference point, as it rightfully turns diners into fanatics. What no one has said, is that their tabouleh is also delicious.
posted by outlaw of averages at 9:12 PM on December 21, 2011

Absolutely the addictive glory that is Zankou, right down to the yellow t-shirts.
posted by scody at 9:22 PM on December 21, 2011

I Walked by an Armenian restaurant in Chicago several years ago, but I don't know if it's still there/serves Zankou-type chicken.
posted by brujita at 9:25 PM on December 21, 2011

It looks like Chickpea has a version of musakhan on Saturdays; I can't vouch for the place, since I've never been there, but I can vouch for the roasted chicken at Semiramis, a Lebanese restaurant in Albany Park. I don't know how close it is to Zankou's, but it too is served with a great garlic sauce.
posted by carrienation at 11:32 PM on December 21, 2011

This is tangentially related, I hope useful. I couldn't understand why Central Asian chicken kebab was always so excellent. We Googled it and make it here regularly now.

Crazy simple. Marinate in vinegar and garlic overnight. Smallish pieces, skin on. Put it on the grill - real charcoal fire is best.

It is magically delicious.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:06 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've had the musakhan at Chickpea and would definitely have it again. According to the restaurant's website it's the Palestinian national dish.
posted by Sand Reckoner at 1:42 AM on December 23, 2011

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