Al Hana Charcoal Chicken, 417 Sydney Road, Coburg. Phone: 9354 4300
Despite the improved situation of Middle Eastern food in the western suburbs, CTS continues to feel the pull of Sydney Road in Coburg.
The starting part of Sydney Road, upwards from Royal Parade, has some marvellous food even if it’s looking more like Fitzroy these days.
But it is the kilometre or so south of Pentridge Prison that draws us.
Sometimes it’s just about needing a bit of a drive.
A time to ponder, to chill, to work through a knotty problem or even write a story in my head while listening to some pounding sounds.
And sometimes it’s just about the food.
I like the fact that as I cross the freeway, the houses on the narrow streets are different from those of the west.
I love the diversity of this part of Sydney Road.
The shop spread is a kaleidoscopic marvel.
Most of all, perhaps and putting aside our favourite eating places hereabouts, I love most the handful of really old-school arcades running off Sydney Road.
This is a retailing style that is pretty much extinct, though there are a few such arcades off Keilor Road in Niddrie.
Al Hana is like a cross between a regular Aussie charcoal chicken shop and a Lebanese grill house.
There’s lamb here but it is chook that dominates.
This is my second visit to Al Hana and I order the exact same meal – the half-chicken meal for $17.95.
This time around, the chicken is a bit of a disappointment.
The breast meat is too dry and all is simply a bit on the bland side – even the skin.
The leg is a winner, though.
The accoutrements are outstanding.
Three dips – a creamy garlic, smoky eggplant, hoummus – are all terrific.
The chips are hot and crisp.
The tabouleh is wet, fresh and lemony.
And there’s two kind of pickles – cucumber and turshi.
There’s so much food, I barely make use of the pita bread provided, instead dipping the chips in the dips.
Makes a difference from the ubiquitous mayo or aoili of burger bars!