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Zankou... ???

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Just when I'd amused myself with an overwrought report on Clementine's which seemingly belabored the fact that the counter person wasn't a Mensa member, I found myself late last night in a similar position at the seminal Zankou-W.L.A. branch. Coming back from a show, with the drive thru line at Jack's way too long I spied the well lit Zankou at Sepulveda and Santa Monica Blvd and thought what a perfect time to try this place again. I'd only been once before when they first opened and was fairly underwhelmed especially in light of my friend's overwhelming enthusiasm for the Valley branch. I got in right under the wire before their 11pm closing. For $4.98, the price of a whole sumptious Costco bird, I got the fairly moist quarter pound white meat chicken plate which sports three large pieces of pita bread, a geneorus serving of fairly decent hummus and a mound of some pink pickled oddity. I believe it's all meant to be held together by a small container of a white garlicky paste that resembles Elmer's glue. I truly don't get it. El Pollo Loco is more flavorful. Now who's being overwrought?

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  1. I don't think you're that far off and are more right on then most who worship Zankou, IMHO.
    I personally find their chicken a little too greasy and their other items are okay, at best. If you consider this place more of a fast food joint rather then a high quality sit down middle eastern restraurant, you won't be as dissapointed. I tend to agree with you and 4 out of 5 times would prefer to pick-up El Pollo Loco over Zankou. I'd much rather use El Pollo's guacamole salsa with rice and beans over overly mayonaised garlic sauce (which makes you stink for 2-3 days, not to mention your car and house.) Not good!!!

    The pink stuff you saw are pickled turnips. They're pickled with vinegar, spices, garlic and beets, hence the pink color.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Joe

        Chicken is dry and nothing special. Albertson's rotisserie chicken is way better. But what is special is the garlic sauce. That is their whole secret for success.

        1. re: daveg456

          Every few weeks, for several years, I go to the Van Nuys Zankou and have NEVER had dry chicken. I gave up buying chain grocery store roast chickens years ago because the ones that my mom always got from various Ralphs around W.L.A. were ALWAYS dried out. When I tried Whole Foods, their chickens were even worse, dry and expensive! Pollo a la Brassa on Western at 8th St. is great but not a short detour off of the freeway on my way home like Zankou is. I'm due for a stop at Zankou and hope and expect that it will be as good as always. I do drive by a new Albertsons on my way home and may try the chicken but my expectations are not high.

      2. I think that the garlic sauce saves the chicken, regardless of how much it makes you smell. It's garlic!

        I always get the shawermas, which I enjoy a lot. If there are better shawermas, I would love to hear where I could find them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: young_chower

          Excellent shawarma at Mediterranean Cafe in Pasadena. Zankou is OK, but is only popular because it is closer to the Westside than the more plentiful and smaller Armenian/Lebanese places in Glendale and Pasadena.

        2. results vary from branch to branch, order to order. i've had great chicken at zankou. i've also had dry, bad chicken. still its miles better than el pollo loco overall, where smoke seems to be the only seasoning.

          that "pickled oddity" is a middle eastern thing - not my cup pof tea but some people dig it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rameniac

            IMO, smoked cooked chicken beats a drenched in grease chicken which is commonly consumed with garlic mayonaise and pita bread. I couldn't think of a more dry combination. Saying that, I eat Zankou infrequently and I have friends that love it. Usually, it's because it's something new and different for them. Isn't that the case with almost anything? It's human nature.

          2. The quality does seem to vary widely. The Glendale branch, on Colorado, can be very good if you go there around lunch or dinner, when it's crowded. Otherwise, not so good. The Hollywood branch, on Sunset, is in my experience nearly always awful. With so much other, better chicken around town, I seldom bother with Zankou anymore.

            1 Reply
            1. re: estone888

              the Sunset location has the worst bird i've ever had and i dig Zankou- so if any one decides to try it for the first time, check out the one in Glendale.

            2. Their garlic sauce is the best! I've tried the one in Pasadena.