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Recent visit to Zankou... disappointment

I went to the west LA branch of Zankou the other day and have to say that I came away a bit disappointed. Zankou's always been a pretty reliable source when I'm craving chicken and I've always loved the garlic sauce, but this time things were a little different. The first thing was raised prices, wasn't suprised I could no longer get a very filling 1/4 dark plate for under 5 (maybe it's only this branch? or it's been raised for a while seeing how I haven't been in a couple months). The second was when I went to get my order instead of the usual clear plastic snap-on lid magic sauce delivery system I get a pre-sealed opaque container that immediately makes me believe things are seriously wrong. The first taste confirms it. The sauce doesn't have the same punch it used to; seeing as how it came out of something that would've been dropped in my McDonalds bag it must be produced at some central plant now. So that's the main disappointment. A few small quibles were the reduced quantity of hummus (I can usually get one or two extra pitas worth of mileage before) and maybe the quality of chicken is down.
I'm not saying that I'll stop going there, but my search for alternatives has begun. Suggestions?

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  1. The rotisserie chicken at Reddi-Chic (Brentwood Country Mart) is as good or better than Zankou, if you are on the westside. No garlic paste, however. About $10 for an entire bird, plump/juicy and crispy skinned. Steer clear of the chicken sandwich or planks, which employ dried-out breast meat. The rotisserie'd bird, whole or combo plated, is the way to go at Reddi-Chic.

    1. I recently visited the Zankou on Sepulveda and was also very dissapointed. The service was very "Soup Nazi-esque" and the food was marginal at best. I love how when you order chicken, the prep cooks behind the counter throw it into the styrofoam box like its a frisbee. I asked for another garlic paste and I got a serious case of stink eye from the witch behind the counter. Zankou was a lot better when it was one or two locations; now it has turned into a commercial disaster

      1. there was some messy litigation following the death of the owner of the zankou chicken trademark. it's split between three family members now (if memory serves correctly), none of whom apparently get along. so you could be dealing w/ one of three different owners who are deciding to operate "zankou" in their own special way.

        i've been to the sunset location recently and the garlic sauce was still in the snap on lid.

        1. My SO and I go to the sepulveda location quite often. The quality has always been high and the garlic paste had the snap on lid last time we went (2 weeks ago). After all I heard about reddi-chick, we finally went a few months ago. Reddi does not even come close to zankou. The chicken at reddi-chick was dry, greasy and under-seasoned. At Zankou, even the breast is juicy and flavorful. YUM!! Now I'm in the mood to get some zankou.

          1. I just ate at the West LA Zankou for the first time recently and was dutifully impressed. Chicken tarna was as tasty as advertised, hummus was decent (I dig the splash of olive oil) and the legendary garlic sauce came in a clear container with snap-on lid. Only downers were the low quality pita and the lack of more salad options.

            1 Reply
            1. re: a_and_w

              Update -- I got takeout the other day. Received the dreaded foil-topped container. Sadly, there does seem to be a discernible taste difference...

            2. I went to the Glendale branch a few days ago (the best one, I think, but I've only tried Pasadena and Hollywood) and got the same foil-sealed, pre-measured garlic sauce you did. I agree, it was a bit less potent and was more "whipped" than the old sauce in which you could sometimes find huge chunks of raw garlic. The chicken was the same but the hummus was a bit thin and lacked some flavor.

              One quibble I have with them is that they no longer welcome substitutions. For example, the plain chicken "wrap" (which I still insist on calling a "sandwich" per the old menu) can apparently, no matter how many times you ask, not be made with all white meat. This is a request that was never denied in the past. Actually, it wasn't denied the last few times either, just wasn't made with white meat.

              1. I have been to the Westside location a few times and it has never quite measured up to my local Glendale and Pasadena branches. I'm not sure if this is just in my head but it's just never been the same. I went to the Pasadena branch a week ago and got the foil sealed garlic. I agree that it was just not up to par with the old sauce. However, I returned last night and I was glad to see they were back to the old sauce. Hopefully the foil wrap was just a short term thing

                1. I originally lived a block off the East Hollywood Zankou and now I live on the west side and their is no difference in taste for the garlic or the chicken.

                  You can still get a whole chicken for $10 and its the best I've found still in LA.

                  1. the burbank one is consistenly good and they are actually nice there. one of the guys used to be at hollywood location. hollywood location is increasingly disappointing. twice in a row my tarna has been dry and under sauced. it's bumming me out. i would even take the "too greasy days" over this new trend. i think they let it sit in the pan too long after it gets carved.

                    1. I've been going to the Van Nuys location for several years now, and have not noticed a decline in quality. Garlic paste is always in the plastic container w/ the snap-on lid. We often get a whole chicken to go, but it's always better to order a half-chicken and eat there. As of about a month ago, the chicken was very juicy, the skin was crispy and well-seasoned as always, and we loved it. (Never been to the W.L.A. location; I always used to go to the Hollywood branch, but haven't been for years.)

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: alexfood

                        For $7.99 get a chicken at Gelson's or Bristol Farms for $8.99. They are way better and they have several different seasoning choices.

                          1. re: SauceSupreme

                            That's true. I was shocked how good it was from Costco. My sister bought one. It was huge and delicious. I just don't know that when I crave chicken, I would go through the hell of the parking lot and the lines. But if there for other reasons, I'll definetly pick one up.

                            1. re: JSny

                              The reason is that they BRINE them to death. They are tasty, but real sodium bombs...


                      2. Yup - gotta be careful of all those Costco prepared foods. Hey - at least they carry La Brea Breads, right? The pitfalls of eating out - gotta watch that sodium intake... and the butter... and the msg... and the sugar... and the transfat... like negotiating a multidimensional minefield!