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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.