Noodlies, Sydney food blog loves this place
Look at it – glistening, golden, fragrant – our half chook at Al Barakeh Charcoal Chicken is begging to be grabbed and devoured. The huge charcoal ovens, flames licking butterflied chicken – here the flames have more fun leaving streaks of blackened and burnt skin. It’s an adult taste, slightly bitter and very salty while the flesh is white, well-cooked but tender.
Al Barakeh is doing well, very well, the charcoal oven is fired up twelve hours a day to cope with demand. It’s not a huge place, it seats 30 but does a bustling takeaway trade. Branding is black with red and gold flickering flames, it extends to the decor and staff uniform. Speaking of staff, this is a takeaway joint and while noodlies was expecting efficient service, the genuine warmth everyone exuded on this sunny Sunday lunch was a real winning, pleasant surprise.The minute we walked in staff picked we were newbies and offered help.
Our Lebanese charcoal chicken comes with the standard sides: flat bread, dayglo red and green pickles and toum, oh my – it’s gluggier than other places, but oh my, the garlic sauce intensity is extreme – it’s a real hot, heady rush. Apparently, it’s their special secret recipe, including no powder garlic, it’s all fresh.
I’m sure it’s not traditionally Lebanese, but I love having chips with chook. They’re neither shoe string or thick wedges, but dare I say, just right – enough thickness for a crispy outer leaving just enough softness inside. It’s the chicken salt that does it for me, plenty of salty, flavoursome goodness.
Kafta skewers are served de-skewered, these shinny lamb mince delights are bulbous and strongly spiced and come with plenty of salad. Kafta can be a little dry at other places, here, they’re just the way I like them thick, moist and spicy.
Falafel here are on the rounder side with a hard crispy outer, once you break through, the filling is thick, rich and soft – much denser and hearty than other places.
All that protein needs to be cut with tabouli zestiness – fresh mint, tomato and of course lemon juice. A mouthful cleanses the palate, ready for more mouth-watering Lebanese goodness.
Feeling adventurous? Chicken liver is pretty popular, here it’s lightly fried, spices added and drizzled with lemon juice to help cut the dense texture. It’s not for everyone, but obviously the punters love it, eat in, takeway or even have it as meat filling in a kebab.
The western suburbs is sooo responsible for making Sydney fall in love with Lebanese chicken, think El Janah or Franks. Noodlies thinks Al Barakeh is right up there, fantastic adult tasting chicken with toum that is the best in town. The other Lebanese standards are pretty top notch too, falafel, kafta, tabouli etc. But you get some pleasant surprises too like chicken liver kebab. Matched with efficient and genuinely friendly service, this place is a winner in our books.
No wonder they’re expanding, in a few months this little 30-seater will double in size when it expands to the left to fit in another 30 seats. They’ll be sticking with the popular menu, but noodlies hears there might be one or two additions… like “chicken ribs” – watch this space.
Al Barakeh Charcoal Chicken
77 Scott St, Liverpool
(02) 9602 6204
Daily 10.30am – 10pm