Sunday, 30 March 2014

El Jannah - Granville - Sydney, Australia.

El Jannah 

The smell of the charcoal chicken can be smelt from a mile away. When I use to live in the south-west and took the train home from the City, it would pass by Granville station and when the doors of the train opened, the smell of the the fragrant chicken cooking lingered in the air and that made me crave for chicken. I've always wanted to go to the restaurant as everyone who has been there has recommended it and raved on about how good it was.

It took me many years to get there and finally last weekend, we made it. Yay! After the Cake, Bake and Sweets Show at Olympic Park, we had trouble on deciding where to eat but as El Jannah in Granville was on the way back home, we decided to go there.

A few of my friends have never tried Lebanese charcoal chicken so that was another reason to go there. How could they have never tried Lebanese chicken? I, myself, was shocked. I often get teased by my lovely friends as to how I pronounce El Jannah as I tend to drag out the ahhhhhh and we all tend to make a joke out of it.

El Jannah is one very popular place and it has been for as long as I've known about it being open. They specialise in charcoal chicken and Lebanese cuisine. It's a family owned business, with the first branch being open in Granville and they've also expanded to Punchbowl and Blacktown. Many people travel good distances just to try their food so thankfully they've opened up more outlets.

The restaurant itself is fairly big as it appears to occupy two shop spaces so there is plenty of seating. It's a casual restaurant so don't expect premium service or a posh setting.

We arrived at around 3pm on a Saturday and there were still so many diners there at that hour. It was scorching hot with no air conditioning, yet there were plenty of diners eating in. We were perspiring just sitting there and I had my packet of tissue out wiping my sweat. Yes, not the most pleasant but well worth it.

The menu is rather limited and simple but most come here just for the charcoal chicken. It costs more to eat the charcoal chicken in house compared to take-away as you get additional items like pickles and bread. After indulging in decadent samples of sweets and cakes at the show, we definitely did not hold back on ordering here.

The 'Whole Chicken ($19.90)' comes with side of garlic sauce, pickles and 4 bags of Lebanese bread.  I'm a big fan of garlic sauce and their version of the garlic sauce was so creamy and smooth, an absolute winner. The pickles were very sour but that's how they are supposed to be. They were tried but most of it was left untouched.

The charcoal chicken was fresh and perfectly charred. The smell of the herbs and charcoal was just beautiful. The chicken was wonderfully flavoured, leaving a salty crispy skin and the meat was still tender and juicy. Though some bits were partially a bit overcooked leaving burnt bits.

'Large Chips ($6.00)' with sprinkled with chicken salt and was deliciously crispy and crunchy with the right amount of seasoning. We got a surprise at the size of the bowl but amazingly we finished it all. So addictive and satisfying at the same time.

The 'Falafel Plate ($4.50)' is excellent value. Three pieces of deep fried falafel made with ground chick peas, served with an assortment of sides. Still fresh and hot from the fryer leaving a nice exterior that was golden brown. It was nice but didn't compare to the delicious chicken.

Miss J recommended the 'Baba Ganouj ($5.50)' which is an eggplant dip. She notes it as being one of the best she has tried and I definitely agree with her. It was wonderfully smooth and had a hint of smokiness, which went well with the bread.

To balance our meal, we ordered some greens to be more 'healthy'. The 'Tabouli Salad ($5.50) was overly sour with the abundance of lemon in the dressing which I didn't like very much but that's my personal preference. But it left us feeling less guilty after this huge meal.

A satisfying and wholesome meal all for $48.90 between four people including drinks. An absolute bargain considering the amount we ate. There was no dinner for us after this big lunch.

Food is affordable and I hear it is consistently good. Will definitely visit again in the future if in the area. Lunch and dinner does get busy so expect to wait as customers pour in and as some say it becomes 'hectic'.

4-6 South St
Granville NSW 2142

Phone no: 02 9637 0977

Opening Hours
Monday - Saturday
10:00am - 12:00am
10:00am - 11:00pm


El Jannah on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Gimgane - Myeongdong - Seoul, South Korea.


After a few searches on Google, I finally found the English name of this restaurant. Google never ceases to amaze me with its superb searching capabilities.

For our first dinner in Seoul we couldn't decide on what to eat given our lack of knowledge on what was good and what was not. It's not easy finding a recommended restaurant in Korea, so we thought that could wait till the next day, when we became more familiar with the place. There are a plethora of options available in Myeongdong but after a long, tiring flight, our sense of taste was near non-existent.  We even contemplated on going to KFC but how could we go to KFC when we can have that back home. Though, I hear it is much better than what we have available in Australia.

After walking a few laps around the area, we saw a cosy, little restaurant on the same street and a few buildings away from McDonald's and KFC. From the outside, it looked fairly busy and there were many locals who ate in so that was a good sign.

There was a menu outside and the options looked appealing, so we decided to give it a try and walked in. It was nice to be able to escape the chilly cold and be in the perfectly heated room.

Gimgane is casual Korean restaurant run by a Korean family. I only just found out that they are a franchise so there are many branches throughout Korea. They specialise in noodles, kimbap and rice dishes. They have a lady at the front of the restaurant making fresh kimbap which looks like sushi. Everything is good value and inexpensive.

Table water, cutlery, tissue and kimchi is all self-serve. I really liked the kimchi here as it was crunchy and wonderfully flavoured with the right amount of spice.

Love the cartoon pictures of the Korean dishes in the menu which makes ordering much much easier as the staff don't speak much English. So you can just point and they will know.

The 'Soft Tofu Ramen (4500 KRW)' is the best comfort food in the chilly cold, topped with clams, kimchi, chilli's, soft tofu and shallots.The soup is piping hot and steaming with smoke, it just warms your body instantly. The noodles are like the instant noodles you get in those packets, but that's how Koreans usually have their ramen. It is cooked well in that it is springy and still a bit chewy.  The star of the dish was definitely the melt in your mouth tofu which was so smooth and silky.

'Spicy Seafood Ramen (4500 KRW)' is very similar to the soft tofu ramen. It uses the same type of noodles but the toppings are different. The stock is much spicier and there are more vegetables. A bit too much onion but I still really enjoyed it.

The staff are friendly and service is very prompt and efficient. Don't expect superior service here as it is a casual restaurant that offers authentic Korean meals at very affordable prices.

45-1, Myeongdong 1-ga,
Jung-gu, Seoul
South Korea

Phone no: 02 777 7879

Opening Hours


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Myeongdong - Seoul - South Korea, Korea


After a long flight from Singapore to South Korea taking approximately 6 and a half hours, we finally touched down and boy, was it tiring. Seoul was absolutely freezing cold with temperatures hovering around the 0 degree to 5 degree mark. Brrrrrr.

The best way of getting from Incheon International Airport to downtown Seoul is via the airport limousine bus as it is convenient and cost effective at 10,000 KRW, taking approximately an hour and a half, traffic permitting. The reclining seats are comfy and leg room is spacious. It also appears to be the transportation of choice for passengers travelling to the city as services are frequent and they stop a number of locations. Another popular mode is the Airport Railroad Express (AREX) rail line or the regular train as it is cheap and you can avoid the traffic jams but then it can be confusing for the first timer to Seoul. A taxi is the easiest of the lot as it offers a door to door service but it costs a lot more and you might have to pay hidden fees such as tolls. We alighted at Myeongdong and walked to our hotel just a few minutes away.

It was a big challenge to navigate around the city as their roads and streets are very confusing or it may have been the map we were using that had missing street names. Having travelled to a number of countries, I have found that that most places have easy to read signage and you can pin point where you are. But here, we had trouble finding restaurants and places of interest and circled around areas many times before actually finding a place. Yet, their metro system was really easy to use and you can easily get from one place to another thankfully. 

Myeongdong is one of the primary shopping regions in Seoul and was named one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. It is heavily populated with tourists and is highly popular with locals.

There are plenty of shops from the big name department stores, international retailers to little boutique stores. The dining options here are plentiful such the regular fast food restaurants you find in America, family owned restaurants, western restaurants and a number of Asian restaurants that specialise in different cuisines. 

Streets are lined with fashion stores, cafes, restaurants and beauty/cosmetic stores. Every second or third store is a cosmetic stall literally. They even have staff standing outside trying to bring you into their store with free samples. Getting additional free samples is considered normal and the more you spend the more you get. I love freebies :) Korean brands such as The Face Shop, Nature Republic, Laneige and Innisfree are reputable and have good quality products. Most stores don't open till 11am and close at around 10pm.

Street food is literally everywhere. It is available on every corner and the variety on offer is practically endless. There is just way too much to try and if you're game enough, there are things you may have never seen.Street vendors bring out their food carts and set up stores along the shop front as night approaches from about 5pm. It gets extremely crowded at night as it seems to be the 'IT' place to hang around. 

The 'Twisted Potato Chip (2000 KRW)' is a sliced, twisted and swirled potato that is deep fried and then coated in a cheese flavoured salt. Crunchy and delicious.

'Handmade Sugar Candy (1000 KRW)' is handmade of white sugar, then caramelised until golden brown. I looked on with fascination as the lady made shapes and characters. It tasted like burnt sugar but was strangely addictive. 

The 'Green Tea Red Bean Korean Pancake (1500 KRW)' is a popular Korean street snack. In Myeongdong, I noticed a few scattered about here and there. A green tree flavoured glutinous rice pastry that is filled with brown sugar and peanuts, which is then deep fried. Comfort food at its finest in the winter season.

There was this mochi stall in front of the hotel we stayed at that had a queue every single day without fail, from when if opened to when it closed. On certain days, it sold out even before closing time.  'Strawberry Mochi (KRW 2000)' is a mochi filled ball with a whole strawberry and red bean filling. A bit sweet for me.

'Flat Bread with Brown Sugar (1000 KRW)' is my favourite street food of the lot. On the side of the street, there was this mini truck, where a man was rolling out fresh dough at the back and then toasting in an oven of some sort, which left me curious as to what it was. Selling food from trucks is normal so don't be alarmed. The bread was crispy on the exterior and oil free, it was absolutely divine.

A short walk from Myeongdong takes you to Namdaemun Market, the largest traditional market in Korea with more than 10,000 stores selling a range of goods such as clothes, souvenirs, ginseng, food and accessories at affordable prices.

The 'Chinese Buns (KRW 1000)' caught our attention as there were so many people queuing up and people tend to line up for delicious food. Pork and vegetables enclosed in a soft steamed flour bun was well worth the wait. 

Myeongdong is full of life and buzzing with excitement. It's a must visit destination if you're in Seoul as there is plenty to see and do.

Myeongdong Station
Seoul Subway Line 4
Exit 5, 6, 7 or 8