Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Zankou Chicken

Zankou Chicken is a small, family-owned chain of Armenian and Middle-Eastern fast casual restaurants within LA. Its specialty is rotisserie chicken served with a garlic paste and pita bread but also serves middle-eastern favorites such as hummus, falafel, and shawarma.
The first Zankou Chicken opened in 1962 in the Bourj Hammoud neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon, by Armenian Vartkes Iskenderian and his family. The chain was established within the United States in 1983 by his son, Mardiros Iskenderian, after the family immigrated to Los Angeles, California. The first restaurant in Los Angeles is still located in Hollywood, California at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Normandie Avenue. The restaurant's famous garlic sauce was created by Vartkes' wife, Markrid.

On January 14, 2003, after a heated argument, Zankou Chicken owner Mardiros Iskenderian shot and killed his sister, Dzovig Marjik, and his mother Margarit Iskenderian; he then took his own life in a double-murder suicide. It is believed that Mardiros was in the late stages of colon and brain cancer, which might have affected his mental faculties.

Despite the family drama, the chain has expanded to 9 restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area; the second Zankou Chicken opened in Glendale (2 locations), followed by Van Nuys, Anaheim, Pasadena, Burbank, and West Los Angeles, as well as a branch in Montebello opened by the same part of the family that still owns the original Hollywood branch.

We went to the Anaheim location on a Saturday for lunch.  I love rotisserie chicken and was looking forward to trying the famous garlic sauce.  We ordered the half chicken plate which came with beet salad, hummus, and pita bread.  The chicken was good but the garlic sauce was beyond amazing.  I wanted to dip everything in it!  It had a hint of lemon, was thick and went especially well with the chicken.  If this is indicative of Armenian food, I have a new found love for it.  With the multiple locations, its hard to come up with an excuse not to try this restaurant. 

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