It would be easy to whiz by Jerusalem Chicken on Slauson, even though the baby blue hues of the building stand out from others quite nicely. The cuisine also sets it apart, a Palestinian chicken joint among restaurants at an intersection dominated by the Cajun and Creole foods of Louisiana. Even the previous tenant was a Louisiana-style chicken joint.
But Palestinian chicken you say? Fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm be prepared: underneath the name of this new restaurant is the succinct description “Palestinian Chicken Eatery.” Thankfully it was not noticed until well after parking, as it could have definitely led to laughter and accidents back on the street. It was more fun to imagine owner humor rather than know the truth so no inquiries were made.
After noticing the opening at the beginning of February, a trip was necessary just because some of the offerings were usually only found on Brookhurst Street in Anaheim’s Little Arabia. The fast casual nature of the restaurant did not quite inspire high hopes, but surprisingly the kitchen really excels here. It is also appreciated that a Palestinian owner has decided to claim the city of Jerusalem. Almost exclusively that is found in restaurant names of Kosher restaurants in this country.
The first hint of delicious things to come was when an order of a side dish and one sandwich both got separate pans going on the grill. You may have options for toppings eventually like a Subway once your chicken is cooked, but this is actually eating fresh.
Always a sucker for good ful medames, an order of the J-foohl ($7.99, above) was not passed up. These slow-cooked fava beans are full of garlic, onion, cumin, and lemon aroma, and come topped with chickpeas and a pickled slaw. The usual sourness is slightly turned down from normal, and the thick “dip” is easy to pick up with the provided pitas.
On this first visit just sticking toes into the water, an easy sandwich order called for the chicken fakir ($8.99, below). As mentioned, the pieces of good dark meat are cooked in a pan when ordered, combined with onions, bell peppers, and plenty of spicing before getting stuffed into a pita.
At this point they will ask you what you would like inside your sandwich, and a thick lather of the spicy garlic sauce is recommended. Add some pickled turnips and taboula or salata for a refreshing crisp crunch in every bite.
Although there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options available, and thankfully vegetarian Middle Eastern food is always very delicious, this is a chicken joint through and through. After this tasty first sandwich, things were looking hopeful enough for a return to try more.
Always having only seen this referred to as musakhan, a plate of emsakhan ($11.99, above) was the feature of a second visit. While the dish is popular throughout the Levant, it is considered Palestinian and sometimes is even referred to as the national dish.
The chicken is pan-roasted in plenty of its juices, sumac, and spices. When served it is put on top of a round piece of taboon bread and completely covered by a layer of sauteed onions. These meals are fun with friends and family because the size of the plate and bread (and everything else) is always adjusted to the amount of people. Meant to be eaten by hand, gather around a table and dig in!
Jerusalem Chicken, 4448 W. Slauson Avenue, View Park-Windsor Hills