Any conversation about rotisserie chicken in Los Angeles has to begin with Zankou Chicken, the Armenian-American yardbird empire that stretches across the city and dips down into Orange County. Their chicken and garlic sauce command lines at most hours of the day, at every location. However, Matt “Mattatouille” Kang alerted me to Sevan Chicken, which may very well serve a superior bird.
Sarkis Trashian and wife Mariam opened their first chicken coop 16 years ago in Tujunga, naming it for a town and lake in their native Armenia. They opened the Glendale location in 2001, alongside Sevan Produce. Finally, they debuted a third restaurant in Chatworth in February 2008.
Sevan sells shawerma, kebobs, falafel and chicken tacos, to name four other options, but the fast-food restaurant isn’t called Sevan Falafel or Sevan Shawerma, so best stick with the rotisserie.
The ½ Dinner Special ($6.88) featured an obscene amount of food for a shockingly low price. The chicken was at least as good as Zankou at its best. Zankou is wildly inconsistent, bone-dry one visit, succulent the next. The caramelized skin was amazing, salty and not fatty at all. The chicken fat melted into the thigh and drumstick, leading to luscious meat. The breast meat could have been a little juicier, but it’s a small quibble.
The chicken came with pita, sauce and a choice of two sides. In this case, that meant rice pilaf and hummus (a.k.a. hamous). Unfortunately, the pita was store bought, the yellow rice was pasty and the hummus was pedestrian and oily up top.
Sevan has a choice of sauce: tahini, garlic, B.B.Q., sweet & sour or salsa. In order to truly test Sevan against Zankou, there was only one viable option: garlic sauce. It was about the same as Zankou’s version, creamy, blended with finely minced garlic.
It’s a good thing Sevan’s chicken is so good, since the décor is an eyesore.