Thursday, March 7, 2013

REVIEW | Hen House Grill

Hen House Grill

Ground Chicken Koobideh (#6)
(Inside the University Park Center)
18040 Culver Drive
Irvine, CA 92612
Phone: (949) 786-2000

[will post soon]

Quick Tips:
-Legit Persian koobideh!
-Cheap + generous portions
-Free soda & Persian tea



I've passed by this place many times while shopping at Wholesome Choice (super diverse + cheap groceries + discount w/ student ID) but never really thought anything of it. It didn't look shady or anything but the storefront didn't scream WOW to me and I kinda just brushed it off as another kabob place, which I also thought of as meh-meat-on-a-stick. So when BF dragged me in to try it, needless to say I didn't have high I'm happy to say that I'm the one who drags him here!

(#6) Chicken Koobideh with Basmati Saffron Rice
(#1) Whole Rotisserie Chicken
Comes with freshly made naan-like bread
Sumac, butter, lemon, and raw red onion

Taste: I've tried the Ground Chicken Koobideh plate (#6), Whole Chicken plate (#1), Chicken Curry (#11), and Combi Chicken + Beef Koobideh (#8). The Ground Chicken Koobideh is my absolute favorite and I never get anything else when I come here (I'm a creature of habit). On our first visit, we were absolutely clueless on how to eat it. Luckily we were noticed as the clueless Asians and a fellow Persian customer instructed us on how to properly prep the plate prior to eating. The plate comes with a mound of basmati rice (the yellow rice has been flavored with Saffron) in which you dig a little well to melt the butter pat in. I personally like to cut up the grilled tomato and raw red onion and mix it into the rice as well, but I omit the sumac and lemon since the flavor's a little too strong for me. Then I rip off and stuff a piece of the naan bread with the rice mixture and some chicken. The chicken koobideh is tender, flavorful, and juicy. I found the whole rotisserie chicken a little too dry inside and the beef koobideh to be drier and lacking in flavor compared to the chicken. The chicken curry was nicely spiced and flavorful but the amount of curry drowned out the chicken. For some, Persian food may be difficult to get used to because everything's dry, except for the curry. They also give you a cup for free soda. They also have free Persian tea in which you drop sugar cubes into, but you usually have to ask.

Price: Most of the plates are around the $10-12 range and it's totally worth it since it usually lasts two meals for me. I felt the curry wasn't as worth it since it didn't come with the bread though.

Service: I've heard different things from people saying that they are ruder to non-Persians, but I've been here at least 5 times and haven't run into any incidents. During the day, they have the English-fluent younger guys running the register and they've been nothing short of friendly. Even some of the older men have made an obvious effort to welcome us non-Persians. One time I got to-go and they forgot the bread but they generously gave it to us super quick when we went back in. Regardless of ordering to-go or dining in, the 15-20 minute wait is considerably long since they grill everything to order. If you're in a rush, I would not suggest this place. 

(Left to Right) Pick-up area, front fridge with side dishes, register, kitchen (behind)

Location/Ambiance: This is absolutely a Persian hangout location and it does get loud with the chatter and Persian music videos on the TVs. I usually get it to-go on the way back from work to bring home but eating in is great because everything is hot and fresh. Lots of parking!

#1 + #6 taken to-go

Returnability: Always YES YES YES. This is my first and only experience with Persian food so I can't compare but I always get cravings for their chicken koobideh! I'm going to be so sad when I leave OC and won't have a go-to place for Persian food back in LA :(

Rating: Five out of five chicken koobidehs because their food is amazingggg and I will definitely keep coming back!

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