Quarter chicken and chips: $11.50 (chicken dim sim, $3; potato cake, $1.50; small scalloped potatoes, $7; small gravy, $4.50; banana fritter, $3)
We crown Centre Charcoal Chicken in Bentleigh the best charcoal chicken shop in Melbourne. Of all the chickens, Centre Charcoal Chicken’s has the most pronounced smokiness from being rotated over coal for an hour and 20 minutes, culminating in crisp skin and moist flesh. The Lilydale free-range chicken is marinated in housemade chicken salt, the very same that generously seasons the chips that come straight out of the deep fryer, which are fluffy with good crunch. The gravy is smooth and velvety with strong peppery undertones that complement everything we dunk into it, from the rice bubble-coated sweet chilli chicken strips to the creamy scalloped potatoes interspersed with diced fried bacon. Dimmy fans will also be pleased to know there are chicken dim sims here with thick battered exteriors and ample cabbage. Centre Charcoal Chicken does a roaring takeaway business, but there are a few tables inside and outside for those who would rather eat their chicken fresh. If you don’t feel like chicken, this place is equally known for lamb gyros meat – also cooked over charcoal.