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Ask Mr. Gold: Live-Poultry Markets

Dear Mr. Gold,

I am intrigued by the live-chicken places I’ve seen around Chinatown and elsewhere. Do you know if these shops produce tasty and healthful poultry?

—Honor, Los Feliz

Dear Honor:

It can be disconcerting buying chickens at the live-poultry markets in Chinatown. While you are not obligated to look at the chicken you go home with — and most people don’t — there is still the discomfiting feeling that the animal was killed just for you. They tend to be pretty smelly places, and they’re not used to non-Chinese customers, some of whom tend to freak out before consummating the sale. And the chickens they sell are fairly large creatures, better suited to stews and red-cooked dishes than to roasting or frying. I have been to both Canton Poultry and Superior Poultry, both on Broadway, and they seem pretty similar — if an old-fashioned coq au vin is on the menu, a sturdily built chicken is just the ticket.

Still, on the rare occasions when a ?robust chicken is on my shopping list, I ?am usually drawn to the relatively more ?sedate shop Al-Salam, on Whittier in the Boyle Heights area, a big halal butcher that also does a trade in rabbit, turkey and quail, and has a huge, devoted clientele of both Mexicans and Muslims. You can’t miss it — just look for ?the giant chicken. 3980 E. Whittier Blvd., ?Los Angeles.