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
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.