Dining Out 3 minutes 09 November 2017

Top 5 Spots for Ayam Penyet if You're Feeling Peckish

Here's a compiled list for ayam penyet in Singapore so you don't have to wing it.

Malay and Indonesian fried chicken Street Food

This Indonesian delicacy is a local favourite for a good reason; it's downright tasty. Ayam penyet is Javanese for 'smashed chicken' and is so named for the fowl getting gently crushed in mortar with a pestle or metal hammer as witnessed from some stalls – an action that's supposed to make the meat more tender. The chicken is then fried to a deliciously golden crisp and paired with polished white rice, sambal belacan, tofu and tempeh (Indonesian fermented soybean cakes).

Here are five spots we head to when we're craving the dish.

Ayam Penyet Ria
Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Road, #01-45. List of other locations found here.
Opening hours: 11am to 10pm, daily.

Ask anyone for a recommendation on where to go for the Indonesian chicken rice and the chances are that you'll be pointed in the direction of Ayam Penyet Ria. They opened their first restaurant in Lucky Plaza in 2005 and have since expanded to three other locations – Far East Plaza, Jurong Point and Bedok Mall. In Lucky Plaza alone, they've got two outlets, one on the first floor and the other, on the fourth. Customers should expect lengthy queues on the weekends and during mealtimes.

Their ayam penyet is better than decent, with the chicken's skin crisp and the meat succulent. Each serving of chicken comes with all the fix-ins; generous mound of white rice, blanched kang kong (read: water spinach), cabbage, slices of cucumbers, fried tofu, tempeh and depending on the customer's tolerance for spice, spoons or a spoon of tremendously spicy sambal belacan. Ardent fans of chili will be pleased.
Indonesia's penyet dishes are attributed to Surabaya, the capital city of East Java.
Indonesia's penyet dishes are attributed to Surabaya, the capital city of East Java.
Warung Surabaya Ayam Penyet
Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Road, #02-063/064
Opening hours: 12pm to 8.45pm, daily.

Also housed in Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road is Warung Surabaya. This unassuming restaurant specialising in ayam penyet is tucked away in a cosy corner away from the crowd but foodies know just where to find them. The beauty of their chicken lies in the aromatic mix it is cooked and marinated in, which sings of lemongrass, galangal, turmeric and ginger. And of course, no ayam penyet is complete without a dollop of sambal belacan; Warung Surabaya's, which packs a hearty, spicy punch, is not for the faint-hearted.
Instead of tempeh and tofu Rayyan’s Waröeng Penyet serves theirs with a salad of fresh and cooked greens
Instead of tempeh and tofu Rayyan’s Waröeng Penyet serves theirs with a salad of fresh and cooked greens
Rayyan’s Waröeng Penyet
121 Telok Ayer St, Tanjong Pagar
Opening hours: 7am to 3.30pm, Mon to Wed. 7am to 4pm, Thurs & Fri. Closed on the weekends.

They’ve been open for little over a year on Telok Ayer street but they’ve already garnered a loyal following. The chicken here is a standout; the meat is supremely tender and juicy, which is the result of boiling the chicken in a flavourful broth of aromatics before dunking it into the deep fryer. Customers that visit will realise that while the ayam penyet here is tasty, it is hardly the traditional Indonesian version we’re accustomed to.

Owner Nornizam bin Amin assures us that this is intentional. “I’m not Indonesian and I don’t claim to cook authentic Indonesian food,” he tells us. “This recipe is two years in the making and my only goal is to make delicious food. Everything in my ayam penyet is there because I think it is tasty and because my customers like it.” His rice is cooked with pandan, coconut milk and garlic and comes topped with a sprinkle of serundeng (a spicy Indonesian floss of sautéed grated coconut), which subtly enhances the flavours of the rice. Rayyan’s Waröeng Penyet is only open for lunch so the lines can get pretty daunting but fret not, the queue moves fast and the gains are worth it.
Don't confuse tempeh with tofu. Tempeh is minimally processed using whole soybeans, while tofu is made by coagulating soy milk.
Don't confuse tempeh with tofu. Tempeh is minimally processed using whole soybeans, while tofu is made by coagulating soy milk.
Sri Bistari Changi Village Famous Ayam Penyet
102 Joo Chiat Road, #01-01
Opening hours: 11am to 11pm, daily.

They've since moved on from Changi Village to set up base at Joo Chiat Road, Bedok North and Yishun but the quality of their ayam penyet remains status quo. Their smashed chicken is well-cooked and tasty and their sambal belacan, which is sweeter than it is spicy, has garnered itself legions of fans. But what really makes Sri Bistari's ayam penyet stand out is the care that goes into its rice. Premium jasmine rice is cooked in a chicken stock along with various other aromatics, which results in a flavourful rice reminiscent of a beloved hawker dish    Hainanese chicken rice. 

Ayam Penyet President
Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Road, #03-36/37. List of other locations found here
Opening hours: 11.30am to 9:30pm, Mon to Fri. 11am to 9:30pm, Sat & Sun.

Here’s another joint located at the truly lucky Lucky Plaza. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. But if Orchard Road is a little out of the way, take your pick from their five other outlets around the town. Naturally, their namesake ayam penyet is a dish you can't miss out on but the restaurant has a veritable menu of other dishes that are worth ordering too. Make it a meal with a bowl of bakso (Indonesian meatball soup), gado-gado (an Indonesian salad of vegetables, eggs, potatoes, fried tofu and tempeh served with a peanut sauce) and tahu telor (tofu or bean curd omelette served with peanuts and a spicy-sweet sauce).

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