Ayam Penyet used to be the “food trend” 2-3 years back in Singapore.And ever since,Ayam Penyet brands has been mushrooming all over. Now with so many choices to choose from, how do we differentiate the best from the rest?
And so here I am… in one of the popular Ayam Penyet franchise in Singapore.
Located in Marine Parade, this was also the first Ayam Penyet branch that I went to years back. Nothing much has changed as I noticed upon entering the modern cafe layout. It’s chic, light friendly vibes surrounds the cool air-conditioned restaurant. Went there around 4pm, to avoid the bustling lunch crowd. Background Indon modern tunes seems to be echoing the restaurant jostling my awkward joints to sway just a little bit.
Met one of the owner, Arief, a young spirited Indonesian businessman. As he introduced the restaurant menu, I noticed many plaques of TV shows featuring this small warong. It seems to be very popular with the local and neighbouring media.
As he further indulged me in the food, my ears suddenly alert itself and prick at the slightest sensitive information, he has to offer. This restaurant specialise in Java food. They have been going strong for 3+ years and have many regular customers.The recipes are authentically Javanese and some spices are imported from Indonesia.
The restaurant concept here is more of self-service.Write down your own order and present it and pay at the counter. Well, with the lightness of it all, I can easily swayed in and out like my own home. And if you have special preferences, do inform them early so that they can accommodate e.g You can opt for special chicken parts.
Arief also explain the origins of Penyet. Penyet is not only referring to its “smashed chicken” but it’s actually referring to the way Indonesians eat the Ayam Penyet with the rice using their fingers nibbling thru the food and “penyet-ting” the meat into smaller morsels to fit the mouth. And originally, the cabbies are the one who indulge in its humble penyet fare. And it started out with only tofu and tempeh,completely vegetarian and slowly meat are added as more people are hooked on them.
We ordered some food and continue conversing about the wonderful affairs of Indonesian rich culinary world.
When I asked him what was his favourite food in the Waroeng? He replied modestly, “Empal Penyet.” I was fascinated by his answer because I assumed that he rather have the chicken penyet since it is very likable by many.
Truth be told, I am also quite skeptical cos the last time I had empal penyet(years ago too) , it wasn’t a good experience. It was in some small hawker stall,somewhere. The empal (beef slices) was too dry and kinda hard..that I feel, if I were to flung it out, it will come back some what like the Aussie Boomerang. Luckily, I had totally forgotten about that “lucky” stall.Cos, I might try throwing it out (probably crashed into some glass wall or “beheaded” some innocent passers-by..oops) and see if it ever returns…*chuckles
As I interviewed, I realised that the people in Waroeng Penyet is quite actively experimenting with many different ingredients and trying to come up with many new recipes.They listened to their customers and improve on any constructive criticisms given.They are constantly upgrading themselves to meet the demanding quality and high standards of dining.To them ,change is good.
First set of food that greeted me was the Happy Soda, Sayur Asem and the “Combo set” Penyet. Happy Soda is somewhat a carbonated bandung (rose syrup and milk) drink.It was light and not that sweet which I like.Although,it doesn’t seem to make me bubble in happyness,I do like the jovial vibes of this small waroeng.
Wanted to try their Avocado drink to pamper my complexion. But was disappointed that it was sold out! It was made fresh…out of Indonesian avocados only. Hmm….
Sayur Asem is a tamarind veggie soup which is very popular with the ladies. As I savoured the hot broth.It reminded me of tom yam but it is much sweeter and less spicy. It was good with tiny peanuts, cabbages slices, corn and some gourd slices prancing about in the soup. I believed it kinda cool the body system down.
The combo set has a little of everything ,but it is not on the menu,yet. But I was told that it will be there after Ramadan (fasting month).I embraced it gleefully because I am intrigued by the many choices of Penyet that is on the market nowadays.
Here I was served with Bakso (deep fried meatball), Kepak (chicken wings),Telor (egg) ,Empal (beef) Penyet. What differentiate most Penyet restaurants/eateries from each other is the sambal. The authenticity’s depends on the good ole sambal (chilli dip). Here I was told there are 2 different type of sambal. Either the mild or fiery sambal. I prefer the fiery one ,it does make my eyes squint tiny tears (I have became weak..) but some customers ate them without batting an eyelid. To them it is mild spicy and wished it was even more spicy. (yikes, fireman help!)
The beefballs are bouncy and tasty.The hard boiled egg was marinated in spices and then fried. It was nice. The chicken wings are good but I prefer the chicken whole leg penyet and grilled chicken better. Empal was….ooh…soft and tender. It was fried but the meat was so tender that I was ooh..and ahhs…along the way. It was definitely an eye opener! I love it!
And I was told that the recent tv show “Makan Boomz” has actually chose their Empal penyet as the perfect winner for “Clone Penyet”. Mmm… now I understand why. I have been missing out on this empal for years!! *chuckles. Move over chicken penyet, I am in love with the Empal.
Next was the Indonesian Satay.I had to wait a little longer for this delicacy. I found this similar to one of my food rampage in my teens. I followed a fellow friend back to her Indonesia hometown and at night,we went on a food rendezvous chomping our way thru hawker food in the dark alleys. I almost cannot even see what I was served but when it enters my mouth…Oh my…it was one of the best Satay, I ever tasted, all dunked and drowned in the pool of creamy satay sauce with the lontong (rice cakes) inside.
Well, this skewered cutesy chunks of chicken meat is so juicy and tender. Once I pop in, it just swayed itself within the cavities of the mouth, massaging the palates with its tenderness and creamy satay sauce. No messy peanuts bits was found, it was seamlessly blended to a creamy smooth texture. Within seconds, all gone! It beats the Oreo advertisement in a flash- “Now u see it, now u don’t”
Lele Penyet was freshly fried on the spot. It was deliciously crispy that I believe I can just eat the tail bones off! And the white flesh…..ooh…delicately tasty.
I got a special treat from Waroeng Penyet. This Jagong bakar (grilled corns on cob) are no longer on the menu. But my eyes linger slightly longer at its delicious image on the menu. And somehow after the meal, that unintentional intention was picked up by Arief and he suggested trying some. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing cos they need to rush outside for the Asian corns. (thank-yous!)
But it was all worth it! It was very different from Malaysia Jagong bakar. It was definitely one of those special moments worth craving for. The corns are delicately charcoaled grilled and add splashes of sweet chilli .While grilling, it caramelized to give that sugary coat all over the corn.It was delicious! (Sorry you can’t taste it..you can only trust my word for it.)
Anyway, as I staggered to exit the waroeng on my full belly, I was smiling from ear to ear because I was a very satisfied customer.I shall look forward to our next “date”, Empal Penyet!
There are set meals for 2-4 pax. Will disclose the details soon.
Blk 81 Marine Parade Central
Thank you to Waroeng Penyet for this delicious happy dining…especially to Arief for taking the time to dine and unwind with me. And not forgetting the friendly staff who were serving us diligently.
Disclaimer: Food featured are subject to my personal taste. I hold no responsibility for your body’s gastronomical adventure.All food shown are either from Halal-certified or Muslim owned establishments(with no liquour/alcoholic beverages).I will try my utmost best to update and maintain the relevant information shown,insya-Allah…but your body,your responsibility.Do ensure that the Halal-certificates are up-to-date,renewed (not expired) and displayed promptly before ordering/consuming. If in doubt,always ask the staff with a smile.Remember: Use ur senses especially your heart.But mainly, ask your iman (faith). style=”font-size:78%;color:#cc0000;”>Don’t assume: A headdress/scarf lady is not equal to HALAL. “No pork no lard” signage is not equal to HALAL. A crescent moon and star symbol is not equal to HALAL. Not all Mediterranean (e.g Turkish kebab), Malaysian, Indonesian cuisines (especially Nasi Padang food) is HALAL. Whatever franchise that is HALAL in Malaysia,Indonesia or in any muslim country does not mean it is HALAL in Singapore or anywhere else. Your body,your responsibility, check its HALAL authenticity.More on disclaimer?Thank you for your kind attention.