Mar 21 2013
Ayam penyet (literally “smashed chicken”) may technically be an Indonesian dish, but you’re more likely to find it on the menu in Singapore than in Bali. Singapore is wild for this dish of fried chicken, rice, tofu and spicy sambal, and Ayam Penyet Ria Restaurant on Orchard Road is the original source of the craze.
The name ayam penyet refers to the fact that the chicken is “smashed” with a kitchen mallet after it’s cooked – the technique is said to make the chicken tenderer and easier to eat. However they do it, ayam penyet is some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever taste with its crispy bits and incredibly spicy sambal (a paste made from chilli, tomato, garlic and shrimp paste). Only a small portion of sambal is served with each meal at Ayam Penyet Ria, but it’s enough to bring tears to your eyes.
Ayam Penyet Ria offers a classic version and a boneless version each for S$7.90 including rice and a side of veggies, fried tofu and fried tempeh. Though the chicken is the signature dish, other meats also get the “penyet” treatment including beef steak, catfish, squid, soft shell crab and prawns.
The rest of the menu includes humble Indonesian favourites like soto ayam (chicken soup), bakso (beef ball soup) and otak otak (fish cakes). The gado gado (a salad-like creation of cucumber, bean sprouts, hard-boiled egg and potato) is especially good here and comes with prawn crackers to scoop up the delicious peanut sauce. It’s also perfect for cooling your mouth after eating the sambal.
As good as the food may be, Ayam Penyet Ria is a simple restaurant with plastic tables and not a lot of atmosphere. Customers are given a picture menu to help them decide, then fill out a paper ordering form and pre-pay at the cashier (cash only). This does help keep costs down and nothing on the menu is more than S$9. Considering its location in the prime of Orchard Road, this is excellent value.
Ayam Penyet Ria is so popular that it has two locations in Lucky Plaza, an aging shopping centre known for shops selling products from Indonesia and the Philippines. Avoid coming on Sundays which is a day off for the thousands of Indonesian migrant workers in Singapore and many of them show up for lunch — a testament to its value and authenticity.
Ayam Penyet Ria Restaurant
#01-45 / 04-25 Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Road, Singapore
Nearest MRT: Orchard Road
Open daily 11:00–22:00
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