NASI ayam penyet may have originated from Indonesia, but this traditional Javanese meal is certainly well-loved by Malaysians, having made its way to our shores.
The star of this dish is chicken that is fried to a perfect crispy brown, served with red-hot savoury sambal.
The word “penyet”, an Indonesian word for smashed, refers to the cooked chicken being further “tenderised” with a pestle before being served alongside the rice.
Some cooks sprinkle the chicken with bumbu kuning, a blend of fried spices and seasoning such as ginger, turmeric, galangal, nutmeg and pepper, to enhance the aroma and flavour of the dish.
In Klang Valley, the Ayam Penyet Best restaurant chain offers traditional food enthusiasts a chance to taste this delicacy.
With 11 branches in the region, there are plenty of places for diners to choose from.
I recently went with a friend to a branch located on the first floor of Aeon Mall in Taman Maluri, Cheras.
We ordered the Ayam Penyet Best (RM12.50) which comes with fried chicken, fried tofu and tempe as well as spicy sambal.
As someone who loves spicy food, the sambal was a perfect addition to the chicken, which was crispy on the outside and tender enough on the inside.
The banana leaf on which the dish was served gave it a rustic, kampung feel, which I particularly enjoyed.
The menu here is not limited to chicken as the restaurant has diversified its offerings to include fish and beef too.
If you prefer fish, you could order the Ikan Kembong Balado (RM11.90) instead.
Unlike the ayam penyet sambal, the balado sambal had a bit of sweetness to it, which went great with the fried mackerel.
I wanted to try the meat dish so I ordered the Empal Penyet (RM15), which featured deep-fried beef.
My friend and I ended up trying all three dishes. The beef was my favourite.
All these dishes come with sliced cucumber and salad, but I wanted to try other vegetables too, so I ordered the Terong Balado (RM8.90).
This dish, which is fried eggplants served with some sambal, was sweet and sour, a perfect addition to the rice, which you order separately.
For something lighter and sweeter, I tried the Gado Gado Best (RM10.50).
This salad comprised steamed vegetables served alongside hard-boiled eggs, fried tofu and tempe. They were all slathered with a sweet kuah kacang.
Overall, this restaurant is a good choice if you are looking for a new place to have lunch or dinner with family and friends.
Ayam Penyet Best in Taman Maluri Aeon Mall operates daily from 10am to 10pm.
For details about its other branches, visit www.ayampenyet best.com or its Facebook page.