Directly opposite Tesco in Semenyih town, lies the Indonesian-Malay fusion restaurant called Restoran Ayam Penyet Best, otherwise known as Ayam Penyet Jawa. As the name suggests, its specialty is the well-loved Indonesian dish, Ayam Penyet, which is Javanese for “smashed fried chicken”. It was a quick drive from campus to the restaurant and its surrounding area provided ample parking lots. There was an indoor and outdoor area, although the partition separating the two had no door. That being so, the open-aired design offered the familiar Malay restaurant atmosphere we know, but much cleaner.
When the waitress arrived, she gave a sweet smile and handed us the menus. The inner walls held a huge display of their most recommended items. Other than that, the restaurant also offers special deals for lunch set meals for an affordable price. They serve a good variety of dishes here including the famous Indonesian delicacies such as Gado-Gado (Indonesian salad) and various types of Bakso soup (Indonesian meatballs). In the end, we decided to go for the set meals available: The Combo Set (RM10.50), which allows you to choose your main protein from a list of choices, and the classic Penyet Set (RM9.90). Both came with steamed rice and a glass of Teh O’ Ais (Iced Tea). You can also swap your tea for a bowl of fish soup if you prefer.
The first Combo Set we ordered was a Malay delicacy, Asam Pedas Ikan Pari (Stingray cooked in spicy-sour gravy). This dish took the longest time to arrive but it reached our table piping hot. Though it did not impress presentation-wise as the bowl was smaller than expected and there was no sign of chopped okra and brinjal pieces commonly present in the dish. However, the dish was quite flavourful. The stingray was fresh, with just a hint of chewiness, and the tanginess of the thick gravy complemented it wonderfully. This dish was only mildly spicy, but just enough to draw out the gravy’s rich flavours.
The next Combo Set meal we ordered came with the Rendang Sapi Asli Padang (Beef cooked in Padang-Rendang style). If you’re wondering what “Padang” means, it is a type of cuisine named after the central city in West Sumatra. It came with a reasonable amount of beef chunks that were soft and tender. The rendang was easily distinctive from Malay-style rendang as it tasted more “curried”, but still very well-flavoured from the spices and coconut milk, making this dish a true winner.
The following dish was the reason we came for – the Ayam Penyet Best! (or as they claimed). Along with the chicken and rice, the dish is served on a banana leaf with a piece of fried Tempeh (Fermented soybean cake), a fried bean curd cube, chilli sambal, fresh cabbage and long beans. The sambal, like every good Indonesian-style chili, was strong and a sure favourite to anyone who loves the incessant burning sensation in your tongue after taking only a teaspoon of it. The crispy batter bits sprinkled on top of the chicken was also addictively crunchy, well-fried and not oily. However, the chicken was a little too shrunken and dry from being over-fried, but nonetheless fragrant with fresh spices and well-seasoned.
It wasn’t “the best” Ayam Penyet we’ve tried. But the other dishes impressed me enough to want to come back for more. Aside from the classic we ordered, the restaurant also offers a wide variety of other Penyet such as prawn, beef and even Lele (catfish)! Overall, the restaurant’s friendly ambience, good food and affordable prices gave us a wonderful experience. So take a break from your usual lunch place and give this place a try!
Written by Marybeth Chang
Photos by Leon Tan Ben Lee
No. 41, Jalan Tps 1/3, Taman Pelangi Semenyih, Bandar Rinching Seksyen 5, Semenyih.