Literally “smashed chicken”, ayam penyet is a relatively new culinary phenomenon in Singapore. This Indonesian dish is said to originate from Surabaya.
Made using small, kampong (free-range) chicken, the meat is first marinated with various herbs and spices. Then, it is smashed with a hammer - presumably to loosen and tenderise the meat - before deep-frying.
Typically, ayam penyet is served as a set with a quarter portion of chicken, fried tempeh (fermented soy bean cake), fried beancurd, crunchy golden batter bits, chilli sambal, boiled kangkong, fresh cabbage, and rice.
Hungry already? Read our taste test to find out where to get smashingly good ayam penyet!
Opening hours: Daily: 11:30am-9pm
Price: $6.00 (additional $0.80 for plain rice)
The ingredients used are essentially the same, but what sets Resto Surabaya apart from their peers are great execution and attention to minute details.
The chicken is flavourful and well-marinated with a delightful fragrance of spices. Freshly fried, the skin is crisp and not oily. Same goes for the crispy bits of batter. Crunchy, fine and airy, the addictive fritter bits pairs exceedingly well with fluffy rice.
Even the tempeh and beancurd are beautifully fried, with thin, crispy exteriors and moist insides. Fresh, zingy, and brimming with complexity, the chilli is blazingly hot but oh so shiok!
Opening hours: Daily: 12pm-9pm
This is the franchise that sparked the ayam penyet trend. As of now, they are the most established brand with several branches across the island.
When they are good, they’re at the top of the game. Unfortunately, quality can be inconsistent at times. The bird is nicely marinated and fried, resulting in fragrant, moist meat and non-oily skin. But at times, it can be a tad over-fried, leaving the exterior slightly dry.
Light and crunchy, their crispy batter is well executed. Their chilli is strong in the belachan department. Those who prefer belachan might enjoy it, but we prefer Resto Surabaya’s zestier version.
From experience, their food tastes better during peak hours, when turnover is high. But during non-peak hours, some items are left sitting for too long, like our tempeh and beancurd which arrived cold and hard.
Opening hours: Daily: 11am-9pm
Price: $6.00 (additional $0.50 for plain rice)
Here, diners can choose between thigh or breast meat, and mild or hot chilli. We opted for thigh - typically more tender than breast - but even then, it was slightly dry and stringy. Thankfully, it wasn’t greasy. The meat was well-marinated, but on the salty side.
As for their chilli, the mild version is sweetish and ketchup-y, while the hot version is numbingly spicy. They are very generous with their fragrant and crumbly batter bits. A bowl of soup is included, perhaps to wash down their exceedingly dry rice.
Hits and misses make this a decent ayam penyet, but not one we’d make a special trip for.
Opening hours: Daily: 7am-11pm
There are numerous ayam penyet stalls in this food centre, but Nur Indah stands out with long queues during lunch and dinner hours. Perhaps their draw is serving rice cooked with chicken stock instead of plain rice.
At first glance, their hearty portions seem like great value. They serve a generous mound of moist, mildly-flavoUred chicken rice. The chicken is a large piece of tender and juicy meat, especially if you request for the thigh portion. However, the marinade lacked sufficient fragrance. Taste-wise, it was rather salty, and the skin was very greasy.
The crispy batter was overly oily, hard, and salty - a total epic fail. The tempeh and beancurd were also over-fried. Slightly watery and lacking complexity, the chilli could definitely do with more fine-tuning, much like other components of this dish.
Opening hours: Daily: 10am-10pm
Presentation and value-wise, this ayam penyet scores low. The chicken is a tiny piece of meat smashed till very flat and loose. The tempeh is a pathetic-looking, shriveled sliver.
Surprisingly, the chicken tastes better than it looks. The skin isn’t oily, and the meat isn’t dry. However, it still needs more spices for fragrance. The flat-tasting chicken has to rely on the accompanying chilli for much-needed flavoUr.
The chilli is sweet and spicy, much like a sticky chilli jam. It’s quite more-ish if you like this style of chilli. This stall is a branch of the popular Sri Bistari chain, but their ayam penyet is a sorry interpretation of this delightful culinary creation.
inSing.com made anonymous visits and paid for its own meals at the stalls featured here.
See where reviewers recommend for ayam penyet in Singapore