Cuisine fixations can start from the most negligible things; say, a fragrance that relives a memory, a TV commercial that incites curiosity, or weather that complements a dish. In my case, it was a facebook post that incites food envy. An Indonesian friend had posted photos of an Indonesian dish she had cooked.
Feeling a little fragile the morning after helping a mate undertake some well-earned celebration, I waited anxiously (and hungrily) for Ayam Goreng 99 to open for lunch so I could pick up some comfort food. I wanted me some ayam bakar! The grilled chicken, for which I have always returned, is one of the three chicken types they’re known for (grilled, fried in Jakarta style, fried in Javanese style). Call placed, I picked up our order, quickly drove home and we devoured our feast. I posted a photo to aforementioned Indo friend to show the Indo feast she’d inspired.
This was the start of a fortnight-long Indonesian food fixation, solely fixated at Ayam Goreng 99, a Kensington institution. I had my camera in tow for one of our visits.
They have a serve of 5 smallish satay sticks for $8 but this occasion, we tried the Sate Kambing Lontong, lamb skewers served on rice balls. The lamb skewers were small but they were an effective carrier device for the deliciously sweet satay sauce. The rice balls was tasteless starchy filler but broke up the sweetness of the satay. We’ll stick to just the sticks next time.
For a change, we got the Ayam Goreng Mentega, Fried Chicken in Sweet Butter Sauce. This was sinful goodness; the buttery sweetness of that thick sauce can’t be healthy.
To offset the sweet dishes, we got the Cah Kangkung, a vegetable I grew up eating and is a delicious accompaniment to rice.
All of these dishes, of course, have to be served with generous amounts of their Sambal Chilli, which they also sell in jars.
While on this particular visit, we get the sweeter dishes, the grilled chicken is a healthier option. There are also a few other well known Indo dishes (eg nasi goreng) and lesser known dishes (eg bontot ayam, oxtail soup).
The word? Excellent Indonesian food. The queue will be long but it turns over quickly, write your order on the notepad on your table and prepare for a feast. It can be as affordable or as indulgent as you wish – there’s enough variety in the dishes to complement anything you order. It’s a bit dingy but, hey, most comfort food restaurants are.