Fancy some salted egg ayam penyet?
The prices are a tad higher than what you would expect to pay for hawker fare, but the quality of food at Mantul Ayam Penyet, which recently moved to Ayer Rajah Food Centre, makes up for them.
The XL-sized whole chicken leg in its ayam penyet set is thoroughly marinated, infused with spices and carries no telltale frozen odour.
Its ayam penyet salted egg set costs $7, but the portions are hefty. The plate comes with a large serving of well-cooked and fluffy rice, as well as fried tempeh and tau kwa.
Madam Ila Hollilah Sodik, 36, is the head cook and runs the stall with her husband, Mr Azman Md Yasin, 54, who helps with the slicing and cutting of ingredients.
Originally from West Java in Indonesia, Madam Ila developed her own recipe for the salted egg sauce. She prepares it from raw salted egg yolks, steaming, cooking and blending them with turmeric and ground coriander. The result is a sauce that is savoury, and yet not overly salty or cloying.
The couple started their business in March 2021 at a stall in Lorong 5 Toa Payoh under the name Ayam Penyet Puedess Mantul.
They relocated in April 2022 to a coffee shop at 505 West Coast Drive to be closer to their home, but customer footfall turned out to be less than what they had expected, so they moved in mid-October to Ayer Rajah Food Centre.
Due to the space constraints in the stall, the couple is not offering sambal balado and sambal ijo for their ayam penyet.
The basic ayam penyet set costs $6.50. Both the salted egg and basic versions come with sambal belacan made in-house daily from red finger chillies, chilli padi, onions and garlic. The recipe, which has been handed down from Madam Ila’s grandmother, calls for the concoction to be slow-cooked for two hours.
The chicken legs, marinated overnight, are rich with the aroma and flavour of spices such as turmeric, ground coriander and lemongrass.
Another dish to try is the fried enoki mushrooms ($5), which come with deep-fried tau kwa and tempeh. As there is not enough space in the stall for a wok, Madam Ila has to use a deep-fryer for the mushrooms, which means they cannot fan out fully into the shape of an opened umbrella. But texture- and taste-wise, it is an addictive side dish. The batter is crisp, and the mushrooms retain their springy texture.
The seafood options are costlier than the ayam penyet sets because the stall uses fresh, instead of frozen, prawns and squid.
The udang penyet set ($9) comes with three deep-fried prawns. The battered prawns are juicy and the meat is firm.
The sotong penyet set ($9.50) has a generous serving of deep-fried sotong, but the squid is a little too rubbery and needs a lot of chewing.
The nasi sambal goreng set ($7) offers more value with chicken rendang, serunding kelapa (spiced coconut floss), a begedil (potato patty), beef lung and sambal goreng – a stir-fried mix of tau kwa cubes, tempeh and long beans.
Instead of beef lung, I opted for cuttlefish with sambal, which costs an additional $1. The sambal is spicy and the cuttlefish is tender with bite. The chicken rendang is slow-cooked, so it retains its shape, and the meat is tender but firm.
The nasi sambal goreng set is available from 6am when the stall opens, while the ayam penyet and other deep-fried food sets can be ordered from 10am.
Where: Mantul Ayam Penyet, 01-72 Ayer Rajah Food Centre, 503 West Coast Drive
Open: Saturdays to Thursdays, 6am to 4pm. Closed on Fridays