Perhaps its because I have Javanese roots. Or perhaps these people just simply whip up a fantastic array of food. Food from Indonesia is something very dear to me, and it looks set to remain that way.
Penyet Town sits in the north-western Junction10 mall and, as its name suggests, serves a variety of proteins (chicken, beef, and even prawns) which undergo the penyet process, and various other Indonesian classics. Penyet means “smash” or “flatten” in Bahasa Indonesia, and dishes whose names include this suffix are usually subjected to a “beating” – with the aid of a mallet, meat tenderiser or granite pestle – so as to soften the physical texture of the protein of choice. Also present on the menu were a few odd entries; with one being a side serving of crinkle-cut fries (“would you like that to be served together with your gado-gado, sir?“)
While the rest of the mall is usually vacant, this eatery sees itself packed to the rafters – especially during mealtimes with characters such as housewives (and their children), students, and even uniformed personnel from the nearby army camp who are often seen immersing themselves in their desired plates of Indonesian culinary goodness. Amidst the mealtime bedlam, the cooks and servers who are heard conversing and calling out orders and table numbers in Bahasa Indonesia gives you some sense of reassuring comfort in knowing that your food would have a considerably high chance of turning out right.
The empal penyet (smashed beef) and ayam bakar (grilled chicken) looked set to be labelled as lunch (shared between my dear mother and myself, mind you), and it left us with smiles at the end of the meal. The sweet, yet savoury, empal was tender and came with fried tahu and tempe pieces (firm tofu and fermented soya bean cakes), a thick slice of cucumber, and a generous dollop of kick-ass sambal belachan (a fiery shrimp paste-based chilli relish) which rested on a slice of cabbage. A spoonful-worth of moreish kremes (crispy deep fried batter-based niblets) added another layer of texture to the decadent beef slices.
The glistening, off-the-bone, kicap manis-smothered ayam bakar was grilled to caramelised perfection, and was served alongside a kicap manis-based dipping sauce with sliced bird-eye chillies and shallots, a similarly thick slice of cucumber, a tomato wedge, and the fried tahu and tempe combo – which was also given the awesome kicap manis (sweet soya sauce) grill treatment. A kicap manis overload, you say? Maybe so, but I’m not complaining.
Tucking in using our hands (I declare this as the proper and ONLY way you should enjoy such delicacies) the dishes were served on wooden side plates (lined with what used to be circular cuts of banana leaves, but now brown waxed paper (something to the likes of Hot & Spicy Nasi Lemak)) and eaten together with steamed rice. We rounded off the meal and cooled ourselves off with a mug of iced, fragrant teh botol (bottled tea), which disappointingly arrived sans bottle. *Boooo!* Another gripe was that the piping hot food succumbed to the low and dry air-conditioned environment; which made the dishes become cold in record time.
However, seeing its close proximity to my home, I can envision myself heading back there quite often for more toothsome empal, ayam (be it bakar or goreng (fried)) penyet, as well as other items which caught my eye; such as iga, sotong and udang (beef ribs, squid and prawns) – just to name a few. Or perhaps I can get my mum to bungkus (order take away) something from Penyet Town the next time she heads to Junction10 for some grocery shopping… (I know you’re reading this, Ma!)PENYET TOWN Junction10 1 Woodlands Road, #01-31 Singapore 677899 Open 11am to 10pm daily Tel: (65) 6760-9790