Ayam Penyet @ Changi Village

Sri Bistari Nasi Ayam Penyet
Sri Bistari
Changi Village Famous Nasi Penyet
Blk 3 Changi Village Road #01-40
Tel: 96172446/96176360 (Mr Mohd Fadzil)
Opening Hours: 10am to 2am, daily
Website: http://www.sbestfood.com/sribistari.htm

They have 4 other outlets, namely, Malay Village, Simei, Tampines and Beach Road.  Click their website to see the address and opening hours details.

“A new dish has over taken Nasi Lemak as the people’s favourite at Changi Village food centre. While there are at least five decent stalls still touting it, I counted at least six outlets now offering the latest craze there, Nasi Ayam Penyet.

It’s a traditional kampong staple from Indonesia and the last time I noticed, I suspect there are about 40 stalls all over our island selling this batter-less fried chicken on rice with a killer sambal and a pretty cherry tomato salad served on a traditional wooden platter.

Nasi Ayam Penyet means flat chicken rice. Mr Faisal Rashid set up the first specialist stall at Changi Village about two years ago after “ traveling through Jawa Timur in Indonesia and realized this dish could be a hit in Singapore.”

“The first thing my brother Fadzil and I did was to tweak the sambal. The Indonesian version has no sugar and we believe Singaporeans won’t like because of their familiarity with the sweeter nasi lemak sambal here.” So they added not one, but three types of sugars, “ Secret la, cannot tell you what sugars and how we use it but our spicy sambal has taste and fragrance of sweetness.” I pry for another secret, “ usually others don’t, but we pre-fry our belachan like the Nonyas, it gives better aroma”.

It’s strange, but their most important and secretive ingredient, which can make or break them, is doled out free, even when you ask for refills. But that’s the Singapore way, give them what they want, preferably free, and they’ll happily let you charge for what seems almost insignificant to them. It’s fair trade to them.

They believe that Nasi Ayam Penyat won’t be some fad as it has the same appeal Nasi Lemak has but is way healthier. Not a drop of coconut milk is involved and they use chicken flavoured, instead of plain rice.

And at $4.00 a portion which comes with a fried quartered chicken, done Indonesian style with spices and no batter, a plate of chicken flavoured rice, a fat dollop of sambal, chicken soup, a lettuce-cucumber and cherry tomato salad served on a thick wooden platter, it seems they are making an insignificant profit.

“My bother Fadzil don’t believe in charging a lot and don’t think people will pay more for it.”. Handling about two hundred fowls day at their Changi outlet is as much as the six staff and cooks can handle at the little outlet.

They actually have fourteen staff running this outlet on two shifts. Some of the bugbears of doing so is a high staff turnover and inconsistency in quality. So they hired a manager who does nothing but ensures all is smooth and recipes are adhered to but “ we don’t tell him the sambal recipe. We make it ourselves at night’, Faizal smiled, “also, we pay the staff 25% over market rate and it helps lower staff turnover.”

They are very successful, and as if to thank Providence for this blessing, they installed their parents as a middle-man chicken supplier, allowing them to pocket the takings. They even let customers refill their rice at no charge.

But what when the next round of bird flu fear comes a calling, “no problem” a prepared Faizal adds “ we also have the fried fish version, which now accounts for 25% of business. In fact, we will offer many types of fish, not just ikan kerapu, when chicken is not available.”

Note: The review was extracted from Makansutra.
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