After being let off from work early for the day, my Indonesian coworkers and I were trying to decide what to do/eat. One of them piped up and suggested Ayam Goreng 99. Always one to try a native’s suggestion, I jumped on the chance despite the trek.
Arriving there just half an hour after they opened, there was already a line waiting to get a table. After a half hour wait, we finally sat down at this otherwise unassuming hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
I decided to order the Indonesian classic of Nasi Goreng which literally translates to fried rice. While I appreciate the attempt they made to make the dish seem healthy and wholesome with the cucumber, there was no illusion that this was oily, salty fried rice and delicious fried rice at that. The description on the menu was terse: chicken, egg, meats and shallots with rice and what I got was exactly that. Simple, junky but oh so good.
Shortly after, we were presented with our main event: the chicken (or Ayam in Bahasa). Out of the choices of grilled or fried, my friends recommended I try the grilled chicken thigh. I was not disappointed. The chicken was moist and tender, falling off the bone but had so much flavour too. The glaze on the chicken was sweet, salty and smokey. It was unique and possibly the best grilled chicken I’ve ever had.
On the side, I tried their fried tempeh to see how the “real” Indonesian tempeh compares to the Coles-bought product. To be honest, I couldn’t get past how Ayam Goreng 99 took something healthy like tempeh and made it “better” by deep frying it. It was ok.
To go with my meal, I ordered the Es Teler which was described to me as the drink with everything and I was not disappointed. It had coconut milk as a base, jackfruit, grass jelly, palm seed and avocado. I loved it. The nuttiness of the avocado actually complemented the sweetness of the drink and the jackfruit. I will order this again next time I’m back.
For dessert, I ordered an Indonesian classic and a favourite of mine in Malaysia: Es Campur or Ais Kacang. This version had palm seed, jackfruit, green and black jelly and avocado topped with the customary mountain of shaved ice, rose and mocha syrups and condensed milk. The dessert is cold, refreshing, full of gutsy flavours and oh so sweet. As the ice melts you’re left with a delicious syrup to drink up.
Not only was this the tastiest chicken I’ve ever tasted, it was all for a reasonable price. If you do find yourself wanting to try some of the best grilled chicken in Sydney, rest assured that Ayam Goreng 99, despite the outward appearance, is worth the wait. They have earned their reputation and I can’t wait to go back.