Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A rather Indonesian lunch @Waroeng Penyet

"Budget lunch?" That was the title of the email that I received sometime ago from an Indonesian colleague at work. I shall spare you the glibs that went back and forth, suffice to say, the destination of the budget lunch was Banquet Food Court in Raffles Place. An interesting thing that I learnt about this place is that, this is a halal food court! There is a small section that sells pork, but apparently customers are banned from crossing the lines! That means if you are on the halal side of the food court, you stay there. And if you bought from the pork section, you stay there. Interesting!

The ordering area where you can see all of their other sets: ayam penyet (squashed chicken), empal penyet (squashed beef), ikan penyet (squashed fish), lele penyet (squashed eel), bakso penyet (squashed meat balls), etc

We ended up staying at the halal side and I decided to try out the empal penyet set from Warung Penyet. Empal is basically sweet fried beef. The meat is marinated with lots of coconut milk base concoction and simmered on a pan using small fire which ensure that the meat is marinated thoroughly and the end product a tender beef; designed to fall apart at the gentlest prodding. The set came with rice, fried tofu, fried tempeh, sliced cabbage and a slice o cucumber. All these came for just SGD 5.50!

Empal Rice Set @ SGD5.50 including empal, sliced cabbage, a slice of cucumber, freshly grounded chili, rice and crackers with soy sauce (that black thing on the upper left hand corner, on a little sauce bowl all on its own)

Since the shop is called "Penyet", which means squashed , it is only fitting that all the meat that they served are actually squashed. The empal too was squashed. "Sadistic" you said? Nah, not really, if anything it makes the meat more tender and brittle, so that when you touch it, they fall apart. With the chicken it helped separate the flesh from the bones.

Close up of the empal, crackers, a slice of cucumber, sliced cabbage and rice

Close up of fried tahu (tofu) and tempe ~ this pair is nationalistically Indonesian

Each spoonful of bits of empal, rice, with sweet soy sauce and chili was like going back to my childhood. I can taste the sweetness of the coconut milk mix on the beef and the salty crackers (the golden brownish cornflakes look alike on top of the empal) really complimented the empal taste. If you are more adventurous, then do try the chili. Please be warned however, that it is H.O.T. Have some milk or other dairy product nearby to calm the burning sensation your mouth will feel soon after consuming this chili. For your first time, just use a little. Or, mix a quarter of a teaspoon into the soy sauce. Try dipping the kerupuk there too... Don't blame me if you get addicted...

The kerupuk (Indonesian crackers) was just a dollar. I wonder how could I almost forgot the wonderful taste of sweet soy sauce with kerupuk and rice?! It was simple and comforting. I think kerupuk is like pringles, once you pop, you can't stop. Till you finish your order that is. Kerupuk really reminds me of home, as we always have kerupuk on the dining table. It's almost a staple of Indonesian cuisine. At my brother's wedding, the caterer suggested that we served some kerupuk during the dinner. I was startled because I always thought of kerupuk as a cheap food, but then the caterer explained that Indonesian tongues are accustomed to kerupuk, we live with it, we need something that crackles in our mouth. It made perfect sense! Ever thought of that anyone?

Kerupuk! @ SGD1 for the whole lot

I've heard about this Warung before. A friend who used to work in my office and sat behind me told me about this place, but I always told her that it won't be as good as food in Indonesia. Damn, was I wrong... This empal, was good. I'd go back. As a matter of fact. The day following this lunch, I did went and get a take out of the same thing. Yeah, I should be creative, but it was so simple and nice. So I just closed my eyes for a couple of second savoring the taste of sweet soy sauce with rice and crackers. *yummm....

Waroeng Penyet
Banquet Food Court
Underground Level of
Clifford House
Raffles Place

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