This is probably the only restaurant in Sydney where the main menu item is a verb, penyet. It’s an Indonesian word that means something has been smashed, usually with a pestle. The classic example of this is the restaurant’s namesake, ayam penyet – fried chicken walloped in a mortar and pestle and served with rice, a particularly fiery sambal, and a dusting of kremes (tiny bits of spiced fried crumbs). Then there’s udang kremes, the same thing with prawns, or terong penyet, the same again but with eggplant. Other possibilities include tempeh, eggs and beef ribs.
The idea to bring this tradition from Indonesia to Australia first started in South Melbourne in 1998 with the original Ayam Penyet Ria. The same family now have four restaurants, this Randwick outlet being the latest. All the restaurants serve the same thing, the above items plus a few soups and gado gado. If you’re looking for something a bit different, rawon (a complex, slightly sweet, tar-black soup) is very difficult to find in Sydney due to the rareness of one of the main ingredients, keluak. The Southeast Asian nut is critically poisonous, but when prepared the right way makes a rich, slightly bitter black paste.
Surprisingly, for a restaurant with no table service and such a small menu, it’s quite a slick place, more like a modern café than the other Indonesian restaurants at the same $15-a-head price point.