Food Picks: Mantul Ayam Penyet moves to Ayer Rajah, Yayoi Singapore revamps its menu

The ayam penyet salted egg set at Mantul Ayam Penyet. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Mantul Ayam Penyet relocates to hawker centre

The prices are a tad higher than what you would expect to pay for hawker fare, but the quality of food at Mantul Ayam Penyet, which recently moved to Ayer Rajah Food Centre, makes up for them.

The XL-sized whole chicken leg in its ayam penyet set is thoroughly marinated, infused with spices and carries no telltale frozen odour.

Its ayam penyet salted egg set costs $7, but the portions are hefty. The plate comes with a large serving of well-cooked and fluffy rice, as well as fried tempeh and tau kwa.

Madam Ila Hollilah Sodik, 36, is the head cook and runs the stall with her husband, Mr Azman Md Yasin, 54, who helps with the slicing and cutting of ingredients.

Originally from West Java in Indonesia, Madam Ila developed her own recipe for the salted egg sauce. She prepares it from raw salted egg yolks, steaming, cooking and blending them with turmeric and ground coriander. The result is a sauce that is savoury, and yet not overly salty or cloying.

The couple started their business in March 2021 at a stall in Lorong 5 Toa Payoh under the name Ayam Penyet Puedess Mantul.

They relocated in April 2022 to a coffee shop at 505 West Coast Drive to be closer to their home, but customer footfall turned out to be less than what they had expected, so they moved in mid-October to Ayer Rajah Food Centre.

Due to the space constraints in the stall, the couple is not offering sambal balado and sambal ijo for their ayam penyet.

The basic ayam penyet set costs $6.50. Both the salted egg and basic versions come with sambal belacan made in-house daily from red finger chillies, chilli padi, onions and garlic. The recipe, which has been handed down from Madam Ila’s grandmother, calls for the concoction to be slow-cooked for two hours.

The chicken legs, marinated overnight, are rich with the aroma and flavour of spices such as turmeric, ground coriander and lemongrass.

Fried enoki mushrooms at Mantul Ayam Penyet. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Another dish to try is the fried enoki mushrooms ($5), which come with deep-fried tau kwa and tempeh. As there is not enough space in the stall for a wok, Madam Ila has to use a deep-fryer for the mushrooms, which means they cannot fan out fully into the shape of an opened umbrella. But texture- and taste-wise, it is an addictive side dish. The batter is crisp, and the mushrooms retain their springy texture.

The udang penyet set at Mantul Ayam Penyet. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The seafood options are costlier than the ayam penyet sets because the stall uses fresh, instead of frozen, prawns and squid.

The udang penyet set ($9) comes with three deep-fried prawns. The battered prawns are juicy and the meat is firm.

The sotong penyet set at Mantul Ayam Penyet. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The sotong penyet set ($9.50) has a generous serving of deep-fried sotong, but the squid is a little too rubbery and needs a lot of chewing.

The nasi sambal goreng set at Mantul Ayam Penyet. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The nasi sambal goreng set ($7) offers more value with chicken rendang, serunding kelapa (spiced coconut floss), a begedil (potato patty), beef lung and sambal goreng – a stir-fried mix of tau kwa cubes, tempeh and long beans.

Instead of beef lung, I opted for cuttlefish with sambal, which costs an additional $1. The sambal is spicy and the cuttlefish is tender with bite. The chicken rendang is slow-cooked, so it retains its shape, and the meat is tender but firm.

The nasi sambal goreng set is available from 6am when the stall opens, while the ayam penyet and other deep-fried food sets can be ordered from 10am.

Where: Mantul Ayam Penyet, 01-72 Ayer Rajah Food Centre, 503 West Coast Drive
MRT: Clementi
Open: Saturdays to Thursdays, 6am to 4pm. Closed on Fridays

Revamped menu at Yayoi

Yayoi Singapore, a restaurant chain specialising in teishoku, or set meals, launched its refreshed menu on Nov 1.

The Premium Zen set is a new item on Yayoi Singapore’s revamped menu. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

New items include the Premium Zen ($30.90++), an appetising set meal which offers plenty of variety if you cannot decide what to have.

The meal comprises juicy, crusty slices of tonkatsu battered and fried to order, two breaded fried prawns, a piece of perfectly grilled mackerel that is oily but not cloying, three slices of salmon sashimi, a side salad and napa cabbage pickles. The restaurant uses koshihikari, a premium grade of short-grain rice, imported from Japan. For the set meals, the rice, miso soup and pickles are refillable.

Karamiso gyoza at Yayoi. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Also new is the karamiso gyoza ($7.90++). The steamed chicken dumplings come in a tangy, spicy sauce made using spicy miso, vinegar and shoyu. The dumpling skins are thin and supple, while the chicken filling is moist and tender.

The plant-based yasai ramen, one of the meat-free options at Yayoi. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The revamped menu also offers meat-free options such as the plant-based yasai ramen ($13.90++). The broth draws flavour from soya beans and soya sauce. The bowl of silky and springy noodles looks a tad plain compared with the set meals, but it contains a generous assortment of vegetables – carrot slices, beech mushrooms, French beans, snow pea pods, onion slices and seaweed.

Signature favourites have retained their spots on the revamped menu.

Hoba yaki, or meat and miso paste grilled on a dried magnolia leaf, at Yayoi. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Prices for hoba yaki start at $19.90++ for a la carte orders and $24.90++ for the set meal options. Meat and miso paste are grilled on a dried magnolia leaf – hoba – that rests on a tabletop barbecue. The magnolia imparts a nutty aroma and flavour when grilled.

Hoba Yaki at Yayoi. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Diners can choose from three types of miso paste: wasabi miso (no extra charge), karamiso (an additional $1++) and tomato cheese miso (an additional $2++). I go for the karamiso, which is savoury and packs some heat.

There are six meat options for the hoba yaki. I select the popular pork steak option (fresh pork loin), which costs an additional $4++. This is a dish that requires immediate attention as the pork can become overcooked and stick to the leaf if you let the meat rest for more than three minutes. The flame in the grill stays lit for 10 minutes. When the pork is served, turn it over every 30 to 60 seconds. It is best to have the meat after 60 seconds of cooking.

DIY Kaminabe Zen with 16-grain rice at Yayoi. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Another popular item is the DIY Kaminabe Zen (prices start at $24.90++), a customisable paper hotpot dish. Diners can choose from nine soup bases and 11 toppings including salmon and scallops.

The duo soup base, which costs an additional $1++, is made from fish and chicken broths. It is light but sweet-tasting and not heavily seasoned. The paper hotpot comes packed with vegetables such as xiao bai cai, cabbage, enoki and shiitake mushrooms and napa cabbage.

For the set meal, you can also opt to have the 16-grain rice for an additional $1.90++. Comprising 16 types of grains including black glutinous rice, black soya beans and red beans, the rice has a nuttiness and chewy texture.

Where: Yayoi outlets, including at B1-54/55 United Square, 101 Thomson Road
MRT: Novena
Open: 10.30am to 9pm

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