464 Anzac Parade,
Kingsford, NSW 2032
Despite over 10 years of eating being literally my top hobby, I barely know anything about Indonesian cuisine, due to its unfortunate under-representation in Australia. Thankfully, my visit to Ayam Goreng 99 is guided by a real-deal-born-in-Indonesia expert (hi Kenley!!), because the food here is about as authentic as it gets. Yes, there is nasi goreng, but also expect tripe, tempeh, and a fiery house-made sambal. You could arguably deduct points for service for having to write your own order on slips of paper, but otherwise the staff are surprisingly friendly and helpful. Shame the restaurant is so out of the way though.
Rating: 12.5/20 – real deal indo.
Must-order: tempeh and empal goreng (spiced beef). and don’t forget to ask for the kapis manis to go with it.
Ayam Goreng literally means fried chicken, so it would be absurd to not try the signature item. The chicken here comes in 3 main varieties – Charcoal Grilled, Deep-Fried, and Deep Fried Javanese-Style ($8/piece), and you have your choice of breast or thigh. They’re all pretty good, though they probably would’ve been tastier and less dry had we gone for the dark meat. But there are also a couple of hidden gems on the menu that would be a crime to miss. Make sure to get the Empal Goreng ($6.5/piece), which despite looking dry and horrible, is actually a marvellous bit of fried beef, surprisingly tender and rubbed with a punchy dry marinade. Don’t forget to grab a couple of pieces of Tempeh Goreng ($3/piece) and Tahu Goreng ($3/piece) as well; not only are they staples of Indonesian cuisine, they’re also highly delicious.
The Lontong Sayur ($15) is a classic Indonesian soup, most commonly eaten for breakfast. With a mildly-spiced base halfway between rendang and laksa, the soup soaks into the bite-sized pieces of rice cake for a hearty meal. Don’t forget to top it with some house-made sambal!
Veg-wise, it’s hard to go past the Cah Kangkung ($15), a dish of fresh water spinach, stir-fried with a savoury mixture of garlic, onions, and belachan – pungent shrimp paste synonymous with south-east Asian cooking.
Eis Campur ($7.5) is a must-have after all that richness, the classic shaved-ice dessert refreshingly sweet and icy, though I would like a few more bits and bobs at the bottom of the bowl.