I remember Pondok Jawa Timur as the place which served one of the best Ayam Penyet (smashed fried chicken) I've ever tasted! That was several years back when my colleagues bought me to their former premises at The Atrium @ Dhoby Ghaut (next to Plaza Singapura). Pondok Jawa Timur has since moved to Wilkie Edge in the Selegie area, and I wouldn't have known of their existence in the new location had Derrick not invited me along for dinner. Thanks for bringing me on this rediscovery of Indonesian delights!
Specializing in traditional Javanese cuisine from the eastern part of Indonesia, Pondok Jawa Timur was founded by Madam Indah when she arrived in Singapore in 2006. Armed with her home recipes and fueled by her passion for cooking since young, her wish to introduce cuisine from her hometown to more people was soon realized and eventually found favor with our local palates.
Food is prepared using only the freshest ingredients by a team of Indonesian chefs who has stayed with Madam Indah since inception of the restaurant, and all rempah (spices paste) are made from scratch. Being a Halal-certified establishment meant that our Muslim friends can enjoy these delectable Javanese dishes with no worries.
The menu offers perennial favorites which most of us are familiar with, such as Tahu Telor (Fried Tofu in Egg with Prawn Paste, $9.90), Sate Ayam (Chicken Satay, $9.90), Ayam Penyet (Smashed Fried Chicken, $7.90), Ayam Bakar Kecap (Grilled Chicken with Indonesia Sweet Sauce, $8.50), Sop Buntut (Oxtail Soup, $11.90), Gado Gado (Mixed Vegetable in Peanut Sauce, $8.90) and Udang Pete Belado (Belado Prawn with Pete, $13.90).
We put as much dishes as our stomachs can hold to the taste test and Sate Ayam ($9.90) emerged as the top winner! Pieces of chicken thigh are skewered and cooked over charcoal grill, resulting in meat wonderfully tender with bits of charred edges and full of smokey aroma. A generous douse of the robust savory gravy enhanced the gratification further and the way to savour the chicken to its fullest is to dip it in the accompanying spicy chilli. Yummilicious max!
Another definite must-order winner is the dish which is etched so fondly in my memory, Ayam Penyet ($7.90)! An authentic Indonesian dish of chicken deep-fried to outer golden-brown crispiness, then deliberately smashed to make the meat softer and also loosening it from the bone which makes consumption easier. The meat could do with more juiciness, but was flavorful and paired well with topping of fragrant fried crunchy batter. The real shiokness came when eaten together with the powerful kick-ass fiery sambal belachan, making it smashing good!
Our table were divided over the Gulai Kepala Ikan ($28.90). Some of us felt that the fish head curry should be more lemak (rich & creamy), while some of us (including me) appreciate the gravy's lighter consistency which sat more gently on the tummy without leaving us feeling jerlak (surfeit). The aroma of the spices shine forth more apparently in the absence of excess richness of coconut milk.
One thing we do agreed on is that the red snapper head used was undisputedly fresh, and its meat was succulent. Worth a try and great for sharing especially if you're a group, but we were told that a regular customer will always come alone, order just this one dish and finished it all on his own! Good food is meant for sharing? Good food makes one selfish? Good food transcend it all? Haha, you decide!
The Rendang Jawa Timur ($8.90) was not as tender as we would like it to be, but I have to say that Pondok Jawa Timur really nailed it down when it comes to their flavorsome gravy which redeemed the less than perfect texture of the beef rendang. The full-bodied nuttiness of the sauce for Tahu Telor ($9.90) and Gado Gado ($8.90) were superb too.
There were a few of us at dinner so we ordered a table full of dishes to share, but if I'm dining alone, ordering the Nasir Kuning Set (($9.90), which allows me to have tasting portions of Fried Chicken, Beef Rendang, Perkedel, Fried Sambal Potato and Shredded Egg together with Yellow Rice on a single platter would make more sense (unless you're a big eater!).
The Mie Goreng Jawa ($7.90) makes an excellent choice too. It's just a simple Javanese street food of fried noodles with shredded chicken and hard-boiled egg, but will certainly satisfy with its slightly moist texture and ambrosial wok-hei flavor.
Es Avocado Mocha ($5) and Es Cendol ($4) with green jelly and jackfruit sweetened with gula melaka (palm sugar) sounds more interesting than it tasted, so until the beverages' execution can be improved, I will just focus on whacking the main attraction here, the delicious Javanese food.
Thanks to Pondok Jawa Timur for the hospitality.
Pondok Jawa Timur
Address: 8 Wilkie Road, #02-01 Wilkie Edge, Singapore 228095
Contact: +65 68845853
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am - 10pm (last order at 9.30pm)