To say that fried chicken is one of my favorite foods is an understatement. Every chance I get to try a new version, there’s pretty much never a red light. Still, it took a trip to Wong Java House, Ade Kurniawan’s restaurant set amidst Alhambra auto body shops, to tussle with Indonesian ayam penyet for the first time.
Ayam Penyet ($7.50) features chicken that’s marinated in galangal, turmeric, lemongrass and candlenut. The bird bathes in those spices, becoming fragrant inside and out. Un-battered chicken cooks in vegetable oil and arrives in a massive stone bowl on a bed of spicy sambal crafted from red jalapenos, Thai chiles, and dried shrimp. Better yet, the aforementioned spices join the fried chicken party in the form of a crisp, chewy thatch, which is powerfully flavorful. Cooling cucumber also nestles into the enormous bowl. The chicken probably stayed in the fryer for a little too long, but considering the bold flavors, Wong Java House’s ayam penyet still proved to be one of L.A.’s more unique fried chicken preparations.