I will readily admit that certain East Asian cuisines hold the lion’s share of airtime on this blog. It’s not strictly abnormal to enjoy the kind of food you grew up with, and I’m not going to go out of my way to eat at and review a restaurant I don’t think I’ll like.
Indonesian food seems to be a particular victim of my East Asian-slanted palate, but in an attempt to broaden my horizons I have eaten at and will try and give a fair review of ATL Ayam Tulang Lunak Crispy, a local Mascot (ex-Kingsford) Indonesian eatery specialising in soft bone fried chicken.
ATL’s main attraction is the Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak (1/4 fried soft bone chicken, $9), served with sambal sauce. As with all of their chicken the diner is given a choice of thigh or breast piece, and I have chosen the thigh piece for all dishes of this review as it appears to be the more popular of the two. Ayam Tulang Lunak Crispy’s chicken is first cooked in a pressure cooker overnight before finished off at time of ordering. It is this pressure cooking process that ensures uniform cooking of the chicken’s meat, as well as gives the bone ATL’s characteristic soft and edible nature. The chicken meat I thought was a tiny bit drier than the best fried chicken I’ve had, but more than made up for by the strange soft bone which was easy to chew and eat. The Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak was coated in a large quantity of light deep fried batter, which was crunchy and tasty (though only of a salt flavour). I can recommend this dish, if only because I don’t think there’s anywhere else in Sydney to have deep fried soft bone chicken.
The batter of the Ayam Goreng Telur Asin (1/4 chicken with salty egg sauce) was less in quantity than the Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak, replaced somewhat by a salty egg sauce. This was a relief in and of itself, as I don’t think I could’ve had more of the high-guilt batter after my first piece of chicken. Though eggy, the sauce tastes more or less the same as that of the normal fried chicken – mostly a salt flavour. The rest of the details of the chicken are identical to the first dish.
The coconut rice ($4) was really good. It was topped with fried onions and possibly some other ingredients that added a umami kick. In a strange way it provided a bit of balance to the very oily chicken dishes.
The Tahu Goreng (fried tofu – $5) was nice and crispy on the outside with only a light thin batter, and soft and warm on the inside. My partner enjoyed the piece that I took home for her and so did I.
Interestingly my favourite morsel of the meal was actually the Ayam Bakar (1/4 grilled chicken in sweet soy sauce – $9) that I got for takeaway for the following day. Unlike the fried pieces this grilled chicken actually had a flavour other than saltiness, and it also felt less unhealthy. The sweet soy sauce flavour and sachet of chilli sauce provided a much more interesting flavour profile. The bone in this chicken is soft as well, so it would be my recommendation if you were to go to ATL and only wanted to order one thing.
I don’t normally enjoy Indonesian food – more of an issue of personal tastes than a criticism of the entire country – but I did enjoy ATL Ayam Tulang Lunak Crispy. I think that while not every dish is amazing and it is probably not the most healthy thing you can eat, ATL does offer something that no one else does in their crispy boned chicken. Worth a visit.
ATL Ayam Tulang Lunak Crispy
1/702-710 Botany Rd, Mascot NSW 2020
(02) 8339 0660