Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Indonesian Grilled Chicken with Grilled Coconut Rice--Ayam Bakar Marqi
One way Indonesian dining establishments reduce the overhead of operating a restaurant is by eliminating the overhead. Long before the internet reduced the demand for brick and mortar stores, Indonesian restaurants took to the streets. In any town you can find established dining spots that materialize only in the early evening. Before that, they are merely parking spaces and open sidewalk. But come evening, the cook sets up his stall, sets up a few tables with stools and/or lays some woven mats on the sidewalk and is open for business.
In a city like Kediri, with a population of around 300,000, there are probably at least a hundred stalls and pushcarts alone, not to mention warungs and restaurants, selling nasi goreng (fried rice). There are also stalls specializing in sate, fried tofu, pecel, fried chicken and grilled chicken, among other dishes. While to most people one plate of fried rice might not be that much different from another, like food everywhere, diners have strong opinions on who makes the best fried rice or grilled chicken. Each stall has its adherents.
My sister-in-law and her husband are both natives of Kediri, so when they recommend a spot, I listen. Ayam Bakar Marqi has been in its present location for about six months. It's on one of the main streets in Kediri, across from Santa Maria Catholic school. While some places prefer meatier, chemically enhanced chickens, the folks at Marqi only use ayam kampung--village chicken--small, free range chicken that are not fed antibiotics and chemicals to color their skin.
You can order a whole grilled chicken or quarters, either breast and wing or thigh and drumstick. 14,000 rupiah (about $1.50 US) gets you a quarter of some of the tastiest grilled chicken you can find. Its served with a sambal of fried shallots, a piece of lettuce and a slice of cucumber. You'll also want to order a packet of nasi uduk (rice cooked in coconut milk) that is warmed over the grill while your chicken is cooked. The combination of grilled chicken and coconut rice is fabulous.