Monday, June 20, 2011

Soto Lamongan Cik Sam

Just came back from a short 2D1N getaway to Batam over the weekend, where we saw ourselves venturing through 3 of their popular malls. No mean feat!

Went to the Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall on the 1st day.

I don't care much for the shopping but I gotta tell you that this mall is quite the food haven. They have quite a number of fast food outlets like Pizza Hut, A&W, KFC, BFC (Best Fried Chicken - I thought the 'B' stood for Batam… heh).

The top floor has this rather exclusive-looking cinema and more restaurants. And most of the coffee-joints seem to be located here. Like Coffee Town, New Town Coffee (there's 'Old Town' Coffee from M'sia, rite??) and Godiva Coffee.

And then there's the Food Street on the ground level were there's this long stretch that is flanked by small eateries on both sides (alfresco dining). When we were there, all tired and hungry, we got so muddled by the too-many choices that we eventually can't decide.

My SIL eventually let on that she rather eat in air-conditioned comfort. And so we went back up to the top-level. As soon as we stepped out of the lift, we went into the 1st restaurant we saw… Soto Lamongan Cik Sam (yes, that's the restaurant's actual name!).

Soto 'Lamongan'

Their namesake and of course, their specialty.

Lamongan is actually a district in East Java and this type of Soto originates from there, I guess. Given that this is the specialty here, you can see the piping hot chicken soup being ladled out of this big earthen pot, in full view of everyone. Definitely a big draw, I tell you!

Considering that we were here late that evening, the soup has become somewhat concentrated with all the flavours that goes in; since it was simmered continuously throughout the day. Very robust chicken flavour, with just the right amount of spices.

There's shredded chicken meat, vermicelli and hard-boiled egg inside. This is served with a plate of white rice. Worth ordering.

Ayam Penyet

My hubby just can't do without his chicken.

I'm not surprised if he's actually disappointed to see that the chicken here ain't as fleshy as its counterparts in Singapore. Reminded me of 'ayam kampung' (free-range chicken), actually. Another thing is that they don't really marinated the chicken much, prior to frying. Taste just like your regular, home-made fried chicken.

But it's served piping hot and crispy. And that, to me, is good enough.

Belut Penyet

Belut, otherwise known as eel. Before you go on to think of those moray eels in the sea… well, let me tell you. This is the freshwater kind, usually found in streams & riversides or even the shallow tributaries at paddy fields. And given the portion on that plate, my guess is that this is the young kind (aka on the small side).

I can't help ordering something that is out of the ordinary (or exotic, as you may call it). It's either this or the 'Itik/Bebek Penyet' (duck) or the 'Puyuh Penyet' (quail).

The small eel is cut into small, bite-sized pieces before being deep fried. Thankfully, this one here wasn't fishy, as the norm with most freshwater fish. Just watch out for the triangular, spinal bones which can be pretty sharp.

I offered some to the others and all gave this mortified look and declined. Except my hubby's 12 year-old niece who was eager to try out something new (you know, at that age). "I love those eels at the Japanese restaurant!"

I gave her a boneless piece. Before long, she asked for another (dang, the portion is only so much!). But I like to see that gastronomically, she's the adventurous sort; just like myself ;P

Ayam, Bakso & Ikan Bandeng Penyet

Other orders were the 'Bakso' (beef balls) Penyet and 'Ikan Bandeng' Penyet. Not surprisingly, the latter was ordered by the said niece.

For the unknown, 'Ikan Bandeng' is actually a species of fish that's also known as 'chanos chanos'. This dish originate in Central Java. I'm not sure which version is the one that's served at this restaurant but there are those pre-marinated ones that's individually vacuum-packed and sold frozen. There are many brands and some of them sold the fish together with some chili sauce. The better (and popular ones) are more pricey than others.

My first taste of this was when my grandma came back from central Java and gave us some. I was hooked! But my grandma didn't buy much because they are pretty expensive, actually. Later on, my boss's rich Indonesian client bought them by the boxes and distributed those to her Singaporean contacts and my boss was lucky enough to get her hands on a whole box of those. Of course, she generously shared them with us.

My mum made 'pepes' with some of those. Yums!

The thing about this fish is that they have pretty fine bones that are a hassle to remove. So these marinated ones are almost like canned sardines, the bones are made softer by the marination thus we can do away with any removal. Either that or the fish is cooked by the 'presto' method where it's steamed over high heat to soften the bones, prior to frying.

Each portion of the 'penyet' dish comes with a slab of fried tofu & 'tempe', a wedge of raw cabbage, a couple slices of cucumber and a sprig of 'daun kemangi' (lemon basil). And not forgetting the 'sambal belacan' (chili with fermented prawn paste).

One thing for sure, their 'sambal' sure pack some punch. Its prowess was made more evident by the sight of the numerous 'Teh Sosro' (a popular brand of jasmine tea drink) bottles on our table…

So there's our 1st food foray at Batam.

PS: If you wanna order the quail, you might want to consider ordering another individual piece. I read reviews about that portion being on the small side, too.

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