My First Iga Penyet


As I wondered about this mysterious word, Mr. J continued to gush about this wonderful dish called Iga Penyet.

“You should definitely give it a try.”

And that is how I find myself in front of Leko on one hot Sunday afternoon.

Warung Leko – Entrance

Located inside Trans Studio Mall, the cool air was a welcomed respite from the hot Indonesian Summer. I quickly seated myself on one of the two table left even as more people poured in. It is truly survival of the fastest. Those who are not quick enough will have to patiently wait for their turn at the table.

Simple Decorations

A pair of pictures adorned the barren wall. The wooden table and chairs are enough to give this place a different atmosphere. After all, you are not (most of the time) entering a restaurant to admire paintings.

As I looked at all the dishes on offer, the word “penyet” is repeated on a number of dishes. By this time, I’m knowledgeable enough about penyet to understand what it means.

A family eating at Leko

“Satu (One) Iga Penyet.”

My heart was pounding (not that hard) as I exclaimed my order. Soon, I will have my first taste of Iga Penyet and finally know what it is all about.

Penyet is a Javanese word which means flattened or smashed. Iga is the Indonesian word for ribs. So Iga Penyet means flattened (beef) ribs. When Mr. J explained that to me I could only stared incredulously. What does he means by flattened? How do you flattened ribs? Those are some of the questions that floated through my mind.

Iga Penyet

I was a tad disappointed by what appeared in front of my eyes. I had imagined something more…different. Further explanation is needed and promptly supplied by a more knowledgeable friend. The process of creating iga penyet involves boiling the ribs with herbs and spices till it is tender. Then, then ribs are pan-fried before finally flattened. Flattening is done softly (not banging the ribs like I previously thought) and the purpose is to separate the tender meat from the bones. Finally, it is served with sambal and a sprinkling of fried onions.

The meat came off the bones easily enough. One bite was enough to blow away my disappointment. The meat was soft and tender and the sambal was a perfect accompaniment. The fragrance of the sambal hid a fiery explosion of taste. A perfect companion for a plate of rice. Adding kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) made the dish taste even better….maybe that’s because I love that stuff a little too much.

At first glance, the serving size looked small. However, it is not as small as it looked. It filled me perfectly enough but even with two, I’m not complaining.

Sayur Asem

Trying to keep my diet balanced, I ordered sayur asem. It was sweet and refreshing, a perfect accompaniment for the ribs. Plenty of crunchy vegetables in there to keep me healthy.

Tahu Penyet

When the tahu penyet came out, I was disappointed. Armed with my new knowledge, I don’t expect the tofu to be completely flattened. However, no matter how I looked at it, it was just a normal fried tofu.

Or maybe, the tofu was slightly flattened but it returned to its original shape?

Regardless of my disappointment, there was nothing to complain about taste wise. The fried tofu was simply marvelous with the sambal. Or maybe it was the other way around?

Full of people

As I looked at the crowd, my stomach full, I remembered when Mr. J gushed about Iga Penyet.

I guess, that’s what I’m going to be doing for the next few days.