In my continued quest for really good deep-fried chicken, I recently invited my sister to join me on a lunch adventure to ATL Maranatha.
After reading about this delicacy called Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak (fried soft bone chicken) here, here and here, and discovering that a new branch had opened up nearby our workplaces, we just had to try it!
ATL Maranatha was the first restaurant to bring fried soft bone chicken to Australia. I've read that the Kensington restaurant is fairly small, but this new one at Ultimo is much larger. It still carries across its emphasis on self-service though. The above photo, shows the notepad and pen which we have to use to write down our own orders!
Everything else from cutlery to table water and prawn crackers are also self-serve.
The concept of fried soft bone chicken, is that chicken pieces are cooked in a pressure cooker then deep-fried. This special cooking technique makes the chicken bones so brittle, it becomes edible!
You read that right... the bones are edible.
The 'special menu' features three set menus, each at $18. We decide to share set menu A which include a 1/4 fried soft bone chicken, a plate of gado gado, a choice of fried tofu or tempeh, and a bowl of steamed rice.
Served with a delicious punchy sambal on the side, the chicken is hidden beneath our fried tofu and a snow of deep-fried batter bits - much like the Japanese tenkasu.
Every slice of chicken is cut with ease. It's a strange sensation cutting through a bone. Visually, it looks like any other ordinary bone which you'd eat around, but this one shatters upon slight pressure.
Taste-wise, the bone is like crumbly bone marrow... Meanwhile, the chicken meat is perfectly tender and juicy.
The gado gado is blanched water spinach, bean sprouts, cucumber, and iceberg lettuce with peanut sauce, fried onion and prawn crackers. It isn't anything spectacular but it does make the meal appear more balanced! ;)
To finish, we share the Es Campur ($5), a dessert-like drink featuring avocado, jackfruit, palm seeds and various jellies in a rose syrup flavoured milk. The Mardi Gras of colours and the variety of textures makes this such a fun dish to end the lunch-time adventure with!
I've eaten here a few times since my first encounter and the novelty of eating fried soft bone chicken is slowly rubbing off. It's not really something I crave but it does get me excited every time I think about eating an entire chicken maryland and not leaving a single crumb or bone behind!
So I've ticked this one dish off the list now... Would you try it?
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Shop 96, Taragon Central, 732 Harris Street, Ultimo, NSW
(There's also an entrance on George Street just opposite Railway Square)
Phone: (02) 9281 7879
Opens Mon-Sun, 11am-10pm
Also at Kensington:
61 Todman Avenue, Kensington, NSW
(Corner of Todman Avenue & Baker Street)
Phone: (02) 9663 3410
Opens: Mon-Sat, 11am-4pm & 6-9pm; Sun 12-4pm & 6-9pm; closed Tues & Wed