There are tons of styles of ayam goreng (Indonesian fried chicken), and the capital city of Jakarta is full of excellent restaurants specializing in various regional variations on the fried chicken form. In this article we’ve put together a list of the very best fried chicken we’ve found in Jakarta, from traditional and modern Indonesian styles to Korean, Western and Chinese. Hopefully it’ll help you find your new favorite new place to fulfill your fingerlicking craving.
If you like this list, be sure to check out other “Best in Jakarta” food features covering hamburgers, Padang food, pork specialists, french fries, martabak, Korean BBQ, dishes under Rp 50,000 and more.
Ayam Goreng Suharti
Although it was started in Yogyakarta, this traditional Indonesian ayam goreng chain is one of the most famous and beloved in Jakarta as well. Nyonya Suharti pretty much perfected the ayam goreng kremes style, which eschews heavy batter on the chicken itself and instead uses crispy flour bits (the kremes) cooked alongside the chicken as an addictive condiment begging to be mixed in with your rice and sambal belacan.
Ayam pop certainly doesn’t look like what most foreigners would think of as fried chicken, given its deceptively plain skinless appearance. But Indonesians, particularly lovers of Padang food, know that you don’t need crispy skin to make fried chicken that pops with flavor. Ayam pop is marinated, boiled and then lightly fried in coconuts oil (from which it derives much of its unique flavor) and then served alongside a spicy dipping sauce that incorporates pungent petai beans. While you can find it in pretty much ever Padang restaurant, most Jakartans would say the king of ayam pop is Simpang Raya, for its sauce that is perfectly balanced between hot and sweet. There are Simpang Raya outlets all over the capital but most say the best one is on Jalan Kramat Raya in Central Jakarta. Be warned: you may find it difficult to get a seat there though.
Simpang Raya, Jalan Kramat Raya no. 71
Ayam Goreng Tulang Lunak Hayam Wuruk
This chain specializing in the popular tulang lunak style of fried chicken, which literally means ‘soft bones’. Cooked under high pressure (which is why it is also called ayam presto) the process creates flavorful, tender meat as well as cartilage soft enough to chew through in the same bite. In addition to the excellent crispy variety, this chain has been doing a popular telur asin variation long before salty egg sauce became super trendy.
Ayam Goreng Berkah Rahmat
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First opened in 1963, this old school ayam goreng restaurant remains one of the city’s best and most consistent. Only using ayam kampung (free-range “village” chickens, which are smaller but more flavorful than factory-bred ayam broiler), the meat is marinated and plunged into the hot oil without any sort of batter, which really allows the natural flavor of the chicken to shine through. Get it with their spot-on sambal, fragrant nasi uduk and pungent petai goreng to complete the package. Try to go for lunch (or earlier) if you can as this ever-popular restaurant can run out of items later in the day.
Warung Bu Kris
Ayam penyet (chicken crushed with a mortar and pestle and served slathered with chili sauce) is another beloved fried chicken dish that, like all penyet dishes, originates from East Java. Warung Bu Kris, a chain from Surabaya, consistently serves up some of the best penyet dishes in town and their ayam penyet is utterly addictive.
Ayam Blenger PSP
Ayam geprek, the latest trend in Indonesian fried chicken, comes to Jakarta via Central Java where this new take on ayam penyet has become all the rage. Instead of the bone-in pieces used in your standard ayam penyet, ayam geprek features boneless, crispy fried chicken breasts that get pounded together with sambal and served over rice, giving you the ability to evenly distribute crispy, chicken-y, chili goodness into every bite. You can (and should) get it topped with cheese, as well as egg, petai and even more ridiculous amounts of chili. Ayam Blenger PSP is one of the best places to get on the geprek train in Jakarta.
One of the other big food trends in Jakarta these days is salty egg. Eatlah douses crispy chicken tenders (or dory, if you like) in the incredibly rich, curry-tinged sauce and serves it up over rice with a sunny-side-up egg for good measure. They’ve been opening up outlets throughout Jakarta to keep up with demand.
This new Ismaya concept in SCBD is super trendy at the moment but the food here is also legit, with their Nashville Chicken Burger standing out as one of the city’s best fried chicken sandwiches in my book. The juicy, crunchy chicken between the brioche buns is painted in a sauce that is seriously spicy but balanced out by the carrot and cabbage coleslaw. They also do some excellent salty egg chicken wings.
Mr Fox, Energy Building, Ground Floor, Jl. Jenderal Sudirman, SCBD, Jakarta
This cheap but consistently good Chinese chain specializing in comforting bubur (porridge) has quite a few fried chicken dishes, but most are just okay. But I love the kulit ayam cabe garam (chili and salt chicken skin) here. You can find deadly delicious chicken skin at quite a few places in Jakarta but most of them fry the skin until it’s completely dry and shatters like a potato chip. Ta Wan’s kulit ayam pieces still have a bit of fat and chewiness to them, which makes them feel more like the kind you’d pull of a bigger piece of fine fried fowl. I also love almost any cabe garam Chinese dish that comes buried in heaps of chili and garlic, so take that as you will.
Herb-KaraageDeep fried chicken served with nine kinds of selected herbs and spices.
People generally think of Japanese food as being healthy, but they also really know how to make some fantastic fried food. The most elegant take on karaage (boneless fried chicken pieces made with thigh meat and skin) you’ll find in Jakarta can be found at Japanese home food specialist Ootoya. Their herb karaage really emphasizes the dish’s citrus-y notes to brighten up the taste of each fatty yet delicately crisp pieces of fried chicken and the additional sauce and herb dip take it up a few flavor notches more.
Korean fried chicken (the other KFC) is famed all over the world for its shatteringly thin and crispy skin and the delectable, often mouth-singeing sauces it’s coated in. Kyochan is a famed Korean chain that produces some of the most refined KFC you can find in Jakarta. We’d recommend going for their mix wing platter so you sample their original, honey and spicy red varieties all in one go.
Jakarta’s three Chicken Phong outlets really captures the dingy but delightful atmosphere of a genuine fried chicken shop you’d find in Seoul, where almost as much emphasis is placed on the cold beer as the chicken (the Mall of Indonesia outlet has special refrigerated cup holders at the table to keep your Bintangs chilly). In addition to the fried stuff, they’ve got a wide variety of Korean dishes as well as barbecue chicken for your friend who’s trying to watch their waistline. The only portion sizes here are big so come with a hungry crew.
This oft-Instagrammed Korean fried chicken restaurant in Pantai Indah Kapuk does excellent spicy and garlic variations, but they might be most famous for their honey butter chicken, which is sweet, decadent and addictive. But if you really want to go over the top you can get their Nest Snow dish, which pairs their spicy chicken tenders with a rich cream sauce, sweet potato mash, grated cheese and even unsweetened whipped cream on top (it’s like the fried chicken sundae you’ve dreamed about but were too afraid to ask for).
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An American fast casual chain specializing in (you guessed it) wings, they’ve got to be the winners in terms of sauce variety. With 10 flavors to choose from, ranging from the rich butteriness of their “garlic Parmesan” to the melt-your-face spice of their “atomic blast”, you should be able to find a good fit (I’m partial to the sweet-and-spicy mango habanero myself). They’ve got crispy wings with thicker crunch batter as well as classic wings and boneless wings for further textural customization.