Papa Ayam: Challenge your tastebuds with a variety of homemade sambals at Paya Lebar Quarters Mall

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You might’ve walked past Papa Ayam unknowingly when you’re in town, at their flagship outlet located in the basement of [email protected]. Their eye-catching bright yellow shopfront certainly does its job to get passersby to momentarily peruse the menu, as I keenly observed on a Friday afternoon.

They’ve just opened up their second outlet—a franchise—at Paya Lebar Quarters Mall, and already, they have managed to successfully draw more than just a handful of curious customers. Their claim to fame is being Singapore’s first ayam geprek brand that serves homemade sambal, made the traditional way—with a pestle and mortar.

Papa Ayam Online
Credit – Papa Ayam

Papa Ayam Online2Credit – Papa Ayam

Their sambal ranges from Level 1 to 15, and they welcome those with a steel stomach to take on their W.T.F. Challenge with an upsized portion of their signature dish with Level 27 sambal spiciness, in under five minutes. Conquer that, and your photo will be placed on their wall of fame with other ‘Spice Champions’.

What I tried

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For those uninitiated into the ayam geprek circle, I would encourage you to begin your familiarisation with the signature, Ayam Geprek Original (Level 1 – 15) (S$6.90). It’s crispy fried chicken, smashed and served with a delectable serving of original garlic sambal. You may choose your preferred level of spiciness for this.

I requested for a Level 3 spiciness, as my tolerance for chilli has greatly diminished since the start of the year. I was so grateful that I’d been modest with my selection because even a Level 3 was enough for me to break into beads of sweat just two mouthfuls in.

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I found myself constantly reaching for the Teh Botol (S$2)—which I highly suggest you order for a complete experience—and marched onward with this fiery review. Although the sambal got the better of me, I could still taste distinct flavours of garlic, salt and even some sweetness.

It certainly wasn’t a one-dimensional condiment, which made me look forward to trying the other dishes.

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My personal favourite was Ayam Geprek Trio Sambal (S$7.90). With three different sambals for your gastronomic pleasure, this dish made the Javanese in me ecstatic. You may decide to pair this with Indomie for an extra S$0.60 in place of rice like I did—and I really hope you do.

The three sambals featured are the regular garlic sambal, cabe ijo, and sambal matah. Cabe ijo is made with green chilli, while sambal matah is a Balinese chilli made with raw onions, lemongrass, chilli padi and lime juice.

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What I enjoyed most about this dish was not only the complexity of flavours, but also its depth. The Indomie, although mostly seasoned with an instant seasoning, brought with it sufficient salt to truly allow all three sambals to shine. The sambal matah was bright, refreshing and clean, while the other two provided the richness to balance this humble dish.

I also revelled in the springiness of the Indomie noodles, which made the crackle of the fried chicken all the more apparent. In short, this was a one-stop flavour bomb.

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I recognise the appeal of adding cheese to almost everything we eat, and here at Papa Ayam, they certainly have not forgotten either. The Ayam Geprek Original (Level 1 – 15) receives additional love with Melted Cheese (+S$1.50). It’s slightly torched for a hint of smokiness, and surprisingly it came through on the nose quite distinctly.

Is it an improved version of the original? Not quite, simply because I feel it took away from the star of the dish, the garlic sambal. It did, however, quell the fire of the sambal, which I was grateful for, but it also muted the robust flavours.

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If you want some variety in your meal, their Satay Taichan (S$6.30) makes a great addition. Unlike the satay that we know locally, satay taichan is a variation of chicken satay served without peanut or seasoning. Instead, it’s served with sambal and lime.

I suppose it’s hard not to automatically compare this to satay that I’m more used to, but this version does have its merits. Firstly, while it lacked the lovely char I adore, the straightforward flavours were a welcome experience. I could detect nuances of salty, spicy, savoury, acidity, and sweetness, making this a lighter, yet still enjoyable side dish.

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And, of course, how can we not add some crunch while we’re at it? Aptly named Crispiest Kulit Ayam (Chicken Skin) (S$3.70), you will not want to put these down. I wished I could’ve taken these home in a bag.

The best part is that they were well-seasoned and begging to be dipped in even more sambal, which is great because one portion is served with their signature sambal (Level 1 – 15), or you can opt for Golden Salted Egg Sauce (+S$0.60) or Melted Cheesy Skin (+S$1.40).

Final Thoughts

I love a place that allows customers to adjust a spiciness of a dish or to request food to be less salty—I believe taste is truly subjective. With that said, it’s one of the reasons why I really enjoyed Papa Ayam’s dishes; there were so many options.

For such affordable price points, you wouldn’t think it came with the liberty of choice, and I believe that’s where Papa Ayam has truly succeeded. Its homemade sambals are also one of the best, especially if you enjoy a cheekily spicy meal. I might never attempt their W.T.F. Challenge, but I will definitely be back for their Ayam Geprek Trio Sambal—with a side of crackling chicken skin, please.

Expected Damage: S$7 – S$10 per person

*This post is brought to you in partnership with Papa Ayam.

Price: $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Papa Ayam (PLQ Mall)

15 Paya Lebar Road, Paya Lebar Quarters Mall, #B2-K3, Singapore 409049

Our Rating 5/5

Papa Ayam (PLQ Mall)

15 Paya Lebar Road, Paya Lebar Quarters Mall, #B2-K3, Singapore 409049

Telephone: +65 9726 1300
Operating Hours: 11am - 9.30pm (Daily)
Telephone: +65 9726 1300

Operating Hours: 11am - 9.30pm (Daily)
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