The streets of Panglima Polim brim with food vendors and carts, each one serving familiar dishes that could easily be found elsewhere but somehow always tastes better when enjoyed road-side. Amidst other food carts in the area serving the likes of sate and rice bowls, Rowstid Chikin’ shakes things up a little by serving American comfort food out of its dark green bajaj.
Fond of collecting two-stroke engine vehicles, former chef at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and The Tribrata Dharmawangsa, Muhammad Faisal Adam admitted to having a fascination with acquiring bajajs. Out of the two he stores in his garage, he modified one into Rowstid Chikin’s very own.
Seeking new activities to fill the loss of work hours during the pandemic, discussions with a friend gave Adam an idea to make a small food business that would merge his peculiar hobby with his background in culinary and hotel management. From pre-order services that he started in March 2020, Rowstid Chickin’ went out to the streets of Panglima Polim a few months later, serving his speciality roasted chicken ever since.
Every day of the week bar Monday at 3 pm, his bajaj is parked on Panglima Polim V road, adjacent to the basketball court. Its presence is marked by the sizzling sound of chicken-grilling accompanied by the latest groovy pop tunes booming from the radio—all it takes to get by-passers to slow down to steal a glance and passing cars to roll down their windows to catch the smell of juicy meat and aromatic herbs.
Inspired by the best-selling roasted chicken menu back at Ritz-Carlton, the meat is marinated for 12 hours with a mix of herbs such as thyme, rosemary, garlic, cajun and cayenne pepper with a layer of mayonnaise coating, which gives the chicken a succulent, rich bite out of the oven.
“Our entire process is kept simple. We use seasonings that you can easily find at supermarkets and cook the chickens in a stovetop oven—the kind aunties would use to bake cookies. At first, I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out because the meat would get flooded in fat juice and make it soggy, but that turned out to be a great thing; after a while, the meat would reabsorb the moisture, making it juicy and succulent instead,” Adam shared.
Whether whole, half or quarter-size, the chickens are served alongside sides like shoe strings (a smaller version of French fries) sprinkled with herb salt, Louisiana wings, bratwursts, to focaccia and sourdough sandwich bread, which customers can enjoy either inside their parked cars or one of the stools decked out around the bajaj. The absence of refreshments here isn’t a problem as it is strategically parked next to a convenience store, giving diners the option to scavenge through the refrigerators to find a cold drink they fancy.
Though one wouldn’t quite categorise roasted chicken as street food, the easygoing and crowd-gathering appeal of Rowstid Chikin’, paired with the friendly set-up and close-knit team seems to work together in reintroducing it as such, while also adding a fun variety to the food scene in the area.