In some parts of Indonesia, chicken bones are eaten along with the meat in one fell swoop!
I first knew of Ayam Tulang Lunak (soft bone chicken) from the fast food outlet called Malioboro in Singapore. The food there is sumptuous, but a little on the hard side, and not as authentic as the stuff you can find in warungs across Indonesia, and in particular in Java. You can find special ayam tulang lunak shops and cafés quite prominently, and while it may not be as popular as ayam goreng or ayam soto, it is nevertheless one of the most popular Indonesian chicken dishes, and in my opinion possibly the best of the lot!
Usually served with sambal and fresh greens (and rice), the chicken has been succulently cooked until moistened, but what makes this chicken different from the rest is that the bones are edible. Usually, diners have to pick the chicken off the bones (like drumsticks), but with ayam tulang lunak the bones are considered the tastiest part of the meal!
Think of it like eating crab in Singapore or escargots in France – it can be a very messy business to finish the plate! However, the softness of the bones in ayam tulang lunak makes it easy enough to enjoy without breaking into a sweat (or breaking your teeth!). In fact, the bones provide a great source of calcium whereas the meat is full of protein, so it actually provides a very balanced meal, if you can afford to eat it (most Indonesians will eat a more simple meal of rice and fish).
With so many chicken dishes available in Indonesia, it’s always good to see something different, and with a chicken where you can eat the bones as well as the meat, “different” is certainly the word I would use! Regardless of how small the pieces of chicken are that you get served, it’s always nice to enjoy the succulent meat and surprisingly soft(ish) bones that lie within!