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Nov 12, 2011 04:55 PM

Indonesia - A Taste of Babi Guling in Bali

No visit to Bali would be complete without a taste of "babi guling", roast suckling pig, Balinese-style. Our Balinese foodie friends reacted in horror when I suggested going to the (in)famous Ibu Oka for lunch yesterday. "Too touristy!", "Full of foreigners!", chorused my friends - blissfully forgetting that (1) I am a tourist, and (2) I am foreign myself :-D

Anyway, after a bout of shopping and art-buying in Ubud, we were taken to this very local eatery called Babi Guling Ibu Dayu, a tiny spot which can probably fit 20, if we all held our collective breath. A smattering exchange between our Balinese host & the waitress and plates of roast suckling pig were served to us, each with slivers of succulent meat, a couple of strips of crisp pork skin and a hot freshly-fried pork-rib. A side-bowl of soup with pork-bone was served on the side. It was delicious, different from Chinese, Filipino or Spanish preparations but very, very good in its own way. The seasoning and spices were subtle - coriander, Indon bay leaf (daun salam), candlenuts (buah keras), lemongrass, lime, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste (petis).

The crisp pork-skin reminded me of Filipino pork chicharon, shatteringly crisp and biscuity. The soup was murky & tinged slightly yellow from the fresh turmeric used for marinating the pork - very nice as a sauce to moisten and flavor the steamed white rice, cooked from padi harvested from the surrounding rice terraces. Very memorable meal, and nary a foreign face (except ours) in sight in the busy surrounding neighborhood.

Address details
Babi Guling Ibu Dayu
Jalan Perempatan Lodtunduh
Ubud, Bali

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  1. Yes, indeed Ibu Okar is "touristy", but don't forget many of those tourists include domestic ones from Jakarta and Surabaya!!! But because it is touristy and more pricey than other local stalls, it is more refined, more presentable hence more enjoyable for non-Balinese.
    For really local flavor, if you have time, try the nasi campur at Warung Wardani in Denpasar. No oversea tourists but many local tourists though...

    2 Replies
    1. re: FourSeasons

      Precisely my thoughts, FourSeasons. Same as what happened to me back in 2001 when I visited Taipei - I asked to try the original Din Tai Fung, but my Taiwanese colleagues would exclaim, "Too touristy! Let us bring you to a better one where locals eat."
      Happened for 2 straight weeks - each time we suggested Din Tai Fung, we get taken somewhere else. Mind you, all the food we had there were stupendous, but I just wanted to try Din Tai Fung! Finally, on our 3rd week there, a fellow Singaporean colleague & I went to Din Tai Fung ourselves - we enjoyed the experience very much: the queuing, loitering at the neighbouring Chinese bookshop whilst waiting for our table, and finally - the famous xiao long bao. They were, as my local Taiwanese colleagues had said, not really the best in town (although the most world-famous, by far), but we were glad we tried it :-)

      1. re: FourSeasons

        Precisely. I actually tried at a street vendor my driver took me and the meat/skin was so tough that I could not even bite into it. Ibi Okar's was much better!

        I like the warungs in the village of Penestanan, a short walk outside of Ubud.

      2. Hindu Balinese, I presume? (Or ethnic Chinese-Balinese?)

        1 Reply
        1. re: huiray

          Definitely Hindu-Balinese, huiray. Chinese influence was hardly noticeable in Bali!

        2. Going be eating our way through Singapore/Bali at the end of March and babi guling is no.1 on the must have list in Bali. I understand that Ibu Oka is too "touristy" but is it still the best? The two pictures of the food plates look good, especialy the soup, but the first one lacks meat IMO. And where is the whole pig?

          I'll be staying in Nusa Dua, but plan to go to Ubud (maybe for just one day, two if its amazing) just for the pig. Any clear cut winners on whats best?

          5 Replies
          1. re: rbond

            That first plate seems to have a decent amount of meat to me. ::Shrug::

            Unlike the USA, meat in other cuisines or areas of the world is not usually the focus of all meals.

            1. re: huiray

              well when the focus of a meal is the pig wouldnt you expect some? i've seen plates from places like puerto rico, cancun ect where you are getting just a plate of meat.

            2. re: rbond

              Ibu Oka's indeed very touristy, but they also do their stuff very well, as compared to places which only cater to locals - so, yes, do make it a point to visit Ibu Oka but try and go there *early*.

              For the Balinese, as for many Asians, the rice is actually the main part of the meal, whilst the meat/vegetables are seen as "accompaniments" to the rice, which is why meat portions would seem smaller than what we're used to in the West. But you can ask for extra portions of meat when ordering.

              1. re: klyeoh

                Typical chow hound. Wardani is great advice. Just real tough to find.
                It's different from Babi guling though. Basically different porkmeat cooked up. I love it.

                I used to love oka. But after years of delivering as last visit was terrible. To be honest I went to the house of ibu oka. Where they bake the pigs. Looks wonderfull but food was lacking. The baked pork was old and the pork skin was not crispy anymore. I was so pissed.
                I will give them one more chance and this I will eat at the old place. There you can see the pig carved up I front of I know it's fresh.

                Anyway the claim to fame for oka is actually its chili saus.
                And you can order just the meat or just some sort of meat. When alone I order alone I order the mixed meat and rice platter and a portion of extra crispy skin.

                1. re: tan1415

                  Thanks for all the advice. Seems like Oka may be the place to go for us. I'll keep doin research and maybe the hotel will know a new hot local place to check out.

                  As far as being able to see the whole pig finished and/or cooking where would I go for that, Oka? Thanks again.