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Restaurant Review of the New Ibu Oka Suckling Pig Restaurant in Ubud, Bali
More than twenty years ago Ibu Oka and her family opened a small restaurant on Jalan Suweta in Ubud, across from the Ubud Royal Palace to sell just one thing, the ubiquitous and cherished Balinese dish, babi guling, or in English, roast suckling pig. The secret family recipe was a gustatory hit, and now two decades later hungry guests from far and wide flock to sample what is often referred to as 'the best suckling pig in Bali'. Word of mouth combined with rave reviews, including a shout out from noted food writer and TV host Anthony Bourdain, have caused a massive explosion in visitor numbers over the past few years. This meant that diners would often have to wait for long stretches of time to grab an open seat at the small unassuming warung. So clearly there was only one thing to do- open a new location to accommodate the overwhelming demand for this iconic dish.
Ibu Oka 3 is located just 100 meters up the road from the original restaurant, down a small alleyway off of Jalan Suweta. The small path leading up to the restaurant makes its way past the family compound with it's elaborately decorated Hindu temples, and eventually opens up into a spacious and breezy dining room. Unlike the first location, which features low tables and well-worn cushions on rattan mats, the newest locale boasts large family style wooden tables and chairs and plenty of room to move around. The dining room is completely open on one side offering views of lush tropical jungle and a gently babbling stream below, and the high ceiling with it's multitude of fans mean that the space remains cool, even on the hottest of days. Whimsical statues of frolicking pigs adorn various spots around the perimeter of the restaurant and remind patrons exactly what they came for.
Despite it's pleasing décor, the main draw at Ibu Oka 3 is the food, and the family has wisely chosen to offer the original menu that has been enticing people for years. Preparation begins with stuffing freshly slaughtered, juvenile pigs with a mixture of savoury ingredients and spices such as garlic, ginger, black pepper, turmeric, and chilli. The pigs are then roasted over a slow burning wood fire for hours and periodically basted in coconut water in order to keep the meat tender and moist while turning the skin a rich golden brown hue. Once the pigs are cooked to perfection they are carved up on site and meted out to hungry patrons in a few simple combination plates, the most popular being the 'Spesial'. One Spesial plate includes succulent slices of juicy white meat, a substantial piece of crisp savory skin, rich blood sausage, crunchy fried innards, diced green beans with coconut, all on top of a generous portion of rice and topped with a mildly spicy, mouthwatering gravy. Fans of the exquisite crackling skin can even order a side dish of extra skin.
Prices at this renowned enterprise have risen slightly in recent months, but are still reasonable, especially considering the quality and consistency of the food at Bali's favorite babi guling joint. At the time of writing a Special cost 30,000 Rupiah (about US$ 3.50), a set menu including all the trimmings that come with a Spesial as well as soup and extra rice cost 50,000 Rupiah (US$ 6.00) and soft drinks and water sell for as little as 5,000 Rupiah (US$0.60).
Hours of Operation
Both Ibu Oka locations are primarily lunch destinations as they open around 11AM and close whenever the last portion of pig is sold. As they go through 4 to 5 pigs a day, this means that closing time could be anywhere from 2 to 3PM, depending on the daily customer volume. Luckily, now that the second location is open guests no longer have to plan their visits outside of peak time, or suffer long waits in the hot sun, and the quick and friendly service will ensure that everybody can enjoy this memorable and 'must-eat' authentic Balinese dish at their leisure.
For more about Babi Guling in Bali, click here
- Babi Guling in Bali | Southeast Asia Wanders
Babi guling, or roast suckling pig is a favorite dish in Bali. Find out how it's made, what it tastes like, and where to find it.