Ibu Oka-The Pork That Anthony Bourdain Ate In Bali, Indonesia

Ibu Oka

Do you remember the episode of “No Reservations,” where Anthony Bourdain was in Ubud, Bali and said that the mouth-watering babi guling, or roast pig, was the best that he’s ever had? Well, that was at Ibu Oka, and the pork they dish out is tasty. It’s been stuffed with garlic, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass and chili. Then, it is basted with coconut milk and cooked outdoors for five hours.

 

Ibu Oka

This isn’t fancy food. This Balinese specialty is served in simple surroundings, and here, it’s all about the pig. I like the mixed plate which specializes in the tender meat, a little of the skin, some fried intestines, and the delicious blood sausage. It also comes with rice, spicy vegetables, and Ibu Oka’s secret sauce which really makes the pork come alive.

Ibu Oka

Ibu Oka’s fame has caused them to now open three locations. And, along with the expansion of the locations, unfortunately there has also been an expansion of price. The mixed sampler plate is 45,000 rupiah (about $3.70 USD) and 60,000 ($5 USD) for the plate of skin which is the truly decadent part. (I don’t think they give you enough with the main plate, so I like to order a plate of the skin on the side). With drinks, it can come to an expensive meal by Bali standards.

You must go early to experience Ibu Oka’s, as they tend to start running out of food as early as 12 noon. (They go through about thirty pigs a day.) This tends to be the haven for many Japanese bus tours, so it can get very busy.

Ibu Oka

Why I Think Ibu Oka Is Overhyped

While, I still find Ibu Oka’s to be delicious, I do find it to be a bit overhyped. I had the privilege of going many years ago, and I love the hole-in-the wall greasy-spoon feeling you used to get with whole pigs being brought in and chopped up while you were watching. Now, all three locations are modernized, and it has more of a mass-produced feeling and flavor which wasn’t what Ibu Oka’s was originally about. (The local Balinese can’t even afford to eat there, something which I find to be quite sad.)

I, myself, will be in search for some more authentic babi guling while I’m here in Ubud. I’ll keep you posted on what I find.

Locations:

Jalan Suewta
Tel: +62 361 2077 490

Jalan Raya Teges
Peliatan, Ubud

Tegal Sari No 2
Tel: +62 361 976435

Also, check out this Indonesia travel guide!

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  1. I recently went to Bali and although it was recommended to us, we weren’t able to get there in time for a lunch time to try this in Ubud and I believe it’s only really in earlier in the day, as you say. I was disappointed not to have been able to try it but I didn’t realise it had become so modernised and even too expensive for many locals, which I agree is quite sad if that’s the case.
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  2. Have you tried eating Balinese Babi Guling (roast pig)? Try eating your table top and you should get a fair idea how bad & teeth-breaking hard the crackling of the pork is. As a food critic, I’d expected from Bourdain an honest review…not the regurgitation of the fanciful copy from a tourist brochure. I was so sold that I flew all the way to Bali to try the dish that Bourdain described in such superlative terms. To draw an analogy, it was like meeting a girl introduced by a friend who’d described her as the most beautiful girl in the world for the first time and you’re greeted by a gnarled washed-out toothless broad with bad skin, bad breath & whiskers on her chin! Of course, I thought that the chef had a bad day and went back twice the following 2 days in a vain attempt to prove Bourdain right. The next time you’re in Bali, try their Babi Guling & see for yourself if the dish justifies the superlatives heaped upon it by Bourdain. Don’t just take my word for it…