Leave me alone with nothing planned and I will do this: eat.
On my last day travelling solo in Bali, I could not recall doing anything else apart from ensuring that my tummy was not in want. One of the highlights in my not-so-adventurous pursuit of traditional dishes was babi guling or Balinese roast pork.
Bali is probably the only place in Indonesia whereby you can taste a lot of varieties of pork, served in non Chinese style. Being a country with the largest Muslim population in the world, most of the restaurants serve halal food since it does not make much business sense to ignore the meal preference of close to 90% of the population.
Bali is different though. The majority of the population in the island is Hindu, which means that they eat pork but abstain from beef, which is perfect for me since I do not eat beef. This is why you can find blatant selling of pork and pigs being hung which will leave the people in other parts of Indonesia gasp in horror.
So anyway, back to babi guling. You can find this everywhere in Bali, but two of the more famous branches are Babi Guling Ibu Oka in Ubud and Warung Pak Malen at Kuta/Seminyak area.
What is so special about babi guling then? It basically is a mixture of anything you can find inside a pork, the more sinful it is, the better it fits into the picture. For those not in the know (like me), I did a quick Google and found out that a complete set of babi guling consists of this:
- The babi guling/roast pork meat
- The thick and crispy skin coated with grease
- Pork skin cracker
- Deep fried pork innards
- Lawar or vegetables with spicy sauce
- Pork sausage, or you can get the special pig’s blood sausage, which is black in colour
- Soup made of pork broth
- Pork satay made of minced pork meat
- Special Balinese chili made of spices
- Rice – an Indonesian meal will never be complete without rice.
Which makes me realise that I have not actually had a complete set of babi guling yet! But most of the things that I mentioned above actually fit snugly into this box.
I swear I meant to take a far better picture than the one above, but once I sat down and smelled the pork, I walloped it all in one go and only realised my lack of good pictures when the box was already empty. To make up for it, I found a picture of the dish when I had it back in September.
For some reason, I preferred the one at Pak Malen – perhaps because of its perfect mix of pork, chilli, vegetable and pork skin, when savoured together created a wonderful sensation on its own. But it could be because I was VERY hungry then.
Why don’t you be the judge yourselves and try this tasty dish? Although to be honest, since both are arguably equally good, the decision of which one to try really rests on which part of Bali you are at.
A word of warning though, babi guling is not a cheap dish. I think the price averages at about Rp 40,000 – Rp 50,000 (USD 3-5), which is considered pretty expensive for Indonesian warung food.
Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka
Address: Jalan Suweta/Tegal Sari No. 2, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen
Jalan Sunset Road (at the junction between Jalan Sunset Road and Jalan Imam Bonjol), Kuta, Bali, Indonesia