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Ibu Oka @ Ubud, Bali

12:17 PM , , 3 Comments

ibu oka

Anthony Bourdain gave Ibu Oka a stamp of his approval and I don't think they have looked back ever since. Ibu Oka specia lises in Babi Guling or Indonesian Suckling Pig. I read and was told that when the doors fling open at 11am every morning, a freshly roasted pig with glistening well greased skin gets carted into the shop and when the chopper goes down, the chopping hardly stops. 


Full of people even near closing time!


Take your pick; mat or chair.


Peak hour's from 11am - 2pm but we chose to head there near sundown, almost past 4. The food gets served till the last plate and that's when "Closed" signage gets flipped and the day ends there. 

I get handed a menu even before I am sitted though I already have an inkling what to order. 

babi guling special

Babi Guling Special

Their specialty of rice with a bit of everything that they have. Crispy skin and the rest are chewy - black sausages (I'm wondering if they are stuffed with the innards), fried pork and fried pig skin. What baffled me was the meat in the plate - chicken or pork? Certainly tasted like chicken with a pungent chicken taste and smell about it. Probably due to the fact that it was cooked so many hours earlier. 


The other dish attempted is just like the special we had, with an extra bowl of vegetable soup which was really tasty.


Sausages made from scratch, not too huge a fan of these.

babi guiling

Crispy pig skin that was more chewy than crunchy.


The basket of goodies!


Keropok was up for sale at slightly under a dollar each, snack we did on the bitternut crackers.

roadside signage

I am beginning not to trust Anthony on his recommendations, after Mak's and Ibu really boils down to difference in tastes. To die for? Far from it.

bumbu bali next time!

I wish I had time for Bumbu which was just next door!

Ibu Oka
Jalan Suweta/Tegal Sari No. 2 
Ubud, Bali

A foodie born to eat, shop and travel. Forced to work.


  1. Stopped by Bali on our way back from Shanghai. Loved Bali, especially Ubud which is a place we would come back to again and again.

    This is our third visit to Bali so we decided to give Ibu Oka one last chance, in view of the many superlative reviews in guide books, travel channels and magazines. Reasoning: So many cannot be wrong.

    But it looks like they can be. Although the meat itself which was served piping hot, was actually underwhelming but flavorful enough, the crackling was still as tough as old leather shoes! It really made my DW and me wonder whether those folks who write glowing reviews of Ibu Oka and their babi guling, including Anthony Bourdain and the travel writer from Lonely Planet have ever tasted suckling pig in a Chinese restaurant? If they have, they would have tasted exactly how good suckling pig should taste like with crackling so crispy thin that every bite is to be savored! It is highly unlikely that after that, they would ever venture to describe babi guling as amazing”, "fantastic", “best ever” and all the silly hyperbole that have come to dominate this debate and given Ibu Oka an undeserved reputation. I have nothing against Ibu Oka per se. It is the integrity of reviews that I’m concerned about!

    To draw an analogy, if you live in a small outpost, say in the far reaches of Siberia, you may describe your local football outfit as “amazing”, “best in the world” or whatever superlative terms you may wish to employ, not out of intellectual dishonesty, but only because you have never been exposed to the silky skills of the likes of Barcelona or Manchester United.

    That is probably how it is with this “amazing babi guling” nonsense! We were in Shanghai for 9 days and tried Peking Duck and suckling pig IN SEVERAL RESTAURANTS and the stuff that they served up were slices of culinary heaven!

    As we live in San Francisco, we have developed an affinity for the dish. We know that everyone is entitled to their opinion. But how do you judge a dish when you haven’t tasted even remotely the best? It is really like the uncultured and the philistine trying to pontificate on high-brow literature and classical music!

    I'm a fan of Anthony Bourdain and look forward to his witty presentations but on this occasion he has dropped the baton!

    We remain baffled over these superlative reviews, because when we compare Ibu Oka’s babi guling to the suckling pig we have tasted in Chinese Restaurants from this side of San Francisco to Melbourne to Hong Kong to Singapore and Bayswater in London, we have to say that if the Chinese version and Ibu Oka’s babi guling are compared and placed on a scale of 1-100, the Chinese version would easily place near a hundred and Ibu Oka’s would limp in below minus 10. That is the difference between a culture with 2,000 plus years of culinary development and a rank amateur!

  2. Hi there, your comment certainly put a smile to my face. Alas someone else who seconds what I think! Absolutely get what you're saying about suckling pig and peking duck in China! Unfortunately or fortunately, taste is majorly subjective and after a couple of "amazing" stamps by Anthony Bourdain which have proved otherwise to me, I have stopped taking his word for the holy gospel truth.

    Always have to try it for ourselves to validate these claims. Well, for a start, have you ever heard Anthony Bourdain say anything tastes bad on his show? :)

  3. To be honest the best Ibu Oka for Babi Guling in Ubud would not be at the western place, instead go to the local one. There are other places like for example Pak Malen on Seminyak, is the best.