Babi Guling, a version of suckling pig, is Bali’s most iconic dish and a meal you won’t find in any other spot of Indonesia, as the country is predominantly Muslim, speaking selling/eating pork is prohibited.
The preparation of Babi Guling is a lengthy process that is mostly done by restaurants rather by individuals at home. But what makes Babi Guling so special?
It’s the unique combination of stuffing and accompanied snacks. First, the entire pig is stuffed with herbs and spices such as lemongrass, garlic, black pepper, turmeric, coriander among others and then slowly roasted above open fire for several hours. No two Babi Gulings taste the same; although the dish looks similar once you visit different warungs (local eatieries), the taste is always different as every family or every restaurant has its own secret recipe.
A typical plate Babi Guling is served with crispy pork skin, pork satay (skewer), roast pork loin, blood sausage, pork floss, rice and mixed vegetables. Babi Guling is best enjoyed with a cold drink – either orange juice, ice tea or a beer. Usually, you also get a bowl of fresh clear soup along.
Babi Guling is available throughout the island, mostly at dedicated warungs rather than normal restaurants. The best time to eat Babi Guling (and the only time available at most warungs) is from morning until late morning; these times ensure that you’ll get the freshest cut on your plate. Here are the five best places to sample Babi Guling in Bali:
Ibu Oka in Ubud is arguably the most famous warung in Bali selling Babi Guling. Even renowned chef, author and TV host Anthony Bourdain visited and recommended the place a few years back in his show ‘No Reservations’. The original restaurant just opened back in 2000 while there are now two further locations around Ubud. But the actual story started way earlier: the family behind Ibu Oka, which translates to ‘Mother Oka’, was already preparing Babi Guling for the Royal Family of Ubud. With prices ranging between 55.000-70.000 IDR, Ibu Oka sells also the most expensive portions.
Location: Jalan Tegal Sari No. 2, Ubud Open: 10:00-18:00
Warung Babi Guling Pak Dobiel
People swear on the rich taste of this Babi Guling. It’s apparently so good that loyal customers come even from far away just to eat here. The lively restaurant is located near Jalan Bypass on the eastern side of Nusa Dua, about 1km from the famous Waterblow. The portions are big and generous while reasonable priced (40.000 IDR per portion) at the same time.
Location: Jalan Srikandi No. 9, Nusa Dua, Kabupaten Badung Open: 09:00-16:00.
Babi Guling Pak Malen
This popular warung is situated on busy Sunset Road right in the midst of Seminyak. As the restaurant is easy accessible it gets quickly busy here, especially around lunch time. One thing that sets Pak Maken apart from others is its authenticity as local warung. Where many locals highlight that some restaurants are simply overpriced and less tasty (mainly due to the influx of tourism), Pak Malen is widely regarded as one of the best Babi Guling warungs in southern Bali.
Location: Jalan Sunset Road No. 554, Seminyak Open: 09:00-18:00
Nestled on a small alley in Buduk, comes this warung which is often regarded to offer the best Babi Guling on the island. It’s quite a hidden spot, as the place itself is located in a house while no direct signs leading to it. You literally have to follow your nose in order to get here. By the way, there are no tourists around.
Location: Jalan Desa Cepaka No. 33, north of Canggu Open: 04:00-09:00
Looking for fresh crispy Babi Guling at reasonable prices? Look no further! This simple cozy looking warung sells undoubtedly one of the tastiest Babi Guling in the area of Denpasar. The pork skin is especially crispy here while the meat is absolutely tender and rich in taste. At just 20.000 IDR per plate (including soup and satay), Warung Sari Kembar is a highly recommended place to sample Babi Guling.
Location: Jalan Teuku Umar No. 99, Denpasar Open: 07:00-22:00
One thing of advice: it’s very common that Babi Guling warungs may close way earlier than indicated as they sell mostly until everything is finished.