Friday, April 5, 2013

Pulau Dewata: Babi Guling Ibu Oka

When you go to Ubud, don't forget to stop by at Babi Guling Ibu Oka to have her famous Suckling Pig. It takes 7 hours to roast one single pig, or pork, and the result is breathtaking - crispy golden brown skin and succulent juicy meat, you will regret not eating it.

Located at the center of Ubud, Bali, Ibu Oka's Suckling Pig does not consist of just one joint, but three! The dining place is very popular amongst tourist and local citizen they had to build more joints because the first one is, not-surprisingly, rapidly swarmed by curious gastronomers.

My attempt to dine at the first joint, where people would queue for hours to be able to get a table, was not that great. When we arrived at the restaurant, the place was filled with foreigners stuffing themselves with crispy pork skin; so, Mom, Dad, Tante Tami and I headed to the second restaurant.

We arrived at this entrance to an alley, decorated with big eye-catching signs with "IBU OKA" and "SUCKLING PIG" written on it. It was a bit tricky to get to the second restaurant because we had to went through narrow alleys with numerous junctions.

Ibu Oka's Suckling Pig, right this way!

It's open, woohoo!

Follow the gray brick road to get to Ibu Oka's second restaurant

It was an hour before the middle of the day when we arrived at Ibu Oka's second restaurant, which explains the innumerable empty seats. There were only a family, or two, that consisted of four members who were busy gobbling themselves with rice and pork when we got there. The staff greeted us with a smile, then she took us to a table facing the outdoor and that was where we were seated. 

Unlike the first joint of Babi Guling Ibu Oka, the second dining place was less crowded, cozier and relaxing. There were lots of statues of pig decorating the restaurant - they even had this adorable piggy washbasin! We could enjoy the outdoor view of tropical tree and the cool breeze of summer air while we enjoy our meal. The place was dark, but not murky, as the staff let sunshine illuminate the whole area naturally. 

Water Lily as decorations at the dinning room

You're literary just a jump away from the jungle

An adorable piggy washbasin

A statue of mother pig and her piglets

Sesajen, or offerings to the spirit, was placed on top the statue

It only took seconds for us to decide what we are going to have for lunch, which is Nasi Campur! Nasi Campur is Mixed Rice literary translated, and it consist of rice and side dishes. Since the restaurant's name is Ibu Oka's Suckling Pig, the side dishes for our Nasi Campur was non other than pork, pork, and more pork!

As I wait for my lunch to be served on the table, I strolled around the restaurant and took some pictures. I was lucky to be able to see some staff preparing the Nasi Campur. 

In Indonesia, it is common to see people scooping food with their hand gloveless. It may be disgusting and eerie for some people, especially to those who have hygiene issue, but it really is fine because Indonesian are aware of the "wash your hand before handling food" rule. 

One of the kitchen staff, decorating the plate with pork

Let's see who can carry plates the most in one run

They were adding some more side dishes to the plate

Pour some Sambal on top, and there you have it!

There were a handful of Urap Sayur, a slice of Chicken meat, Blood Sausage, Pork meat, Crispy Pork Skin, Gorengan, and a splash of Sambal in my share of Nasi Campur. Our meal was served with plastic-paper-covered woven rattan bowl, very simple yet attractive. The perfect companion for our bowl of Nasi Campur was a good cold glass of thirst-quenching freshly-squeezed lemonade! 

One of the waitress at Babi Guling Ibu Oka, handing us our orders

Fresh and sweet Lemonade

My share of Special Nasi Campur 

Piggy galore! 

Every side dishes that was on my bowl tasted superb! I'm not a big fan of Lawar - a mixture of vegetable, minced meat and coconut, cooked with rice herbs and spices - but I'm definitely a big fan of the other side dishes. I have never tasted Blood Sausage before, the one that I had at Ibu Oka's was my first, and it tasted better than I expected it would be. I anticipated a gooey, greasy, and yucky clump coming out from the sausage as I bite into it, with mineral dominating the flavor and aroma, instead I was welcomed with a crunchy and savory silky doodad. It actually tasted good!

My favorite was the Gorengan - it's the one on the side of the plate that had irregular shape and dark brown as its' color. This particular Gorengan consisted of deep-fried pork skin and pork meat, and most probably fried with lard. It was super crunchy and savory, and very delicious, especially if you eat it with rice. 

And then there was the chicken meat, which tasted good and nicely cooked. The pork meat itself was not that plentiful, I only found two pieces of them in my bowl, and they were also good. The pork skin, even though it's the cherry-on-top of Ibu Oka's Nasi Campur, was not my favorite. The skin that I had was plastic-like, it felt as if you were trying to chew on a piece of plastic. But I won't argue about how delicious it was, with all those salty fat on the bottom layer.

Notice that funky looking thing on the right side of the bowl? That is the Gorengan.

Selamat makan!

At one point during lunch, as I was eating, I saw this people coming out of nowhere with a big stretcher-like gizmo carrying a freshly roasted suckling pig. It was so big and luxuriously majestic, and probabbly heavy judging by the fact that it took four muscular men to handling that pig. I was awestruck. I just sat there at my table, simply froze with my mouth slightly open, watching in the distance. There was this local tourist who abruptly took her pocket camera and hunt down those four men to took pictures. I was still at my table completely dumbfounded. 

"You should have take some photos of that pig, it would be great for your blog," said Mom. The pig was out of sight that time and I was very very crushed and sad. Missing an opportunity like that felt like adding some sugar to your cooking when you meant to add salt - it cannot be undone and there's nothing you can do but to regret what you did whilst sobbing on the corner. 

I was crushed, but instead of sulking, I quickly finished my meal and went on a hunt. My search was a success as I found an entrance to the place where they roast the pigs. "May I go in there," I asked one of the staff, pointing at the entrance with the worn-out paint. "Yes, definitely, help yourself," replied the staff. Golden ticket, baby!

The men behind all those crispy and succulent pig

Stocking up some wood to roast the pig

The sight of the super big manual oven

It was a whole new experience for me to be able to be at the 'kitchen' and watch muscular and tanned men work. I greeted them as I entered the place and they were very friendly and kind to me. "Welcome, Mbak, have a look around our working placesaid one of the men. 

They were busy stocking up woods to roast a batch of pig first thing in the morning. They used a gigantic manual cement-based oven, woods, and logs to roast the pigs with. No fancy electric oven down here, only the basic stuff to work with. 

Piles and piles of wood were used to roast the pig 

"Oy, can you even throw wood properly?"

Another offerings for the God, placed near the big oven

We chatted for quite a while and it felt nice to learn about something new. "We usually start roasting the pig at dawn. It takes hours to roast one pig, and here we have numerous oven, so we are multitasking," said one of the worker, "seven hours per pig." 

"The pig was bathe with seasoning before we roast it. We simply stick a long log into the pig, place it in the oven, and roast it. We have to pay attention to the fire, or else the pig will not be evenly roasted," he continued. The result of the hard work would be a batch of perfectly-roasted golden brown pig. 

"We roast our pig here, and when we are done, we usually sent them to Ibu Oka 1 and Ibu Oka 3 (the term they used for Ibu Oka's joints)," said another. "Did you know that we accept special orders, too? The one that was carried out a while ago was a special order from our customer. But you have to order two days beforehand for your suckling pig, so that we can work hard on roasting it."

Still stocking up woods for the morning shift on the next day

He seemed to enjoy his work very much

"Will you roast some more pigs for today," I asked, which then replied with a, "No, we are done for today. Our last suckling pig is being cooled down, and it's right over there.". I turned my head to the right and was welcomed with a glorious sight of fresh-out-of-the-oven golden brown pig. The sight of Ibu Oka's Suckling Pig was epic. I have never seen a pig on a stick before in my entire life, and there it was, right in front of me. 

Now this is a sight you cannot see everyday!

A perfectly grilled pig

Look at those golden brown crispy skin

Don't you just want to go barbaric and gobble it up by yourself?

The suckling pig is being cooled down

Rolling the suckling pig to the other side so that the liquid seasoning will come out

I stayed in the 'kitchen' for around half an hour. It was fun to chat with the men. I learned lots of things about Ibu Oka's restaurant and her hard-working staff. It's not a simple task to do, to make suckling pig - it takes hard work, determination, and patient to do such job. It tend to get very hot in the 'kitchen' as there was no air conditioner to be found, hence explained why some of the men were topless, not to mention when they are actually roasting the pig. Cool breezes of the tropical paradise is the only thing they can count on. 

Ibu Oka and her staff deserve a standing ovation and a good pat on the back for these delicious Suckling Pig. So, the next time you went to Ubud, don't forget to drop by at the restaurant and have some Nasi Campur. You will regret it if you don't!

Ibu Oka's Suckling Pig (1)
Jalan Suweta, No. 2
Tegal Sari, Ubud

Ibu Oka's Suckling Pig (2)
Jalan Raya Teges Mas
Peliatan, Ubud

Phone: (0361) 976 345

Ibu Oka's Suckling Pig (3) 
Jalan Suweta, Ubud


  1. Love this post! went to Ibu Oka's last year but didn't have the chance to get 'golden ticket' hehe

  2. these are wonderful photos! and that roast pig! drooools**