Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

While Bali isn’t exactly a dining destination, there are several “must eat” places on the island. One of them is Ibu Oka’s Babi Guling at Ubud, partly made famous by Anthony Bourdain, the person whose job I wouldn’t mind swapping with.

Babi Guling Ibu Oka at Ubud, Bali
the new branch of Babi Guling Ibu Oka at Ubud, Bali

For those unfamiliar with this dish, Babi Guling literally translate to “rolling pig”, and has it’s name taken from the way the pig is prepared – by puttin the smallish pig on a stick and keep rolling it over coconut husk fire. The pig must previously be stuffed with shallots, garlic, galangal, lemon grass and dried shrimp, among other things. This is to add flavor while removing any pungent “pork” smell.

2 sets of bali guling with rice
2 sets of bali guling with rice

We visited the branch of the original Ibu Oka Babi Guling, a cleaner and bigger place with proper table and a much airy environment.

One reason I choose this location at Jalan Raya Desa Mas is that we had passed the restaurant on the way to Ubud and hence I knew how to get there, and secondly, the original place has been written to death and there is no need for yet another article for it, I suppose.

soup, rice, and the chili paste with a kick
soup, rice, and the chili paste with a kick

We arrived there at around noon on a weekday, the place had a healthy stream of diners, but no huge crowd as you would find at the original warung.

We ordered a set with rice, vegetable, pork roll, fried meat, sausage, and pork skin for IDR 30,000 and another set with rice, “complete meat”, and soup for IDR 50,000.

and yes, fanta remains very popular at Bali
and yes, fanta remains very popular at Bali

To be honest, I can’t tell what the fuss is about. The meal turned out to be very average for me (but in the case of Bali, above average), the meat was a little too gamy and still carry a bit of pungent smell. The skin was too tough, the sausage too is something I wouldn’t order again, it was a bit too “unrefined”. Our roast pork and Chinese sausage triumph this any day.

That being said, the soup was rather tasty, and with a bit of their spicy chili paste, the combination of meat and rice was decent too.

Still, all that hype, it was a bit of a let down.

Perhaps the next time around I”ll try the main branch to see if there’s any difference, but for now, babi guling isn’t one of my must-eat item at Ubud, but I’ll still eat it if it wasn’t out of the way.

Babi Guling Ibu Oka 2
Jalan Raya Desa Mas,
Ubud, Bali 80571
GPS: -8.530454, 115.271631

Discuss : KY eats – Ibu Oka Babi Guling, Bali

  1. Epic fail for me coz we didn’t try any Babi Guling while we were there!

  2. I’ve eaten at the main branch both times I’ve been to Bali, and I thought it was pretty awesome LOL. goes really really well with a bottle of Bintang. 😀

  3. Love the name babi guling.. and it looks deliciously tempting and what’s that pocari sweat? is it good?

  4. Michelle chin

    I had my babi guling here too. I didn’t think that it was particularly delicious but it’s interesting though.

  5. I guess it’s just one of those things you “have to” eat in Bali. Too much hype perhaps. Looks good though. 🙂

    BTW, Pocari Sweat is quite horrible, IMHO. The lack of carbonation (or the little that is there) – the ex is quite fond of it, I puked my guts out when I drank too much of it in Macau. Partly heatstroke I guess.

  6. wow.. got pork.. LIKE

  7. Apa ini, KY? Selalu blog makanan babi. Bila nak blog makanan halal?
    I am just kidding. I saw the show on Travel Channel. Tony was ranting and raving about the pig during his visit to Indonesia. I read another blog and they thought the pork was pretty average.

    • Meng: I guess tony doesn’t have the refined taste of pork as most of us in Malaysia do. 😀

  8. I agree with you. Didn’t care much for the babi guling there. It’s like chewing a really tough suckling pig, hor?

    rif drank Fanta every day when he was in Bali! 😆

  9. I had the babi guling at the original place and it was really good. If I go back to Bali, I’ll definitely eat there again. The only thing I found overrated was the skin. The meat was tender and moist and it went well with the chilli. My gf who doesn’t really like the “porky taste” said that it didn’t have that taste either. Maybe it’s just the branch or perhaps it was the pig itself.

    On a seperate note, have you tried Metis Bali? It’s expensive but it’s fine dining and the food is really good.

    • Kevin: guess I’ll have to try the original place next time!

      • Yeah, maybe. Or like I mentioned could be that specific pig or batch of pigs. But yeah, I liked the soup as well *drools* lol

  10. kampungboycitygal

    tried it too, gotta say tat our siew yoke wins hands down

  11. I went there as well, epic fail. Maybe expectations were set too high 🙁

    Taste wise it was good. Unfortunately all of the food served to us was cold. The skin wasn’t even crispy, damn tough. The fried pork was cold and the pork sausages (god knows what they put in there) was also cold. Only thing warm was the rice.

    • Mark Leo: yah, same experience too, nothing was warm except rice, and skin looked good but disappointing in taste. oh well

  12. i was enormously disappointed by this one also. all the same complaints as yours, especially the tough skin. just an over-hyped place to eat. i had babi guling again, a week later, prepared by the cook of the villa i was staying at. now THAT was fucking IMPRESSIVE! tender flesh, crunchy skin, and everything was so flavoursome i was practically weeping with each bite. methinks, if you want babi guling, you’ll have to look elsewhere instead of dining at ibu oka.

  13. thanks for all your bali sharing.. i am planning to go again and this time taking your itinerary along with me! 😮

  14. wah i also wanna eat the babi guling! then can guling guling. lol

  15. Frank D Law

    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!

    • Frank D Law: couldn’t have put it better myself, Anthony Bourdain will probably have to have a few slices of those roast pork from China or even Malaysia first (when he came to Malaysia they brought him to all-halal tour).

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