Jul 05

Anthony Bourdain - No reservationsComing back from Ubud just to eat some roasted pork on rice over there, I must say, Anthony Bourdain, the famous author, culinary in-your-face adventurer and self-proclaimed hedonist is right. You really have the best Babi Guling (which is ‘Spanferkel’ or Roasted Suckling Baby Pig) in Ubud/Bali!

Just ask anyone in Ubud for Warung Ibu Oka’s (Auntie Oka’s Stall), which was featured in his show ‘No reservations’ (running on cable on the Travel & Living Channel or Discovery Channel). Actually that’s not right, you have to ask for her house – because Ibu Oka had to move her stall recently after Anthony Bourdain visited her Warung.


Ever since then the crowds of curious travelers kept flocking there, cueing up and occupying that small stall big time. So she finally moved the stall a few roads back into her house and garden, which is a beautiful and tranquil green place, with plenty of plants growing and birds chirping.

Hordes of foreigners and locals alike do the pilgrimage every day to check out what’s the fuss about – and you won’t be disappointed! It’s now more like a Mekka for pork lovers. (Hah – what a paradox! :)

The sign of Warung Ibu Oka in UbudThe procedure goes like this: come in, find some free spot, sit down and wait a few minutes, while ordering some drinks. Beer Bintang, Es Jeruk (Orange Drink), Es Tea (Local Ice Tea) or the international soft drinks.

There is only one choice of food on the menu, ehhh sorry, there isn’t even a menu – just one choice of food. But it’s well worth it!

Ibu Oka tries hard to offer you a reproducible culinary experience: all portions look almost equal, with white rice, white pork meat covered with her favorite Balinese Sauce, a piece of blood sausage, 2 piece of fried pork skin, pork liver and some other (probably other dried pig organs) per set.

Babi Guling by Ibu Oka in Bali's UbudI admit it doesn’t look that delicious at all but the taste makes more than up for it. You’ve just got to try it!

There are even some people who just fly to Bali to eat pork at Warung Ibu Oka’s! How is that?

So what’s the fare after you’ve finished?

We paid Rp 85.000 (around 7 Euro, 10 USD, or SGD 14) for 1 big beer, 1 Es Jeruk and 3 portions Babi Guling. Ahemmm, yes I had to order another one portion, as it was soooooo delicious and I couldn’t get enough of it.

After that we could almost roll downhill back the 90 minute drive from Ubud to Seminyak; as my belly surely measured more the size of a pig’s than thus of a skinny budget traveler.

Related: Here is an interesting interview with Anthony Bourdain which covers most countries of Asia and interesting insights into pig slaughter and other foreign activities to a Westerner. :)

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written by Chris

30 Responses to “Anthony Bourdain Is Right About Pigs”

  1. RheaNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I loved Bourdain’s first book, Kitchen Confidential, and his TV show. Good to hear your first-person account of this experience.

  2. ChristineNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Such a shame I didn’t get a chance to try babi guling while I was there a few weeks ago! We didn’t have time to try/do/see everythin we wanted whcih just gives me reason to plan a trip back. I was naive to assume it was just like our local version of lechon and only later did I find out it’s stuffed with all sorts of delicious local spices that makes it unique. It was great reading about your experience, will definitely head Ibu Oka’s warung when I go back. Thanks! :)

  3. ReniNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    I want have a husband like him

    Can eat everything, maybe cook as well and drink arak atack with me

    My Sanurian can’t cook.

  4. oakleyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Watched that episode and my husband swore that I had a virtual pork-gasm. LOL. It. Looked. So. Frelling. Good!!!!!!

    A pork pilgrimage? When I win the lottery, that’s the first on my list.

  5. Travel BettyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hi Nomad,

    Thanks for linking to my post AND for letting me know the important information about change of location! I’ve got 3 months until I fly out there and indulge. Your post and pictures make me want to leave today!

  6. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    That’s interesting. Haven’t heard like that yet in other places. That’s probably one of its kind in the world…

  7. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Update from last weekend regarding Ibu Oka – they moved the Warung back from her house to the usual place close to the Banjar Building in Ubud. It seems it was only expansion/construction, not for good. There is still construction ongoing, but you can order and eat as usual. Taste is great! Babi Guling Spesial, 1 portion Rp. 20.000, bigger portion with separate rice for Rp 30.000.

  8. LiTNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I was one of those people who flew to Bali just for Ibu Oka’s magnificent creation.

    Ok, I was in other parts of Indonesia for other matters, but I went to Ubud especially for the roast pork. I’ve made a point for several years, of chowing on her pork every time I’m in the country. That Ubud is renowned for other things such as paintings, cultural performances and other artisty things, were an incidental bonus.

  9. ozladyNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Personally, I’m a fan of kampong chicken… so lean and tasty.

    But the pork is a suitable second!

  10. PeakviewNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Thank you so much for this info. Gotta love the Internet and Google. “Anthony Bourdain” and “Bali” popped this site up as the first hit. I saw his Bali show and was wanting to know where the fabulous pork was located. Ubud is one of my favorite places in the entire world and to so easily find the pork god palace that Anthony Bourdain showed, but did not specify, is a special treat. I will make a special pilgrimage there next time I am in Indonesia (two times a year minimum).

  11. Annie OakleyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hello, This is a pretty cool blog on ! Thanks a lot and have fun!

  12. Anthony Bourdain about his passion for Asian food | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

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  13. Hey Fatty! Get in Shape with these 5 Asian Diet Tips | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

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  15. CharlieNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Ibu Oka’s pork is one of the best, but Indonesia has another secret treasure for pork lovers. Bangka Island has one of the best sucking pig roasted with herbs and peanut, the chili sauce is also a superlative. I even had dreams about it :-)

  16. AlbertNo Gravatar TAIWAN Says:

    I’m going to Bali in 2 weeks, I’d love to know where that Anthony Bourdain waterfall is.

    Also, aside from Ibu Oka and dirty duck, anything else you can recommend for me to eat or see or do? Thanks.

  17. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Albert – an Anthony Bourdain Waterfall? I didn’t know they have one in Bali. Was it on one of his shows? Most waterfalls in Bali are in the North, the most famous one is Git-Git, a cascading waterfall with several trekking paths and view points. For other waterfalls, just rent a car, drive along the Northern Coast and look out for the signs “Air Terju”, which means Waterfall in Bahasa Indonesia. Another smaller one is off Bedugul, read more about it here.

  18. ErikaNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    I was googling Anthony Bourdain & found ur blog accidentally, love it. I’m also a big fan of Mr. Bourdain & pork. I had been to Ibu Oka also, she indeed has the best suckling pig in Bali, the 2nd best is Babi Guling Chandra in Denpasar.

    There are lots of pork menu in every island of Indonesia, u should try the Manadonese pork satay & other pork dishes there, usually spicy. Manado is the capital city of North Sulawesi, but u can find these dishes in most of Manadonese restaurants in Jakarta.

    Btw, i don’t like Bobby Chinn. How come he had a nerve to spit out a durian in his show & give negative reviews when he came to Jakarta…shame on u Bobby. I guess he has a lot to learn from the great Mr. Bourdain :-)

  19. davidNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Hey Christian,
    The Babi Guling in Batam is good too!
    Will love to try the ones at Bali though when I visit you in Bali ;P

    Your ex Colleague!

  20. davidNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    By the way….I was just googling “Best Babi Guling in Bali”and guess what, you blog came up! Your site is doing very well….Congrats! :)


  21. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    david, long time no see buddy, but as they say, you always meet twice in life – or more often for that matter, hehe! By all means, drop me a note, when you come and visit Bali and we will catch up again for a few cold ones. ;-)

    Erika, thanks for the friendly comment! I had the chance of eating pork near Manado already, when visiting Bunaken and Pulau Gangga and can confirm, that it’s really really good! Thanks for the recommendations!

    Although I don’t know who Bobby Chinn is? :-/

  22. arntNo Gravatar NETHERLANDS Says:

    I visisted Ubud, Bali in december 2009 and my mouth still starts to water when thinking of this succulent pork, it’s crackling glazed skin, the spicy sauce. Oh what joy to be alive, see the world and taste it’s true pleasures! I would now fly to Bali only for this pork as well. Ever since I visited I’ve been spreading the good news about it and just now was talking to a colleague about her planned trip to Indonesia next year. She will visit Bali and I just had to let her know. To show her what to look for I searched for “Ubud Bali best pork ever” and came across this site. It shouldn’t have surprised me that it has a worldwide following and Anthony Bourdain also thinks highly of it. After this site just use the ‘images’ setting on Google and dream away…. How cruel, I can only look at it now and remember: it’s best to have eaten it and have it out of reach, than never to have eaten it at all!

  23. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    arnt, hmmmmm, you have a good way to describing the Babi Guling in Bali and just reading your comment makes my mouth watery. Good, that for me the place is not so far away, just a good 40 minutes of a ride with my motor scooter through the rice fields.

    I’m sure, you will be back also soon – the way you rave about Ubud! And with the approaching cold season in Europe, Bali is really just a half day flight away. Amsterdam-Jakarta-Denpasar and you can cover your cravings in the most fulfilling way. :D

  24. VanessaNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    I went to Warung Ibu Oka’s (Auntie Oka’s Stall) just last week. The pork was really tasty but I had to run to the toilet within 30-40 minutes. Unfortunately all the people I went with (4 others) also got food poisoning which lasted a few days so beware.

  25. ArntNo Gravatar NETHERLANDS Says:

    Oh you lucky people, I wish I could order up some of that pork myself!

    Are you sure it was the pork itself, or just some of the condiments that gave you the food poisening? Either way, it wouldn’t stop me from having a go at it again. The pork I remember, is well worth a food poisening (just read my earlier posting).

    Over the years I’ve had several food poisenings on three continents and when all has passed I only maintain a physical recollection of the foods themselves, not the sickness.

    So who cares, what doesn’t kill you after all….. .

  26. Sue PattonNo Gravatar MALAYSIA Says:

    It was Anthony Bourdain who famously said:

    “OK. No question about it. This is the best pig I’ve ever had. Absolutely, the best. I mean is there anything more beautiful? Do you think that even the finest French chef could ever come up with anything as delicious or as beautiful as this? I think not. It’s the mountain-top of pork. And I am there.”

    This hyperbolically loaded review caused tons of tourists to make the “pilgrimage” to Ubud, Bali to try Ibu Oka’s Babi guling. To make matters worse, virtually every food critic, travel writer and almost everyone else, probably due to a deference to Bourdain’s “expert opinion” and like the “Emperor without clothes” agrees with Bourdain’s assessment wholeheartedly for fear of appearing unknowledgeable!

    That is not too reprehensible by itself, but causing thousands of food lovers to travel thousands of km to taste “the mountain top of pork” which even “the finest French chef” could not hope to match, is a travesty!

    Granted that taste can be subjective, but surely food critics owe it to their viewers/readers to remain objective?

    What my friends and I experienced was a sinking feeling of letdown when we bit into the crackling. You would need steel teeth like the movie villain “Jaws” in the James Bond epic, “The spy who loved me” and “Moonraker”. How many of us remember that movie giant? Without his steel cladded mandibles, you’d NEVER be able to bite into Ibu Oka’s Babi guling!

    We felt so sick in the stomach that we swore never to believe food critics again.

    In closing, isn’t it about time that we demand that food critics get real? If nothing else, at least for their own professional integrity? Bourdain and all the others: Are you taking this in?

  27. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Sue Patton, the problem with Ibu Oka is more, that it was good once. At the time when the articles was written, it wasn’t too long after Anthony Bourdain was there. Then it became famous. But due to the constant repeats of his series on TV, the never-ending stream of tourists caused definitely a decline in quality. If you think about, that makes sense…..before Ibu Okay maybe had 1 pig every day, shortly after Bourdain 5-10. The last numbers I heard are something between 30-40 pigs each (!) on their 2 locations. How can you sustain the same quality of a previously home-made (or should I say ‘aunty-made’) recipe? In Bali? Impossible! Another fine example where tourism killed authenticity and only left the hype. :(

  28. Don Girl ParkerNo Gravatar MALAYSIA Says:

    Both you Chris and Sue Patton are probably right. Yes, tourism has killed Ibu Oka’s authenticity and left only empty hype. The babi guling is probably the worst roast pork me and my husband has ever tried! The skin is not fit for human consumption…for wildlife perhaps…not humans!

  29. ArntNo Gravatar NETHERLANDS Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the disappointing experiences of other people. My own fabulous experience, only two years ago, couldn’t have been more different. Glazed, caramalized skin, lovely succulent spiced meat, just a dream gone by it seems now…. :(

    I can certainly understand the difference in quality between a lady cooking for the love of it and an enterprise for the profit. Mass production probably never did anything good for good food.

    What sweet sorrow, but is better to have tasted and lost it, than never to have tasted it at all (exept for the last few thousand customers or so).

    Next time I’ll just have to search and ask around for some auntie still doing her traditional craft, unspoiled by too many more of the likes of you and me! I’m certain that authenticty will always be reinvented somewhere.

    In the meanwhile, good hunting to the rest of you and do everybody a favour, don’t tell the world when you do find that quintessential food experience. I certainly would think twice from now on.

  30. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    +1 Arnt, you are so right and I couldn’t have said it better. And yeah, Don Girl Parker, no worries, there are other (smaller) places, that still sell Babi Guling made in the traditional way. That’s the good thing about Bali, just hop on your bike, drive around and explore the many options available! I will also surely not write about a place anymore, if I find again another suitable candidate for the best pork on the island. ;-)

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