When in Bali you must visit Ubud, when in Ubud you must visit these three restaurants. Smoked Duck (Bebek Betutu) at Bebek Bengil (Dirty Duck Diner), Suckling Pig (Babi Guling) at Ibu Oka and Cultural Show at Cafe Lotus. All institutions in Ubud’s eating. While arguably not the best restaurants in Ubud or the ‘foodies’ choice they do offer the perfect introduction to Balinese food and are all easy to locate in Ubud city centre within walking distance of one another. As with Ubud expect tourists (For some of the local and off the beaten track favourites check comments at the bottom).
Ibu Oka for Suckling Pig (Babi Guling)
Suckling Pig fit for a King. The exact reason why Ibu Oka Babi Guling exists. Originally the Palace’s personal chef the King felt Ibu Oka’s Suckling Pig was too tasty to hog. He opened a street food stall opposite and Ibu Oka now shares with the world. So why is their food so good? A secret. Ibu Oka’s suckling pig and secret sauce are both prepared offsite (don’t expect smoking spit roasts). Suckling pig is quintessential Balinese street food. Ibu Oka the perfect place to find it. Ideal for a quick breakfast, lunch or snack stop. A small menu. So small it can fit in the following lines… Three main options on the Ibu Oka menu are Pork Meat with Skin (Dagin), Pork Skin only (Kulit) and Fried Pork Meat and Skin with veg, rice and Blood Sausage (Spesial). Optional added extras include fried meat (Gorengan), Pork Soup (sop babi) and blood sausage (Sosis Dipanggang). Ibu Oka is rough and ready street side eating. Sit under parasols out front or haunch up on knees at the inside tables.
Where is Ibu Oka? Located opposite the palace and next to main drop off point in Ubud centre.
Bebek Bengil for Smoked Duck (Dirty Duck Diner)
If planning on sampling Bebek Bengil’s famous smoked duck (Bebek Betutu) you must order a day in advance. The length of time it takes to smoke the duck. Smoked with spices while wrapped in a betel leaf. While there is a diverse menu here I would advise to stick with the Indonesian, Balinese and of course Duck Dishes. Why? On our recent visit the service was shambolic. So shambolic I can’t help sharing. The ducks arrive to sit 20 mins with no plates or utensils. Menus start to be taken away before people have even ordered. Three wrong main courses. One extra main course. Steaks served with fork and spoon. A main course cancelled as the rest of the table order dessert. Continuously waiting for something to be corrected. The final bill twice wrong only fixed after confronting the manager. Admittedly there was 14 at the table but seeing the size of this place the service needs to be a whole lot better. Wonder if Mick Jagger and Sting encountered similar problems. Anyway for the food Bebek Bengil is a must. For rice paddy views book a table in the bamboo huts. For service… good luck. For full menu check the Bebek Bengil website.
Where is Bebek Bengil? Closer to the Ubud Monkey Forest (Jalan Hanoman, +62 361 975489)
Cafe Lotus for Cultural Show
And of course top notch food. I can personally recommend the Mini Rijsttafel a traditional Indonesian mix of Bebek betutu (smoked duck), chicken with sambal, prawns, pork & chicken sates, sayur urap (mixed Bali vegetables), potato croquettes all piled round a tower of nasi tumpeng (rice cone). The main attraction at this restaurant is its views. Front row tables overlooking a pond of Lotus and the nightly cultural performances at Pura Saraswati Temple. On our recent visit the Legong Dance and a backdrop of Balinese dance and Gamelan. Cultural shows start 9pm. Arrive before 7pm for drink promotions (20% off Wine). Local Balinese Wines worth a try; Two Islands, Artisan and Hatten all on the menu. Cafe Lotus is one of the more pricier restaurants in Ubud centre. Example below an extract image from menu; service charge (5%), taxes (10%) and minimum charge per person for front row tables (175,000IDR). For full menu check the Cafe Lotus Ubud Website.