Written by Cisca Lim
Edited by Jiayi Ng
Everyone knows there’s good pork to be had in Bali – sow what?
Given that majority of Bali’s population hails from the Hindu community, the restriction to pork is not as strict as in other parts of Indonesia. And when you add local Balinese flavour to the succulent meat that so many love, you just can’t help but create a work of culinary art.
Case in point, Babi Guling – the most popular and mouth-watering suckling pork specialty in Bali. With numerous variations found in stalls all over the island, each Babi Guling has its own unique and authentic taste, some more popular than the others.
But we’re not interested in going where everyone’s going – true gluttons head where the best food can be found.
And you’re coming with us today! From the essential Babi Guling to adventurous hybrid dishes with Western and Asian influences, here are Bali’s best pork dishes that you’ll definitely want to pig out on:
1. The next “pig” superstar on the island – Babi Bagus, Denpasar
You can’t hide good things for long, and such is the case with Babi Bagus, which is now on its second outlet in Tuban.
Located in Umalas Denpasar, the first Babi Bagus is just a simple store by the narrow roadside with an equally humble setting.
The open-door stall houses long tables parked up to the wall and several chairs. Next to it is a small glass display where the ingredients are, along with a gorgeous looking whole pancetta-like pork creation called porchetta!
Don’t judge it by its simple appearance, though. With portions ranging from normal to a larger special, Babi Bagus is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Served separately from rice on a rattan plate is a juicy chopped tenderloin topped with a Balinese spice sauce, deep-fried pork intestines and lawar (traditional Balinese mixed vegetables with coconut, satay and pork crackling). You’ll even get a tasty bowl of soup to balance out the dryness!
Set up by three young Balinese who experimented with Pancetta back during their Melbourne-college days, Babi Bagus aims to be original and yet stay faithful to the local flavour. Judging by what we’ve seen so far, they’ve definitely delivered on that promise.2. Queue up for the divine pork skewers: Sate Babi Bawah Pohon
What’s Indonesia without its legendary ‘sate’? And what’s Bali without Sate Babi Bawah Pohon, also known as the sate stall under a tree (it used to be, but they recently moved away!)?
Those pork skewers attract crowds of babi-lovers! The stall started small, owned by a lady but is now directed by a whole crew! It is that good and that popular among locals!
Don’t expect these to be adjusted to foreigners’ tastes – just be ready for the spicyness! But according to us, it is just right! Some might want to bite on the extra chillies on the side too.
The pork is perfectly grilled – tender and juicy and all soaked in flavours and spices, while the sauce drips – sweet, savoury and a little spicy. This is a one-of-a-kind street food experience you shouldn’t miss while in Bali!
Pick between a bowl of rice and some rice cakes or simply choose to level up on your sate pieces! Each portion comes with 8 skewers but it’s never too much sate when it’s from Sate Babi Bawah Pohon!
3. Euphoria for pork lovers – Souphoria Bali, Seminyak.
It’s all about pork with Souphoria! One look at the menu sheet, and you’ll be spoiled for choice with all its pork-centric dishes.
It may be situated by a quiet road amongst rice terrace fields, but that’s not stopping many people from flocking to this place to get a taste of its fine Crispy Pork Belly Sambal Matah. Not only is the food delicious, the restaurant’s quirky decor adds on to an interesting dining experience.
The signature Crispy Pork Belly Sambal Matah is a wholesome plate of white rice with a side of crackers and tender pork belly meat. Mix it all up with the generous local matah sauce, and you’ve got a satisfying meal that is every bit addictive and spicylicious.
Then there’s their signature Pork Ribs Soup that’s almost similar to your usual oxtail soup, but with the added sweetness that only a long-boiled pork rib can offer. Another favourite is the Pork Belly Spicy Salted Egg and the unique newcomer, Spicy & Sour Pork Ear.
We think they should just rename themselves Euphoria, because that’s what we feel looking at these pictures.
4. Western-style porky food porn – Pork Star, Seminyak
Pork Star is a quirky eatery with a pink container parked before the restaurant serving as their kitchen. Why pink? Well, it’s the colour of a pig!
Don’t let the pink get you thinking that this is just another fluffy eatery, because these guys are serious about their pork menu. Start off with the famous Pork Dynamite, a bite-size serving of six mozzarella cheese and pork bacon wraps.
Then there’s Pork Star’s Pork Belly, served with steamed rice, a side of French Fries and your choice of sauce. Munch down on the succulent and tender, juicy meat – never has so much satisfaction existed in one bite.
More deliciousness can be found in their menu, such as the Nasi Campur Pork Star and Mixed Platter for sharing with friends (or gobbling down by yourself!).
True to its name, pork is the star of the show here, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
5. A small hidden gem for spicy pork – Warung Cahaya, Seminyak
*Temporarily closed due to COVID-19*
Just an unpretentious and small eating space with a local vibe, Warung Cahaya keeps it simple and nice with light decorations in a bright-themed cafe.
But don’t be fooled by its sweet appearance! When it comes to serving a mean pork dish, their fried pork with sambal matah can do more than just deliver. The meat is deep-fried to a perfect caramel brown with a texture that’s soft and juicy at the same time.
As for the matah sauce, the shallot tastes fresh and the spiciness of the chili is just flawless. Along with the warm rice, every hot bite makes you sweat and wince but the urge to munch on continues.
Due to its rising popularity, an insider tip recommends that you make a quick call before visiting to make sure that they still have the matah sauce left. You’re also advised to come early. There might be a bit of a wait, but it’s going to be well worth it!
6. The piggy superhero and its soupy sidekick – Warung Babi Guling & Balung Kuah Bu Dayu, Kuta
*Temporarily closed due to COVID-19*
Around 6pm until late at night everyday, a small commotion happens along the busy roadside of Kuta. Don’t worry, the only thing they’re fighting for is a taste of Bu Dayu’s Babi Guling.
Served by the owner herself, what makes this pork dish noteworthy is the small bowl of Balung Kuah that comes with it. If Batman has Robin, Bu Dayu’s Babi Guling has Balung Kuah. This perfect sidekick to the main dish is a refreshing soup boiled from pork bones and feet, then seasoned with spices for that light hot taste when it hits your palate.
As for the main star, it’s a plateful of warm white rice topped with tender pork meat, fried pig intestines, a shard of pig skin, satay, lawar and urap – both Balinese mixed vegetables with coconut shreds.
Many have raved about how authentic Bu Dayu’s creation is as it has a heavy hint of aromatic spices. The drool-inducing meat also has a well-balanced flavour with just the perfect level of spiciness.
With such culinary perfection lying in wait, what are you waiting for? There’s no need to dress up for Bu Dayu – just come early before it’s all sold out!
7. Sinful, addictive, and porkilicious – Babi Guling Pak Dobiel/ Sari Dewi, Nusa Dua
This warung is nothing fancy, but if you believe in love at first sight, then a plate of Babi Guling Pak Dobiel is going to have you hooked for more.
Your true love is served on a glass plate along with heaps of delicious condiments, including pork satay, sinful lard, juicy chopped meat and a side of bean sprouts along with other vegetables. Last but not least, the lightly salted crackling pork skin placed on top is simply icing on the cake.
Whether you want to mix it all up or not, each spoonful promises you a crunchy, lardy, and salty goodness. If you’re feeling up for some extra savouriness, you can also request for some pork innards.
This Babi Guling also comes with a bowl of soup for an extra surcharge, but how could you leave this romance incomplete? Add away for the complete Pak Dobiel experience!
8. Still one of the best-kept local secrets – Babi Guling Sari Kembar, Seminyak, Kuta
Located a little out of the way from main Seminyak, Babi Guling Sari Kembar is probably the most recommended warung by the locals in the area.
They all love it for the obvious reasons: it’s authentic, delicious and affordable. There’s no fancy business here – Babi Guling Sari Kembar is a no nonsense warung serving those who are looking for a quick yet scrumptious Babi Guling fix.
Watch as the seller’s quick hands mix the plate of rice and decorate it with a fatty sausage, sweet meat, satay, lawar, cassava leaf, and tender old pork. The finishing touch is a few pieces of sweet crackling pig skin and a big cracker.
There are four things to choose from the menu: nasi campur (mixed rice), nasi pisah (rice served separately), nasi spesial (special rice) and nasi campur special (special mixed rice), with varying prices. While they differ in portion and serving method, rest assured, for the heavenly taste is something that remains.
Well, choosing to have your rice served separately would result in a slightly pricier bill, but hey, good things are worth paying for.
9. The early bird gets the pork – Selingsing Cepaka, Tabanan
Your quest for the best Babi Guling may just end here – that is, if you can wake up for it.
This little warung is actually located in someone’s house, down an alley in Buduk. There are no signs to direct you, but the tempting smell of roasting pork will guide you in the right direction. It’s also only open from 2am to 9am in the morning, so no more lazing in bed!
It’ll definitely be worth it, don’t worry. Everything about the Babi Guling here is perfect – the skin is so crispy, the pork so tender, and servings are more than generous.
We recommend that everyone tries this Babi Guling at least once. If it sounds like just the thing to tickle your taste buds, you should absolutely get up early for this splendid ‘secret’ meal – you won’t regret it!
10. Old is gold – Babi Guling Men Suka, Kuta
Located in the corner of the Kuta district right across Hotel Grand Kuta is a small Babi Guling warung with over 30 years of experience.
The joint is far from fancy and slightly under-the-radar, but it’s always packed, particularly during lunch time, with people who can’t get enough of the affordable and authentic dish.
Photo Via Putrasj_Ketut