BALI’S BEST BABI GULING
What’s it like to discover Bali’s juiciest roasted suckling pig when you’re starving, tired and on a tight budget? You’re about to find out.
We had just arrived in Ubud, a few hours north from the tourist-crazy Kuta on the island of Bali. As usual, it took us a good two hours to find a place to crash for a few days. Living on $30/day forces you to be tight with your money at times. So naturally, we always wanted the most bang for our buck when it came to choosing accommodation, especially when your budget is only $4/night. This can be an arduous, if not painful, task.
That said, it wasn’t long before we got sorted out in a great little guest house and went for some food. It was lunchtime and we were hungry. That’s when we stumbled across Bu Oka, and Babi Guling. It is pronounced “Bobby Gooling” (and yes, the name conjures up images of some meathead jock that would probably shake you down for your milk money, but rest assured, if this was a jock, it would be the sweetest, most tender jock you ever met!)
Babi Guling is suckling pig, and probably one of Bali’s most famous dishes; and Bu Oka is probably the most famous place serving that sweet little piggy.
It was the first time I had ever seen a pig make such a dramatic entrance. Just as we were deciding what to eat, we see this scooter drive past us and on the back is this guy holding this giant tray above his head. We instantly recognized the body of a pig on said tray. We followed with our eyes as he got off the scooter and carried an entire roasted pig on a tray past us. We had the biggest smiles on our faces. We stood in awe as that woman grabbed its beautiful, dark brown crispy belly and ripped it back like she was a child dripping open presents under the Christmas tree. You could hear the crackle of the skin. Onomatopoeia never sounded so sexy. After taking so long to sort out accommodation, it was nice to have such an easy decision on what to eat. That entrance would make any vegetarian reconsider their dietary choices.
For less than $4, we were served a heaping portion of freshly sliced Babi, with rice, crispy skin, and a chilli vegetable relish. The roasted suckling pig was as tender and delicious as it looked. It melted in your mouth as you chewed through it, with soft textures and subtle flavours. The skin was perfect, crispy and full of taste. That is what is so great about warungs and street stalls in Asia; they don’t over complicate things. They make a limited number of dishes, with a limited number of ingredients and perfect them. We were fortunate to stumble across Bu oka, that day with its famous Babi Guling, and the sound of that skin cracking open will stay in our memories for many years to come.