Ubud, Bali might be renowned due to Eat, Pray, Love for better or worse as it suffers from unregulated growth and over tourism but it is really hard not to love the place and want to visit it more than once to enjoy the picturesque jungle setting, luxurious and affordable pool villas, and vibrant food scene. Yes, its vibrant food scene where you can experience diverse cuisines, including Indonesian food, which is underrated and lesser known that other global cuisines. In this post, we feature 3 places to eat at in Ubud for Indonesian food from the beloved and local favorite, to higher end restaurants.
Why we love Indonesian Food:
We love spicy, tangy, and bold flavours made from fresh ingredients which is why we love Balinese food. Babi guling (suckling pig), nasi goreng (fried rice), beef rendang (beef stew), pepes ikan (fish steamed in banana leaf with spices), various sambals that add flavour and heat, local fruits, and bubur hitam (sweet black rice pudding), we’ve often thought of moving to Indonesia or opening a street food style Indonesian restaurant where we live.
On our 5th visit to Bali, our driver to The Purist Villas got us really excited about eating Indonesian food when we discovered we both loved sambal matah. He also exclaimed that, if it’s not spicy, it’s not good, a sentiment we share.
Babi Guling at Ibu Oka:
While Indonesia is a Muslim country, Bali is Hindu and “babi guling” also knows as suckling pig is a beloved favorite to locals. Whenever we mention loving babu guling to a local, we usually get a smile and they share where their favorite place to have it is. One of the most popular places to get babi guling in Ubus Bali is Ibu Oka, visited by Anthony Bourdain. Ibu Oka is owned and operated by a local family that prepares the suckling pig the traditional way. If you are lucky enough, you will find out where the pig is being roasted and get to see the cooking process in action.
We’ve visited Ibu Oka about 10 times on our 5 visits to Bali since 2010 and the quality has remained the same as have the prices, which is shocking. For about $5.50USD, you get the standard plate that has all cuts of pork, including the deadly crispy skin, blood pudding sausage, with vegetables and rice. If you don’t want the “sosis” aka blood pudding sausage, let them know rather than waste it. The pork is spicy, moist, and flavourful and we both love the vegetables. This meal is best enjoyed with a cold Bintang Pilsner beer. We have brought family members here and overall they enjoyed but perhaps not as much as we did due to the style of restaurant which is very clean but still different than back home where we have air conditioning and more refrigeration. There are a few location but we always go to Warung Ibu Oka 3. Ibu Oka doesn’t have a website of their own but they are open everyday other than certain holidays between 11:00-18:00. We usually go before 12:00 as it can get busy when the tour busses arrive.
Hujan Locale is a restaurant that showcases a variety of Indonesian dishes across the islands in a casual but upscale setting. Owned and operated by Will Meyrick, a Scottish chef who was a judge on Top Chef Indonesia and also has restaurants in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Will Meyrick has traveled throughout Indonesia extensively to develop these recipes in the same way that Andy Ricker has traveled throughout Thailand to develop recipes to open up Northern Thai food restaurants in Portland Oregon.
We had the following dishes:
- Tuna betel leaf with lemongrass green tomato sambal matah and bumbu pasih
- Bebek goreng with sambal mango sambal hijau ikan asin manis & lemon basil
- Crispy squid with chili jam ginger flower lemongrass
- Lake Toba snapper ceviche marinated in kair lime juice andaliman peanut chili ginger flowers and served with krupuk peyek
- Nothern Sumatran octopus rendang with star anise fennel and chopped turmeric leaf
- “Open” coconut cheesecake
Hujan Locale is probably our favorite to enjoy local Indonesian Food prepared by chefs in a casual but finer dining setting. We’ve been to Hujan Locale about 7 times since 2016 and have never had anything that we did not enjoy; all the dishes combine balanced flavours and textures with fresh ingredients. On our last visit, one of our favorite dishes was the which reminded us on a tuna poke with Indonesians flavours. Due to us eating there so often, we were served a complimentary dessert which was a cheesecake and just by looking at this, you might find it boring but it delivered in ways that I never expected. In addition to offering cocktails, wine and local beers, they also have Tuatara Craft beer from New Zealand in bottles for about 95,000 Rupiah (sure it’s not cheap but a great option to have). We recommend inviting as many people as you know to share many dishes and making a reservation for dinner when it gets busy. During the dinner service, they offer complimentary crunchy chips with spicy and tangy sambal. Lunch is busy too but you can walk-in.
More information: https://hujanlocale.com/
Nusantara means “Archipelago” and is one of a few restaurants operated by the Locavore group.
We were drawn to Nusantara due to its wood-fired grill in the restaurant and interesting sambals and decided to make a dinner reservation to branch out and try one of the other higher end restaurants in Ubud. We had high expectations for our meal due to how nice the setting was, the service, and this delicious appetizer that included krupuk (crackers) with a diverse selection of Indonesian condiments.
We ordered the Oseng Jantung Pisang (stir-fried banana blossom served with garlic, shallots, chillies, and leeks), smoked pork (not on current menu), Cumi Bakar Padang (grilled baby squid served in a sauce made from turmeric, chillies, shallots, kapulaga, cumin, and coriander, rice, and sambal goreng, sambal goreng.
Sadly, the rest of the meal went downhill; the pork didn’t have much flavour and the sambals were way too spicy for us to eat (we love spicy food and have a decent threshold and can appreciate making the sambals authentic but it was inedible for us). In order to help with the spice, we were offered a tea that was delicious and very unique. They also offered us some sweets at the end of the meal; in season lychee fruit that wasn’t peeled which it awkward and delicious tamarind candies. We enjoyed all the complimentary offerings more than the meal which salvaged the experienced for us. We are including Nusantara in this list because we did enjoy the meal even if we were disappointed overall but we would go back and try to order different dishes.
More information: https://www.locavore.co.id/nusantara
These are 3 places we think those wanting to experience and enjoy Indonesian food might enjoy when visiting Ubud. The reason we love Ibu Oka so much is that it’s a smaller more traditional and local restaurant operated by a local family. We love Hujan Locale so much because it has a diverse menu of dishes across Indonesia in a setting that’s comfortable. While we were a little disappointed by Nusantara, it is a unique place and would like to try other of their dishes one day. These are just a few of the many places in Ubud that those with an appetite and adventurous palate can enjoy.
Do you enjoy trying local cuisine when you travel? Have you ever tried Indonesian food?
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