This humble mixed pork rice that is rich in flavour and packs a spicy punch is probably the most iconic Balinese cuisine. Different from the Chinese version of roasted suckling pig, the Balinese version is stuffed with seasoned cassava leaves and spices before it’s put to roast over charcoal fire, resulting in a flavourful, juicy meat and crispy pork skin. A set of nasi babi guling comes with the meat, crispy pork skin, pork rind, pork satay also known as satay lilit, blood sausage and heaps of chilli. From roadside warung to stylish cafes and fine-dining restaurants, the dish can easily be found in its most authentic form or re-interpreted, deconstructed or fusionised into a modern Balinese-western dish.
Whenever I am in Bali, be it for work or holiday, I make it a point to try a different warung nasi babi guling. Here are the ones that tops my list.
Babi Guling Chandra (Kuta area)
This place has been the favourite staple among the locals for more than 40 years and is popular among Indonesian and Asian tourists. While most Warung Babi Guling only specialises in 1 dish, this place is also popular for their Ayam Betutu. It has a spacious dining area, making it an ideal choice if you’re planning to dine with your family or wedding entourage.
Jl. Teuku Umar No. 140, Denpasar.
Opens daily from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Approx Rp.40,000/US$2.80 per portion
Babi Guling Pak Dobiel (Nusa Dua area)
It was one of our clients, i.e. the groom who introduced this place. To avoid the crazy traffic jam in Bali, he wanted us to tapau (take-away) lunch for his family and bridal party on the day of their arrival into Bali and it has to be none other than Babi Guling Pak Dobil. So naturally, my team and I had our lunch there and it was love at first bite!
Jl. Srikandi #9, Nusa Dua.
Rp.50,000/US$3.80 per portion
Babi Guling Men Agus (Canggu)
Funny story about how I discovered this place. So, I was in Bali for meetings and site inspections. On the day of departure, I was running late to the airport due to the horrendous traffic after visiting one of the villas. However, as I was starving, I asked the driver if he could stop by anywhere convenient on the way to the airport. So, he stopped at (what I thought was) a random warung and told me he’ll go and pack the lunch while I waited in the car. He said it’s not a popular spot but it’s one of the best Babi Guling in the island. At that time, Canggu was nothing more than a sleepy back village hideaway compared to its neighbouring towns – Kuta and Seminyak. Unfortunately, the warung did not provide any disposable cutleries. So with the food wrapped up in brown paper (like nasi bungkus), I sat in the back seat of the car, chomping down the rice like a real glutton with one hand while the other hand was trying to balance the packet of rice to ensure it didn’t spill. Not only that, I was suffering from the extreme spiciness as the chilli was all mixed up inside. As soon as I arrived at the airport, I rushed to the toilet to wash my hands and then rushed to one of the cafes to purchase a bottle of mineral water. I still made it in time for my flight thanks to the crazy driving skills of my driver cum guide. Needless to say, this meal definitely made a lasting impression and for the longest time, I thought that perhaps it was due to hunger or the novelty of eating with my hands that made it taste so good. It was not until 2 years ago, I made it a point to go back to this warung for lunch that I was convinced, it’s definitely one the best in the island!
Jl. Bay Pass Munggu, Canggu
Rp40,000 / US$2.80 per portion
Babi Guling Pak Malen (Seminyak area)
If you’ve been to Bali more than once, you’re probably no stranger to Babi Guling Pak Malen because it is strategically located in Seminyak, making it a hotspot for tourists as it can easily be spotted along the busy Sunset Road especially during lunch hours when the queue extends out onto the street sides. When I first discovered this stall more than 10 years ago, it was my favourite ‘must go’ eatery whenever I was in Bali. However, it’s no longer in my top three as I felt that their quality has dropped substantially. Nonetheless, it is convenient to get to and one of the places you can recommend to your wedding guests.
Jl. Sunset Road No. 554, Seminyak.
Opens daily from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Rp.50,000/US$3.80 per portion
by Natasha Khoo