The Best Pig

After waiting three days for Ibu Oka since arriving in Ubud Christmas Day to open (they were closed for Christmas Day up to Galungan), I was at the branch at Jl Suweta just across Ubud Palace promptly at 11 am wanting to beat the lunch time crowd. Took a table near the counter and ordered the “special” (Rp 70) which comes with a small grilled blood sausage, fried intestines, and vegetables.

I eagerly looked forward to digging into the mound of rice topped with slices of the tasty meat and crunchy skin of the babi guling slathered with Ibu Oka’s famous sauce.

Unfortunately, it was disappointing. Gone was my “this is so delicious” feeling the first time I had babi guling here several years ago and again just a couple of years back. The meat was sliced too thinly for me to actually taste, much more, chew on it. And the skin! The crown jewel of any self-respecting Asian roasted pig was leathery! I actually bought a packet of keropuk to get some crunch in my meal. I was so disappointed, I made a mental note of eating lechon when I get back home in Manila to make-up for it. What happened? Did Ibu Oka and her pig go by the way of other commercial establishments that lose its sparkle once they earn their tourist fame? At least the service was still efficient and friendly.

I hadn’t finished my yet and I was already googling “best babi guling in Ubud.” That’s how disappointed I was. Gung Cung came up and it led me to the reviews at Trip Advisor. They were glowing with many reviewers choosing it over Ibu Oka. I paid for my meal at the counter and headed north of Jl Suweta past the 3rd branch of Ibu Oka, saw the sign, and saw that the place was . . . CLOSED!! That’s two sinking feelings within the span of an hour. Not good. Not good at all. It was definitely not my babi guling day.

So today, with hope and a prayer to the gods of Bali, I once more took the long road from my homestay near the end of Jl Hanoman to Jl Suweta with nary a glance at Ibu Oka. Okay, I did peep just to see if there was a crowd at a little past 11. Nah! Just like yesterday. Tables were available. Once more, I passed Ibu Oks 3 and saw the sign and saw that it was . . . OPEN! Perhaps proof that this was the home of the better pig, there was a small crowd of locals waiting for their take-out orders. A woman busy wrapping orders directed me to the second floor for dine-in. There were a few diners there. I ordered a “special” to eat and another one to take-out (just because). It was just as the reviews said it was. The meat slices were thicker and more succulent and the skin was so crispy!

My take-out order which I promptly ate when I got back at the homestay was the same quality. I have found the winning pig.

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