Mention Bali and the first thing that comes to mind are sandy beaches upon crystal clear water, luxurious hotels and stunning sunsets. A trip to Ubud however, will quickly confirm that there is more to Bali that the beach. Ubud is located up north, deep into the forested heartland of Bali. This mountainous region has always been known as the center of arts and culture in Bali, but recently it has also grown in popularity as the place to go for excellent traditional Balinese food.
One of my favorite place to eat in Ubud is without a doubt Naughty Nury’s Warung. They serve some of the best ribs I have ever tasted, marinated to juicy perfection with traditional spices and sambal. This twist to a staple Western dish has seen many other restaurants trying to replicate the formula, with the term “Ubud-style Ribs” becoming a staple all over Bali (and now even in Jakarta as well). To try out as well their mean martinis, which Anthony Bourdain has once proclaimed “as good as New York”.
If you’re looking for something more authentic, then fret not. Ubud has plenty other Warungs serving authentic Balinese food. One of the most famous one is Ibu Oka Babi Guling, which is a humble thatched hut selling Babi Guling (Roasted Pork, Balinese Style). The meat is cooked tender and the rice is splashed with a generous dose of flavor. Beware tho, the dish is very spicy!
Another staple in a tourists’ culinary checklist would be the Dirty Duck Diners. This restaurant boasts a very relaxed atmosphere and laid-back views, with the location being right next to paddy fields. The restaurant serves various dishes, including their own version of Babi Guling. However, the par for course here is the Original Crispy Duck, or the Nasi Campur Bebek (Duck Mixed Rice).
A recent new addition to the list is Nasi Ayam Kedewatan (Kedewatan Chicken Rice), a burgeoning warung that is popular with the locals and are quickly gaining popularity amongst tourists as well. Their menu is minimalistic to the extreme, with only two options of food for you to choose from – Nasi Ayam Campur or Nasi Ayam Pisah. Basically, it’s the same thing, with the only difference in that one is already mixed together, while the other one is separated in a different serving.
All in all, the Ubud area is one with plenty of choices for you. If you are not so adventurous when it comes to food, fret not, there are also various restaurants serving standard Western fare, and also various Japanese and or Korean restaurants.