I first heard of Ibu Oka on Bourdain’s No Reservations episode of Indonesia, that look of bliss when he bites into that crisp pigskin has always given me the impression that it would be the the mecca for everything good about roasted pigs. I read about travelers flying in specially to eat here, I read most of the blog reviews, lets just say that expectations were high. I had ‘the works’ when I went to Ibu Oka, which basically consisted of a small bowl of soup, and a basket of rice with everything pig part that they served on the menu.
Nothing to write home about, it was tasty but pretty pedestrian.
The works (Thats not really what they call it, I just cant remember what its called)
The main part of the meal consists of rice with 4 components:
‘Salad’: Bits of shredded pork with long beans and carrots. Hardly what you came to Ibu Oka to have, but it was surprisingly good, had lots of good spice and the long beans had a good crunch to it. Okay
Fried pork bits(intestine, I believe): This is hiding under that pork skin in the picture. It was so hard that it was borderline inedible, it was tasty when you (eventually) managed to chew it down, but not before your jaw started cramping up and teeth started to ache. Bad
Pork meat: The best part of the meal, meat was tender, and the sauce they put on it was great- very spicy, but in a way that slowly creeps up on you as opposed to a slap in the face, it played off the pork very nicely. Good
Pork skin: This was supposed to be the star of the show, I saved it till the end because I was so excited about eating it. I took one bite of it and flipped out. It was… not crispy, at all. It was, in fact, chewy. Where the hell is the crunch that Bourdain got? Was that some audio effect that they added in during post production? Very bad
Worse than getting jilted at the alter
Ibu Oka was in one word, a letdown (the a doesn’t count). I dont dispute the possibility that standards may have dropped since Bourdain filmed at the restaurant in 2007, but this was pedestrian at best. And to think that I had so much hope for the meal, that I could actually say that I’ve eaten the best pork there is to eat and die happy, but no, this is far from the best, and the search continues. Anyone coming to Indonesia shouldn’t go out of their way for this because in all probability, you’re gonna end up disappointed. Prices aren’t exactly cheap, and service is pretty shoddy. To end on a positive note, I did get to stay at a nice hotel in Bali.