Balinese Food: The Battle of Balinese Crispy Duck
By Marchellinus Hanjaya - Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015
Everyday is Sunday in Bali, the vacation island of Indonesia, so they say. Tourists throng the sidewalks, shops, clubs and, of course, restaurants, as Balinese food and flavours are tourist-friendly. There are two distinct characteristics about Balinese food – freshness and spiciness – a very popular combination in many lands but they do it with finesse in Bali. .
One of the most visited area in the island is Ubud, which is becoming more popular since the movie Eat, Pray, Love filmed segments there. Although they didn’t film the “eat” in Bali (a real pity), the movie spoke no less about the food of this ancient island. Her tranquil paddy terraces are popular lures for tourists in search of peace, calm and some seriously fresh air. But we’re all about food today.
Just a couple of decades ago, Ubud became known for its crispy fried duck (Bebek Goreng), a simple deep-fried fowl crispy on the outside with juicy and moist thick meat inside. The crispiness is seductive. Even some boney parts are crispy, and it cracks ever so lightly. Every duck served is beautifully seasoned, boiled or steamed, then deep-fried to perfection. The texture of the meat is soft, and the seasoning gets into the bones.
There are three names behind this iconic dish in Bali. All of them offer the same style of crispy duck with the same atmosphere and experience, by the verdant rice fields. The taste, appearance, and price are quite similar, so the customers will not be confused with differing styles. But, some people have their own preferences. So, let’s cruise the choices.
1. Bebek Bengil
“Bebek Bengil” literally means “dirty duck”. This restaurant started to introduce crispy duck on their simple and humble menu in the ‘90s. One day, a flock of wet and smelly ducks flew through the restaurant and the owners saw it as a sign to name the place after the incident. Not too long afterwards, people began to recognise them as the best crispy duck restaurant on the island.
They serve half a duck with a slice of watermelon, a couple of orange slices, urap (raw salad) and three kinds of sambal. It’s not an everyday combination for us, but, everything sits well together. The star was the Balinese sambal matah that gave the full-bodied fragrance of coconut oil.
Jl. Hanoman, Padang Tegal
+62 361 975 489
2. Bebek Tepi Sawah
From the name, you will already know that the restaurant is located next to a paddy rice field, but that’s not 100% right. Actually, they have the rice field at the centre of the dining area, so the customers are able to have the full experience enjoying their meals in a real rice field.
The seasoning of the duck meat in this restaurant is a bit bolder. It would please those who like the robustness of this dish.
Jl Raya Goa Gajah, Peliatan
+62 361 975 656
3. Laka Leke
This garden restaurant is a bit hidden from the maddening crowd of Ubud. Just a few kilometres from the monkey forest and few small lanes later sits this hidden culinary sanctuary. “Laka Leke” means “hideaway”.
Although they serve the same style of crispy duck, with the same experience of the paddy rice field view, they have one little edge- the special killer sambal that they make themselves. If the ordinary chilli paste doesn’t do it for you, ask for the real thing here. You’ve been warned.
Jl. Nyuh Kuning No. 32
+62 361 977 565