The pride and glory of Bebek Bengil, the Crispy Duck
The idyllic tourist destination is no stranger to scrumptious culinary eateries around the island, and Bebek Bengil has become one of them. For all travellers to Ubud, this establishment has become a must-visit since its opening in 1990. Their timeless recipe for Balinese-style duck has welcomed the appetites of locals, foreigners, presidents, and even rock star Mick Jagger.
The restaurant was founded by Ibu Agung and Gde Raka, a husband and wife duo, who wanted to branch out from their art gallery business. As they owned a property nestled between the iconic paddy fields, they decided to build a restaurant that focuses on traditional Balinese cuisine. With a space perfect to seat 300 guests, all they needed was a name.
On one fine rainy day, a fortunate accident took place. A flock of wet, muddy ducks, made their way into the property and waddled around. The founders saw that it was a blessing in disguise as these fowl friends were their very first guests. That was the beginning of Bebek Bengil history as in Balinese, bengil translates to ‘dirty’. This gave the founders a base for its catchy tagline of ‘dirty duck diner’.
Thirty years has passed and competition around the island is showing up in abundance. But even through the years Bebek Bengil is still a crowd favorite, with their Crispy Duck still owning its star status. Currently, the restaurant serves more than 300 Crispy Ducks on a typical day. On peak season, orders can even go up to the thousands, catering to tourists from around the world.
The secret behind every mouth watering plate of Crispy Duck is in the eclectic mix of local spices and herbs
So what is their secret? From quality ingredients to an age-old recipe, it lies in every step of preparation. Bebek Bengil carefully selects and uses only locally farmed ducks. At the first step of cooking, their meat is marinated in a mixture of Balinese herbs and spice that only founder Ibu Agung knows. After hours of marination, the meat is then boiled to rid off any odour. It’s also the secret to getting that good level of tenderness. It is then deep-fried to a golden brown perfection for that unforgettable first bite.
When served, Bebek Bengil’s Crispy Duck is accompanied with fragrant white rice, Balinese-style mixed fresh vegetables, and 3 different types of spicy sambal sauce and relishes. It's best eaten with hands, especially as you lick off the bits of crispy skin and tender meat. Don’t forget to dip it into one of the spicy condiments- the kick from spiciness elevates the flavors of the duck.
A popular favorite is the fresh sambal matah, a local raw relish made mainly from shallots, lemongrass, and bird’s eye chillies. Let’s just say, it’s ducking good food.
Every cut of duck is deep fried to a golden brown crisp perfection
The dish is a game changer as it was the first time duck was incorporated to a menu in a restaurant. In Balinese culture, duck was primarily served as a ceremonial dish in Bali. It’s safe to say that Bebek Bengil simply paved a path for the dish to become part of the mainstream palate.
Other duck dishes include Grilled Duck and Duck Curry Soup, with the ubiquitous Nasi Campur Bebek (mixed rice duck) and Nasi Goreng Bebek (duck fried rice). Many of these dishes are even recipes made by the founder herself.
But if duck is not up your culinary alley, the restaurant has its chicken equivalent as terrific options. Want the best of both worlds? Try their Sate Lilit, as it comes in duck, chicken, and even fish variations.
What’s a trip to Bali without a taste of the classic Sate Lilit? The skewered mince meat mix uses lemongrass as sticks, as opposed to thin, wooden ones
If you’re seeking other traditional dishes, we highly recommend the Tipat Blayag from northern Bali. Made from rice cake, smoked chicken, egg and crispy peanut crackers, it's a flavorful dish worth exploring. Seafood and vegetarian dishes are also offered here to cater to tastebuds aplenty.
Hours: Everyday, 10 AM - 10 PM
Balinese-style duck has made its waves in the global culinary scene as a must-try duck dish. In another part of Indonesia, fried duck is also a popular delight in the island of Madura in East Java. This dish is more street than table and rose to fame for its spicy sambal paste. Made from caramelized garlic and red chilies, it is turned into a black paste, which is slabbed generously over the duck.
Another good take on duck many hunt for is the roasted duck rice. Served mainly in hawker centres, it’s a humble dish with thinly sliced deboned duck and white rice. A popular dish in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, the roots of the meal come from a heavy Chinese influence.
In Chinese cuisine itself, the Peking duck is a world-renowned dish that’s famed for the thin, crispy skin and lean meat. The whole method of serving is a theatrical performance, and origins of the recipe trace all the way back to the Ming Dynasty.
Meanwhile in the Philippines, they do duck in a slightly less conventional way. Balut is a poached fertilized duck embryo and a popular street food dish. The way to consume it is by boiling the egg first, and eating it directly from the shell. Though it might be controversial, it is known to be a great cure for post-night out headaches (if you know what I mean).