Bebek Bengil – it means Dirty Duck in Indonesian and was one of the restaurants we visited during our trip to the Bali. Despite any insinuations that you might gather from the name itself, the story behind the name itself is quite cute. The way the story goes is that when the restaurant was first built, they struggled to find a suitable name for it until a flock of ducks flew in from a nearby rice field and left muddy webbed footprints all over the place. These ‘dirty ducks’ have been considered the restaurant’s first ‘guests’ and so the restaurant was named.
While we were planning our holiday and Bali was chosen, the Dirty Duck Diner came up quite a few times as a must-eat-at place by our family and friends. And so, inevitably, this became the first item on our itinerary for our first full day in Bali. Located in Ubud, it’s about 35 kilometres from the Seminyak/Kuta area where we were staying. Not too far, but due to the local traffic consisting of a single lane roads and practically suicidal motorbike and scooter riders, the going is slow and the drive there took over an hour. Luckily, Felix’s uncle had graciously organised a driver for us, so we were able to sit back and enjoy the ride up the mountains, through the scattered villages and past numerous rice paddies.
On arriving, we’re dropped off at the front door. The street front is on the main street and as you walk up the stairs, you’re flanked on both sides by bowls of fragrant floating flowers and a greeted by large vacant dining area. I imagine that this fills up during dinner time when safety comes in numbers when the mosquitos start coming out at night. We requested to be seated at the back of the restaurant near the rice fields and we’re initially led past fountains, lily ponds and landscaped rice paddies which play a further homage to Bebek Bengil‘s beginnings. We arrive at a dining area with the stock standard table and chair seating, however, spying a family leaving from one of the Balinese pavilions we immediately ask to be relocated. The seating in the pavilions can easily seat 8, so I’m glad that there’s no objections to our request – allowing us to lounge around in luxury with plush pillows and a birds-eye view of the rice field beyond the restaurant.
To say that the location was relaxing would be an understatement. With a gentle breeze from the overhead fan, the sounds of the fountains trickling and a full stomach, it was hard not to be tempted to lie down and take a nap – funnily enough, that’s exactly what the members of the table opposite us did before they paid the bill and left. Perhaps we still hadn’t managed to reach that level of relaxation being the first day on holiday, so unfortunately we didn’t follow suit. :)
Aunt Mitzi’s Chicken Soup
The story that came with this dish was that ‘Aunt Mitzi’ drank this soup every day and lived to be 105, and so not so subtly implying the nutritional quality of the dish. Not that they were unjustified in doing so. The soup was crystal clear with bits of chicken breast meat, rice and chunks of vegetables – it simply oozed wholesomeness. It’s such a simple peasant dish like the kind of soup that my grandmother used to make, but it was the kind of soup that not only made you feel healthy, but also made you feel like your were being loved from the inside out.
Cumi Goreng Bumbu Bali
Next up, we had fried squid, coated with flour and a mixture of Balinese spices. It was crunchy and light, and nicely teamed with the sweet, sour, salty and spicy sauce that came with it.
And then, there was the main attraction of the day, and the signature dish – bebek bengil. Firstly the duck is steamed then deep fried resulting in tender duck meat covered in crisp duck skin. It came with the option of having rice or potatoes as an accompaniment. Of course, Felix being the fanatic lover of rice that he is went with rice, I went with potatoes. In an homage to my grandfather who can’t leave a good piece of bone untouched, I couldn’t help but nibble on a couple of the crunchy deep fried bones.
Pepes Ikan Bumbu Bali
Something similar to otak otak which uses a fish paste, this was instead a fillet of fished coated in a spicy mix of Balinese spices wrapped in a banana leaf and then steamed. Interestingly, the rice that came with this was a mixed with cubes of potatoes with gave it a unique flavor and texture.
Jalan Hanoman, Padang Tegal, Ubud, Bali P: 361 975 489 or 361 977 675 F: 361 975 489
Bebek Bengil (Dirty Duck Restaurant)
Jalan Hanoman, Padang Tegal, Ubud, Bali
P: 361 975 489 or 361 977 675 F: 361 975 489