Bebek Bengil: Eating Delicious Dirt

You’re dhespithable!

Bebek BengilBut, thankfully, the food at Bebek Bengil, one of Bali’s most famous restaurants that opened in Jakarta, is not.

Although Daffy might still complain.

Bebek Bengil literally means Dirty Duck in Balinese and although it may sound “dhespithable” to devour such food, it actually requires meticulous detail in preparing it: Daffy is steamed with Indonesian spices to the right temperature then deeply fried, resulting in a tender duck meat covered in crisp duck skin, served with either steamed rice and Balinese vegetables or sautéed potatoes and a side salad.

Or so I was told.

I couldn’t do that to Daffy, but I did see my friends who couldn’t leave the bone untouched, nibbling on a couple of the crunchy deep fried bones. Finger lickin’ good, they sayand tastes like chicken! 

Which is why I ordered Chicken.

The way the story goes is that when the restaurant was first built, the owner 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.

When they first opened near Kathy’s CNN Jakarta Bureau, I was initially quite perplexed as to how Bebek Bengil could transport its signature scenic view from Bali to crowded Jakarta.

Did they prove me wrong.

Not only were they able to create a whole-new ambiance in Jakarta, they were also successful in retaining their signature taste. The menu includes special order dishes that should be booked in advance, though, such as Balinese Smoked Duck, a whole duck smoked in the traditional way with spices and wrapped in Areca nut leaves. For two people, the meal is served with Balinese sate, vegetables, steamed rice and Balinese fruit punch. There is also Balinese Smoked Chicken, with similar sidings as the smoked duck.

The appetizer was so delicious that instead of sating my hungry appetite, it just teased it all the more.

Aside from the ambiance and the food, the infamous Balinese hospitality was also reflective on the accommodating waiters and waitresses, including taking my Facebook picture.

LiveOlive Executive Creative Director and HOTDOG band founder Dennis Garcia with On Highstreet Consultant Angela Garcia and CNN Jakarta Kathy Quiano

You’d think that after such a sumptuously sinful meal it’d be “Yabadabadi, that’s all folks!”

Perish such dietary thought.

I took them to my old haunt in Cikini, which has become such a happening place now it reminds of the Old Malate in the Philippines. This is not your regular tourist route … especially when you hang out in the cozy restaurant cafe Dua Nyonya (Two Mistresses or Two Mrs), where they serve a deliriously hot coffee.

What I love about Dua Nyonya Cafe & Restaurant™ is what the owners did to create a unique ambiance in the old colonial building in Cikini, serving a different variety of traditional Indonesian food while showcasing their batik textile wear.

And as it says on their site:

“Authentic Indonesian foods and coffees”
Nyonya Chatib Basri (Dana Iswara) dan Nyonya Rizal Mallarangeng (Dewi Mallarangeng)
Um, if you’re wondering why there’s limited information on the menu and location of these two places, I hope that establishes the fact that I do not wish to run into you there. Although there’s always the link and Google. 
In case you do find it though … can you take my picture?


About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the Southeast Asia Director of JUMP DIGITAL Asia, which is an internationally-awarded and fully integrated digital marketing agency with 5 out of 10 offices in the ASEAN region. He is also the Secretary General of the Philippine Business Club Indonesia, managing and assisting the traffic of investments between the Philippines and Indonesia. He shuttles between Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, and Australia. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on July 26, 2012, in Food and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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Charlotte Setijadi

Anthropologist & Contemporary Historian of Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia


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