Naughty but Nice Pork Ribs, Bali Style
Tasa Nugraza Barley
After reading all about its famous pork spare ribs in The New York Times, I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to try out Naughty Nuri’s Warung, north of Ubud, on my last trip to Bali. So you can imagine my delight when I heard the franchise was opening a branch right here in Jakarta.
The Bali restaurant was opened in 1995 by a Javanese chef, Isnuri Suryatmi, better known by her nickname, Nuri, and her husband, Brian Kenney Aldinger, an American expatriate. The open-air roadside venue was described by The Times as having a “warung-meets-Irish-pub vibe” and as being a magnet for expats, artists and the occasional international celebrity. The menu features barbecue staples such as steak and seafood, but is best known for its extensive selection of pork dishes.
After recruiting another pork-loving friend, I took a trip to the newly opened barbecue joint in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, to see what all the fuss was about.
Jostling for space among the numerous other eateries crowding Kelapa Gading Boulevard, Naughty Nuri’s new Jakarta branch is a modest, two-floor restaurant filled with long tables and benches, flanked by a pair of traditional Balinese umbrellas.
My friend and I were so excited about the ribs that we had decided not to eat anything all day, to ensure maximum satisfaction. We didn’t need much time to study the menu. “I want the pork spare ribs,” I told the waiter almost before he had a chance to hand me a menu, while my friend opted for the pork steak.
Luckily for our growling stomachs, the food was served in less than 15 minutes. I thought that the process of grilling pork would take longer than that, but the waiter explained that all the pork ribs at the restaurant were precooked and then reheated to order.
The alarm bells went off. I can be picky when it comes to pork dishes. Unless someone has told me that a dish is particularly delicious, I won’t even bother touching it. But remembering the rave reviews for Naughty Nuri’s in Bali, the pork ribs in front of me, accompanied by a side of potato wedges, did look very tempting indeed.
I finally took the first bite and to my surprise, the pork was extremely tender. Not only was the meat soft, but it was also juicy. Grilled in a Western style, the meat was sweet. To enrich the flavor, I added a lot of pepper and ketchup.
After struggling to eat the ribs with the help of a knife and fork, I gave up and dove in with my hands, which proved to be much easier. My friend, a regular pork-eater, was happy with his pork steak, which was tender and tasty, but complained that the flavor was a little fishy.
While the place didn’t have many drink choices, I still managed to find something exotic to enjoy: fresh coconut juice. It turned out to be the perfect refreshing companion to the rich pork ribs.
We had expected the pork dishes to be more expensive than the standard Kelapa Gading fare, so it wasn’t a shock when our bill came to around Rp 250,000 ($30) for everything.
I left the restaurant feeling satisfied that I had finally tried Naughty Nuri’s famous pork ribs. But I still haven’t forgotten my dream of enjoying the ribs at the original Ubud establishment. Now that would be a perfect pork experience.
Naughty Nuri’s Warung
Kelapa Gading Boulevard
TB 2 No. 27
Tel: 021 452 0380