If there is a list of legendary eatery’s to visit around the world, Naughty Nuri’s in Ubud is on that list. A traditional looking warung in Bali Indonesia; there is nothing traditional about the hero dish in this unpolished, unpretentious hole-in-the-wall rib mecca.
The Naughty Nuri’s story
The heart of Naughty Nuri’s is in its origins. In 1995, Isnuri “Nuri” Suryatmi and her husband Brian Kenney Aldinger opened up this honest road-side warung at the northern and quieter end of central Ubud. With Nuri’s love for cooking and Brian’s love for socialising, they built one of the most popular places to hangout for travellers in Bali. A little known fact, is that whilst Naughty Nuri’s was struggling in the early days, it was the gay community who started the buzz around going to Nuri’s. They became frequent visitors to Nuri’s sparking the journos and media folk to follow, celebrities and then, well… the rest is history! Of course, times have changed and there’s less of a community vibe as the holiday-makers flow in and out of Nuri’s in search of those infamous ribs. I often think about how great it would have been to visit Naughty Nuri’s in its hay day; getting drunk on good company, Martini’s and juicy ribs.
“Everyones equal, everyones welcome.”
– Brian Kenney Aldinger
Taking a seat in Naughty Nuri’s, Ubud
The unmistakable smell of the Naughty Nuri’s BBQ surrounds the warung, pleasantly filling the air and watering the mouths of its next victims. This place is a dingy joint. And not bad dingy, good dingy. Rough around the edges, honest and all about the food. It’s a genuine down and dirty road-side affair and it’s absolutely fantastic. Large wooden tables and benches welcome people from all walks of life to sit together and enjoy a good meal. Condiments and napkins ready, you just need to focus on what sides you are going to order with your ribs.
The infamous Naughty Nuri’s BBQ pork ribs
So obviously there is more food at Naughty Nuri’s than just the ribs but the ribs is why you come. God knows what cooking process they use to get the meat succulent and ready for the BBQ but it’s at the big iron BBQ grill where the rest of the magic happens. Huge racks of ribs are soaked in their gorgeous, moreish barbecue sauce before being thrown into the wide flames on the grill. A dedicated mother of fire nurtures these pieces of meat in a sea of smoke under a corrugated metal roof, harbouring several years remanence of barbecued meat ethers. The ribs start to charcoal around the edges as the barbecue sauce turns into a glorious sticky glaze. Piles of smoky, gooey, tender ribs lay prisoner to the naked flames of the BBQ before being selected one by one.
One thing to remember is that these ribs are cooked and flame-grilled to perfection in a factory line procession. When those ribs are ready, then they are served; not before and not after. So not necessarily with your side dishes either. But lets face it, who cares? The side dishes are a formality. A tradition of meat and two veg. These ribs don’t need no side dishes! As the ribs land in front of you, the universe becomes just you and them for a brief moment in time, where nothing else exists. The incredible flavour of the sauce, the tender fall-off-the-bone pork, the crunchy chargrilled corners where the sauce and the juices of the meat have melded together in a fusion of flavour. Where you are still drooling after you’ve finished a whole rack and are contemplating another order. These are the ribs at Naughty Nuri’s.
More than just ribs at Nuri’s
So, of course you can just run a gauntlet of ribs but the sides are good to snack on whilst you await the grand finale or to soak up the alcohol as you sit back and enjoy your meaty conquest. Huge Potato Wedges, Mashed Potato, Garlic Bread, Sauteed Vegetables in garlic butter, an old fashioned Green Salad with Nuri’s yummy salad dressing and the Nasi Goreng all get the thumbs up from us!
Drink and be merry… very merry
In all of our visits we didn’t order the famous Martini (a crime, I know!), just a good reason to go back soon I guess! Apart from faithful old Bintang, our favourite go-to drinks were Joey’s Cosmo and the Whiskey Sour. Delivering the same lethal strength servings as the Martini’s, these drinks will blow your head off. But they are tasty. They are often shaken and poured at your table, with one condition. You have to drink some out of the glass so they can completely empty the shaker.
Finding Naughty Nuri’s
The original and best Naughty Nuri’s is on Jl. Raya Sanggingan in Ubud. There are actually two on that road. The newer one being named Naughty Nuri’s Mexican. I’m not sure of the origins behind establishing this one but it’s not the original and it’s not exclusively Mexican. I would describe it as a more family-friendly restaurant style of Naughty Nuri’s (whilst still being very road-side rustic). They still serve the ribs and the ribs are still Nuri’s but if you want the real Naught Nuri experience, you have to go to the original warung. I guess depending on how busy the original one is, this one, a short 5 minute walk down the road is convenient as second option, if you want more space or a private seating arrangement.
Nuri’s has also since opened up their business as a franchise and there are now Naughty Nuri’s across Asia and even in Melbourne, Australia. But be warned, you haven’t really done Nuri’s until you’ve done the original Naughty Nuri’s Warung in Ubud.