“And at the end of the satay, they decided to skewer a piece of pork fat. It was like a surprise birthday gift.”
Now, I’m not exactly a massive fan of Sate Babi Manis (sweet pork satay), but for Sate Plecing Arjuna, I’ll make an exception. The first time I laid my eyes on Sate Babi Manis was at a franchise Chinese restaurant specialising in Nasi Campur (mixed rice). It was visually unappealing. It reminded me of something that I’m not allowed to say here, otherwise you will all get turned off by the sight of the dish.
As for Sate Plecing Arjuna, I can confidently say that it is the best sate that has ever landed on my taste buds. Situated on a corner of Jalan Arjuna in Denpasar, the small shop was filled to the brim with customers when I made my entrance. Places are limited – up to 30 customers max – while you can forget about an air-conditioning system. All there is are wooden tables and chairs. On the plus side, it’s very clean and well maintained, despite its minimal interior decor.
Husband-and-wife duo Tjo Hok Tjiang and Tjwie Giok first started the business back in the year 1990, and they still run the place. Initially focusing on Singaraja’s speciality dish Sate Plecing (beef satay with spicy sauce) as its USP, they decided to make a bold move one day and added pork to their menu. It turned out to be the best decision they’ve ever made.
These days, the pork satay has won more plaudits and sells out faster than its beef counterpart. Sate Plecing Arjuna’s satay is cut into 1cm cubes, which makes it look very tantalising. They then provide you with two different sauces: sweet and plecing. The latter is made from shrimp paste and chilli to give a little bit of that much-needed spicy oomph to the dish. I went for the plecing sauce as I’m a big fan of spicy food, but as I would find out at the end of my meal, the satay didn’t require the help of any sort of sauce, as it was already delicious on its own. The secret, as Ci Giok – the wife’s preferred moniker – revealed that she marinates the pork with a variety of undisclosed ingredients before it is grilled.
And so I went and gulped one up. The pork meat was succulent, tender and sweet; just the way I like it my meat. And at the end of the satay, they decided to skewer a piece of pork fat. It was like a surprise birthday gift. The pork fat was slightly burnt, which made it dry and a tad crunchy. On the inside, it was juicier than the meat itself. It compelled me to grab another stick just to feel the same sensation dancing on my tongue.
Besides its Sate Plecing, the eatery also serves a mean bowl of Bakso (meatball soup) as well; something that I would recommend visitors to have a go at. If you don’t mind dining in a hot and packed venue, then you should definitely insert Sate Plecing Arjuna into your itinerary the next time you’re in Bali.
By Jessicha Valentina
Jl. Arjuna No. 49, Denpasar, Bali
T: 0831 9822 8664
Open daily from 8am-5pm
Rp.20,000/US$1.60 for one portion