Anthony Bourdain in Jakarta: 4 Spots Where Tony Ate
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Also called “The Big Durian” for its atrocious smell, Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta is a sprawling urban landscape of smells, sights, sounds, and experiences. While he hailed from “The Big Apple,” Anthony Bourdain felt a special connection to “The Big Durian” and sought to inspire those watching at home to come and explore a city and country that deeply captivated him.
Anthony Bourdain visited Jakarta twice, first to film season 2 (episode 8/12*) of No Reservations, and again to film season 12 (episode 3) of Parts Unknown. These were his only two visits to Jakarta (or Indonesia as a whole) during his television career, though it’s clear from both episodes that Tony loved this destination and might have returned someday if not for his career being cut short by his own choices.
If you’re planning a trip to Indonesia and want to eat at the same places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Jakarta, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find the four spots we know Tony ate in Jakarta; some required a bit of sleuthing to confirm – as I’ll explain later in the post.
*The “Indonesia” episode of No Reservations comes up listed as both episode 8 or episode 12 depending on the source/streaming service.
Want to watch the episodes where Anthony Bourdain visits Jakarta?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon and Hulu. The Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV.
No Reservations (2006)
Anthony Bourdain’s first (on-screen) trip to Indonesia starts in Jakarta, which is now home to almost 11 million people (2 million more than when Tony visited almost twenty years ago). He doesn’t spend the entire episode in Jakarta, but instead attends a Silat demonstration (of an indigenous martial art from Indonesia), has a meal, and then heads out of the city to explore other parts of this huge country.
Rumah Makan Carano
Tony’s one meal in Jakarta during this trip is at Rumah Makan Carano; he’s joined by the Silat demonstrators he had previously watched. This restaurant is famous as the place where one of the team cameramen took out the entire display of prepared food for the day – Tony calls it an “international incident.”
Rumah Makan Carano is known for its Padang-style Sumatran food, that is, it is regional Indonesian food from the island of Sumatra (an island that coffee lovers might recognize). Some of the dishes they try include buffalo stewed in coconut curry and a spicy stew – called bule – with brain. Bourdain also learns that Indonesian people call foreigners and expats “bule;” this theme of expatriation to Indonesia is something he muses on for most of the episode.
After dining hear, Tony and crew head out of Jakarta, making this the only spot you can still visit from his first trip.
Parts Unknown (2018)
As I alluded to at the top of this recap, Bourdain’s second visit to Jakarta and Indonesia was his final one: it was filmed shortly before his death and released as part of the truncated season 12 of Parts Unknown. Unfortunately, Tony never recorded voiceover for this episode, so it contains a great lacking… our guide isn’t with us on this journey, though he is on-screen. Nevertheless, we do know the places he ate and drank during this visit to Jakarta.
Rumah Makan Surya
Bourdain’s second trip to Jakarta starts out much like his first: trying Padang food. This time, he visits Rumah Makan Surya, another restaurant famous for this style of Indonesian food. He’s joined by two (unnamed) people, and they talk about Indonesian beliefs about life and death, light and dark, good and evil – big themes of this episode in its final cut. The dishes they try include fried lungs, intestine goulash, deep-fried fat and skin, and rendang.
Blok M Square
Next, we know Tony ate at one of the vendors in Blok M Square, a monstrous shopping mall and food market. Bourdain and his unnamed dining companion were spotted by a local while filming in a corner of the dining area. We don’t know exactly which vendor they ate at or which foods they tried, but you can certainly visit this area and try several options.
Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club
As far as I can tell, the last place visited by Anthony Bourdain in Jakarta is not actually open to the public; my research suggests that the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club is a members-only venue for, well, foreign correspondents. (That is, journalists who live in and/or cover Indonesia.)
Tony was likely invited because of his work covering Indonesia and in seeking the perspectives of others like him in the future of Indonesia. Among those who joined him for a drink during his visit include Joe Cochrane, an Australian journalist who passed away in 2021.
While this list is short, it does give you a few options for where to eat in Jakarta during your visit. Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Jakarta during his two trips? Let me know in the comments below.