Anthony Bourdain in Malaysia: The Complete Country Guide

Malaysia is a country with a rich and diverse cultural heritage. With a population of 33.9 million, Malaysia is home to a mix of multiracial and multiethnic communities, made up of the Malays, Chinese, and Indians. 

While Malaysia is predominantly a Muslim country, it is open and accepting of other cultures and religions. Its diverse population has led to a vibrant and eclectic mix of traditions, customs, and cuisines that have made Malaysia a popular destination for foodies and travelers alike.

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Anthony Bourdain was no stranger to Malaysia, having visited and filmed in the country three times: to film season 1 (episode 5, “Into the Jungle”) and season 8 (episode 8, “Penang”) of No Reservations, and to film season 6 (episode 7, “Borneo”) of Parts Unknown. These were his only visits to the country, though it was a good number of trips considering how much he loved so many countries in the region.

If you’re planning a trip to this Southeast Asian country and want to eat at the same places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Malaysia, this post will be your guide. Below you’ll find a list of the places Tony visited and links to the restaurants where he ate.

This post was originally written in March 2023 and was updated most recently in March 2024.

Kuala Lumpur

In the first season of his show, No Reservations, Bourdain featured Kuala Lumpur, the nation’s capital where he savored local Malay food at street vendors before embarking on a journey to the indigenous Iban villages in Kuching, Sarawak located in East Malaysia. His second visit was featured in Parts Unknown season 6, episode 6 where he returned to fulfill a promise he made to the indigenous Iban community during his first trip.

Here’s where he ate while visiting Kuala Lumpur:

If you want more detail on each of these spots and what Tony ate at each one, be sure to check out my guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Kuala Lumpur.

Penang

In season 8, episode 8 of Parts Unknown, Bourdain visited the island of Penang, known as the “food capital” of Malaysia, where he indulged in the local cuisine and soaked up the vibrant street food culture.

Penang, known as the “Pearl of the Orient,” is a small island located in the north of Malaysia with a population of almost a million people. It is a melting pot of different cultures, religions, and ethnicities, resulting in a unique blend of history, architecture, and cuisine. Here’s where Bourdain ate during his Penang visit that are still open today:

Throughout his visits to Malaysia, Bourdain was drawn to the country’s diverse cultures and cuisines, from the Malay street food in Kuala Lumpur to the indigenous cuisine of the Iban community. His love for exploring the unknown and immersing himself in different cultures made Malaysia a perfect destination for him. 

Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Malaysia? Let me know in the comments below!

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Wai Ling Fong is a PhD candidate during the week, and a foodie adventurer on the weekends! From experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen to scouring Northern Virginia's hidden culinary gems, she's always on the hunt for the perfect bite. You can follow her writings on Medium @wailing.fong and culinary escapades on YouTube @WaiLingFong

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