The Food City Anthony Bourdain Considered One Of His All-Time Favorites

Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain - Mike Pont/Getty Images

Anthony Bourdain's culinary adventures took him all over the world. From Beirut to London, the list is long, but there is one food city in particular that was easily one of his favorites. (And no, it's not New York City.)

As Bourdain shared with Maxim in 2017, a year before his death, Tokyo, Japan, held a special place in the chef's heart ever since his first visit. "I went to Tokyo the first time and my head kind of exploded. I compared it to taking my first acid trip: Nothing was ever the same for me. I just wanted more of it. If I had to agree to live in one country, or even one city, for the rest of my life, never leaving it, I'd pick Tokyo in a second," he shared.

After first laying eyes on what this bustling city had to offer, Bourdain was instantly captivated by everything about Tokyo. He loved how different it was from everything he'd previously known and quickly became smitten with Japanese culture after leaving. The chef spoke extensively about his love for the city many times after, from writing about it in his first book "Kitchen Confidential," which put him on the map, to panels at popular culinary events like The Great GoogaMooga Festival and in many episodes of his Emmy-award winning show "Parts Unknown" too. And there's one thing he especially loved about it.

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Bourdain Shared What Really Made Tokyo Stand Apart For Him

Tokyo skyline
Tokyo skyline - fc tokyo/Shutterstock

Anthony Bourdain was very vocal about his admiration for Tokyo, maybe even more so than his hometown of New York City (of which he was famously a proud resident). In Bourdain's field notes for a Tokyo episode of "Parts Unknown," he even compared the two directly, saying, "I never get bored and I always learn new things in Manhattan. But there's 15, 20 different Manhattans in Tokyo to me."

The scale of Tokyo might be a big reason why Bourdain's first trip to the city left him hungry for more, and he certainly didn't resist those urges. As he shared in a later set of field notes for a separate Tokyo-focused episode of "Parts Unknown," it was those endless opportunities that kept him coming back. "For those with restless, curious minds, fascinated by layer upon layer of things, flavors, tastes and customs, which we will never fully be able to understand, Tokyo is deliciously unknowable. I'm sure I could spend the rest of my life there, learn the language, and still die happily ignorant." His first trip there transformed the rest of his life, and Bourdain quickly became taken by the life, customs, and, of course, the food of Tokyo, Japan.

What Bourdain Ate While In Tokyo

Yakitori on grill
Yakitori on grill - Ma-no/Getty Images

There are countless restaurants that Anthony Bourdain absolutely loved, many of which are in Tokyo. From the Edomae offerings at Sukiyabashi Jiro to "the unnatural, inexplicable deliciousness" -- as the chef and host put it on X, formerly known as Twitter -- of the egg salad sandwiches at Lawson's Convenience Store -- there was a lot he claimed to love.

While dining in the city, Bourdain tried some of the best dishes Japan has to offer, like warm bowls of chanko nabe, soba noodles, unagi (freshwater eel), Japanese beer and cocktails, and savory grilled chicken yakitori, to name just a few. On an episode of "Parts Unknown," he was fascinated by all the unique flavors of these dishes and even called an experience he had at a robot dinner theatre "the greatest show in the history of entertainment." (After acknowledging he'd also previously seen David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix live, so the competition was pretty tough.)

While Bourdain was adamant that you could spend an entire life in Tokyo and still not know much about the city, the chef certainly tried, making multiple visits during his lifetime to soak up the atmosphere. Writing for CNN, he called the city the perfect place for "restless, curious minds." That certainly describes who Bourdain was, so it's no surprise he loved Japan's capital as much as he did.

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