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Yesssssss to Sarawak laksa


Surprise visit: Bourdain enjoying a bowl of laksa at Choon Hui Kopitiam in Kuching. He will be filming in Sarawak until June 3.

Surprise visit: Bourdain enjoying a bowl of laksa at Choon Hui Kopitiam in Kuching. He will be filming in Sarawak until June 3.

KUCHING: With just one word and a photograph, the Sarawak laksa is the toast of the world.

Chef turned CNN presenter Anthony Bourdain posted the picture of a bowl of the dish on Facebook and Twitter, where he has 2.1 million followers, with the word “Yessssssss”.

The Facebook posting has been “liked” 40,531 times so far with one commenting that the dish is the “best laksa on the planet”.

Bourdain, who arrived here last Wednesday, is filming in Sarawak until June 3.

Local tour agency Borneo Adventure is helping with Bourdain’s shoot. Its co-founder Philip Yong said Bourdain’s production contacted him about a month ago.

“It was not until a few days before they arrived that it was confirmed,” Yong said.

Apparently, Bourdain is shooting an episode for the CNN programme Parts Unknown. He first came to Sarawak in 2005 when he taped portions of No Reservations at a longhouse, upriver from Sri Aman.

“Unfortunately, I can’t reveal too much about Bourdain’s plans in the coming days. His focus is on authenticity and by telling it all, it might affect his intentions,” said Yong.

Owners of family-run kopitiam Choon Hui, which Bourdain patronised on Friday, said his crew made no special request prior to taping the segment. Likewise, IPH Roasted chef Ray Yap said the crew visited his barbecue joint without notice.

“They made no reservations. They showed up twice in a week, the second time with a cameraman,” Yap said.

Bourdain has kept his schedules unpredictable. On Friday, after taping at Choon Hui, he turned up at Studio 23, a martial arts centre.

Yong, who is also Sarawak Tourism Federation president, said celebrity endorsements of Sarawak were powerful tools in the age of social media.

“Social media is modern marketing. In April when Datuk Jackie Chan was here (for the Asean International Film Festival and Awards), he uploaded a selfie of himself with fans at the Old Court House and that photo was ‘liked’ nearly a million times on Facebook.”

Sarawak Tourism Board marketing director Benedict Jimbau said more TV shows would be filmed in the state this year.

“We are now hosting another celebrity chef, who is fromBritain. She is here as part of a joint initiative with Malaysia Airlines.

“The crew arrived on Thursday and will leave on June 1,” he said.

“At the end of June, we are looking forward to a BBC production that will be here for a documentary,” Jimbau said.

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