Friday, November 25, 2011

Anthony Bourdain's The Layover: Review

This week saw the debut of Anthony Bourdain's new show, The Layover. Promos advertise the program will show viewers the best ways to kill time between flights in major cities around the world. Being a huge fan of No Reservations, as well as his books on the culinary industry, I was curious about this new offering.

The series kicks off with a thirty hour layover in Singapore, beginning with a rundown of hotel options and a breakdown of transportation times from the airport, whether a traveler takes a cab, bus, or train. Once checked in to the Presidential Suite he was surprisingly upgraded to, Bourdain takes viewers on a whirl wind tour of the city. The tour includes a variety of sites, including the Mustafa Center, a massive indoor market with everything; the Singapore Flyer, a 165 meter high Ferris Wheel; and the Sands SkyPark, an adult playground, resting across the roofs of three skyscrapers, complete with a swimming pool and night club.

The hotel options, transportation tips, and list of tourist traps are interesting and useful bits of information. However, fans of Anthony Bourdain watch him for his descriptions of exotic cuisine, superbly prepared street food, and culinary staples from different regions and cultures. As the camera vividly captures what he eats, and he describes the flavors of these foods, we fans enjoy living vicariously through him. In this regard, The Layover doesn't disappoint.

He begins with a breakfast of steamed rice cakes with fried pickles at one of the city's Hawker Centers, which are quality controlled centers for street food vendors. As he enjoys that breakfast, cameras whisk viewers across the city to show us the Peanut Pancake option for breakfast. As the clock ticks down, he visits the Colonial District for a meal of Chicken Rice and Curry Fish Heads; Samy's Curry for Chicken Masala, Papa Dahl, Naan Bread, Prawns, and a host of other Indian delicacies; the Gaylang District for Claypot Rice (which comes with a variety of meats), Fried Crab, Lobster, and Green Beans with Dried Fish Powder; and Arab Street for Pulled Tea. Scenes featuring these, and other local eats, were more than adequate to satisfy any food loving viewer.

In a nutshell, The Layover is essentially No Reservations with a slight twist. While No Reservations can explore cultures anywhere, The Layover focuses on a tighter radius around a transportation hub. Food dominates both productions though, making the culinary segments virtually interchangeable between titles.

Airing Mondays at 9pm on The Travel Channel, The Layover is entertaining TV for any No Reservations fan.


  1. Great review! I'm a huge Bourdain fan and was thrilled to hear he had a new show coming out. I saw the premiere too and enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing James, have a great weekend =]