How to Find the Best Food in a Foreign City, According to Anthony Bourdain

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Anthony Bourdain and K.F. Seetoh. [Photograph: Singapore Tourism Board]

I was at a lunch at the fine Singaporean restaurant Laut near Union Square yesterday hosted by the Singapore Tourism Board. Sprinkled in amongst the delicious laksa, crispy feather-light tofu puffs, sweet-and-savory beef rendang, and silky-textured Hainanese chicken and rice were a few gems of advice from outspoken Singapore-evangelists Anthony Bourdain and K.F. Seetoh (a man "whose name is synonymous with Singaporean street food," said Bourdain).

Yes, the food was great and I came away from the meal desperately wanting to get to Singapore, but perhaps the most useful gem from Bourdain's talk was his tip on how to discover the best places to eat in a foreign city.

Everyone has their own method. I usually take to our own Talk boards, my Twitter account, or my Facebook account, appealing to the community to lead me right. It's worked pretty well thus far.

Bourdain's slightly more rascally approach? Invoke "nerd fury." Hit up any message board with an active international or travel community, and rather than simply asking them for advice, outright lie to them.

Get online and write something along the lines of, "hey guys, I just had the absolute best chicken rice at [restaurant x] in Singapore, no questions asked, hands down, everything else pales in comparison," then sit back and enjoy the show as the internet foodie elite each jump into the fray to defend their own picks to the death. You'll get a much bigger response, more passionate praise, and it'll probably end up being a little fun to boot.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Hell hath no fury like a food nerd scorned.

Tell me, Serious Eaters: Where do you go for the best travel dining recommendations?

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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