1. Toilet-themed Restaurants: “Modern Toilet” in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China
Toilet-themed restaurants have become a hit in Taiwan’s second largest city Gaoxiong since its opening in May 2004. So far, there are around 13 branches of Modern Toilet ( 便所餐厅 ) and other toilet-themed restaurants like “Toilet Bowl” in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and all over Taiwan, etc. “We not only sell food but also laughter. The food is just as good as any restaurant but we offer additional fun,” says Eric Wang, the owner, who gave up a career in banking to launch the business.” Most customers think the more disgusting and exaggerated (the restaurant is), the funnier the dining experience is,” he says.
More Photos Of Unique Restaurants Can Be Found At: Red Flava Gallery
The top orders of Modern Toilet are curry hot pot, curry chicken rice and chocolate ice cream because, well, “they look most like the real thing”, Wang says. The price ranges from 150 to 250 Taiwan dollars ($5 – $8) for a meal set including soup and ice cream.
Taipei Metro, Hsinpu Station, Exit 1
Direction: Taipei Metro ¡V Hsinpu Station ¡V Exit 1
Business hours: 10am ¡V 11 pm (except for Saturday and Sunday open until 12am)
2. Prison-themed Restaurants: “Devil Island” in China
The owner of the Devil Island restaurants in China reportedly wanted to scare people away from a life of crime by showing them just how rough prison life can be – through a jail-themed restaurant where you’re led to your table in handcuffs and served fried coffin-shaped bread. Each table is surrounded by rusting prison bars, and you’re served by waiters in black-and-white striped uniforms.
3. Prison-themed Dining: “Alcatraz” in Tokyo, Japan
The setting is a “medical prison”. You are the patient. The waitresses are dressed as nurses. They handcuff you, pretend to inject a giant needle into your rear, and then lock you in a cell before you are served cocktails named “Lethal Injection”. There, you can order such dishes as Dead Chicken (in which two chicken feet are clasped together in peaceful repose), Penis Sausage (in which a sausage is carved to resemble a severed penis) and Intestine (another sausage, and sort of odd considering that you can order actual intestine in any of Tokyo’s zillion yakitori restaurants). Try the cocktails: the false teeth in a jar has particular bite, “Adultery Dish” and “Incest Salad”.
Occasionally, the staff will “accidentally” open your cell door and it’s your mission to go screaming around the restaurant in a wheelchair evading the outstretched hands of other prisoners.
4. Medical-themed Bars: “D.S Music Restaurant” in Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei is known for its variety of strangely themed dining establishments, but this one might just take the cake. Your surreal experience starts with the name, D.S. Music Restaurant, which in no way hints at what’s actually inside. Waiting staff dressed in nurse uniforms push you to your table in wheelchairs, where your drinks are served from an IV-like contraption hanging from the ceiling. The “nurses” ask trivia questions, and if you get them right, you’re rewarded with shots of a tasty drink squirted into your mouth with a syringe. It only gets stranger from there. Once you’re done eating, a female staff member in a deranged ballerina costume dances on your table.
5. Ninja-themed Restaurants: “Ninjia” in Japan, Taiwan, New York
Some of New York’s most creative fusion food is served in a rather unusual restaurant, one in which no expense was spared to create an atmosphere that one reviewer described as “Ninja Disneyland”. Guests are led to the subterranean eatery through a “secret path” where “ninjas” ( 忍び , 忍者 ) lurk in the shadows, and brought to a table housed within a dungeon-like chamber. The ninja waiters perform magic tricks that extend into the meal, like sauces that catch on fire.
6. World of Warcraft-themed Restaurants: “Bao Xue” in Beijing, China
Nearly every aspect of the MMORPG game “World of Warcraft” has been implemented into the themed restaurant Bao Xue ( 暴雪餐厅 , meaning fierce snow). There are terminals strategically placed around the restaurant to allow diners to play “World of Warcraft”. The main dining room is called the Hall of Snow Storms and features a giant World Tree at its center. The names of the dishes on the menu are revolved around characters and creatures in “World of Warcraft”.
7. Robot Run Restaurants: “Robo Cafe” in Japan, South Korea
South Korean company IM Technology has developed restaurant concept around a cute little robot that fulfills the role of a waiter – it takes orders from customers, either verbally or through a touch screen, then relays them to the kitchen, and brings the food out when it’s ready. Robo Cafe eliminates ordering errors, reduces staffing costs dramatically for restaurant owners, and even brings the boss all the tips.
8. Transformer-themed Cafes: “Gundam Cafe” in Tokyo, Japan
Mecha franchise Gundam is getting an official cafe and bar in Tokyo’s Akihabara. Drink up!
There are other Gundam Cafes across Japan, and they typically feature bars decorated Gundam models or Gundam-themed drinks. This official sixty-seater Gundam Cafe will even feature a Gundam coffee blend, among other tasty beverages.
The Gundam Cafe sign reads (in English), “Gundam style’s official cafe and bar started since A.D. 2010. Continuing ’till U.C. 0079!” Right on.
9. Animal Companionship Cafes: “Calico Cat Cafe” in Tokyo, Japan
The first menu you’ll see at Calico Cat Café in Tokyo, Japan has nothing to do with food: it’s the cat selection. But you won’t be dining on any of these adorable felines – they’re just there to provide some companionship while you sip a cup of tea. The watchful staff ensure that guests treat the cats respectfully, and provide complimentary bags of dried cat food that can be used to attract your desired playmate. For many Tokyo residents, owning a cat isn’t realistic, so the city’s 30-odd cat cafés give them a chance to enjoy some “commitment-free cat stroking”.
10. Anger Release Bar: “Rising Sun” in Nanjing, China
It’s a tough, stressful world out there, and there’s only so much you can take before you just have to let out some anger and frustration. If using restaurant staff as punching bags sounds like a good anger management tactic to you, check out the Rising Sun Anger Release Bar in Nanjing City, China where customers pay a fee to beat up staff, scream and break glasses. The staff, which dons protective gear, will dress up to resemble the person you’d really like to physically assault. The bar is said to be especially popular with Chinese women who work in the service industry.
11. Fantasy-themed Restaurants: “Vampire Cafe” in Tokyo, Japan
From the same group also comes the Vampire Cafe, with the interior, food and drink all working around the Vampire theme. Dark red velvet curtains frame a passageway that is lit from below by a glowing floor of red blood cells; cobwebs drape around the chandeliers; in a nice touch, all the mirrors are broken. The place isn’t as bustling as it used to be, and the food is standard modern-izakaya fare, but Vampire Cafe’s attention to detail is excellent, and it remains one of the only theme restaurants in Tokyo that you might actually want to stop by for a quick drink – Bloody Mary, Blood Clot, Blood Orange and Vodka, you name it.
12. Airplane Diners: “Boeing 747” in South Korea
Repurposing old buildings is quite the in-thing to do these days, but it’s not a scratch on applying such recycling principles to giant-sized vehicles. A Boeing 747, the first jumbo jet to be flown commercially, sits in South Korea – a decommissioned airliner that found a new lease of life converted into a restaurant.
13. Colossal Luxury Clubs: “Sevva” in Hong Kong
The 13,000 square restaurant and club Sevva is located on the 25th floor penthouse of the Prince’s Building near the Hong Kong harbour. Owned by Mr.B (Bonnie Gokson, Chanel Asia Pacific’s former communications director), Sevva features multiple room options for drinks, live music, lunch and cakes.
14. Igloo Eateries: “The Hoto Fudo Noodle Restaurant” near Mount Fuji, Japan
There is no snow around the Hoto Fudo noodle restaurant near Mount Fuji in Japan, but that doesn’t mean it can’t look like an igloo. According to the designers, Japanese studio Takeshi Hosaka Architects, the igloo-shaped Hoto Fudo noodle restaurant is made from soft geometry. The curved, reinforced concrete shell with openings allows for air circulation into the building and also ensures that rain falls at the edges of the interior.
15. Being Served by Robots in Japan
Who needs a head and arms and face and jabbering from a robot? If you just want a mechanical slave, then utility is foremost. This designer serves his guests with a remote-controlled table. This simple robot server makes so much sense to those of us who just hate to interact with anything that has something to say, or might give us the stink-eye if the tip isn’t big enough.
16. Mystery Meal Cafes: “Ogori Cafe” in Japan
The premise of the Ogori Cafe is that you go in and place your order, but receive whatever the patron before you ordered, while your order goes to the person behind you in line. It is literally a surprise every time that you visit the Ogori Cafe, whether you will receive an iced coffee, or an appetizer spread, an orange juice, or a brownie.
17. Child-Centric Eateries: “Kids Cafe Piccolo” in Seoul, South Korea
Designed specifically for children by London branding and design agency Vonsung, Kids Cafe Piccolo in Seoul, South Korea is a place where children are the protagonists and their parents are the ancillary customers. With a mission to combine fun with a learning experience, in addition to the eating areas, Kids Cafe Piccolo also features a play room, library, locker rooms and storage facilities.
18. Fantasy-themed Restaurants: “Alice in Wonderland Cafe” in Tokyo, Japan
“Alice in Wonderland Cafe” in Tokyo, Japan claims to be a “labyrinth of fantasy dining”; fall down the rabbit hole into an Alice in Wonderland-themed restaurant based on the story by Lewis Carroll, with wait staff decked out in light blue and white checkered pinafores and walls painted with strange, vaguely Alice-inspired imagery. The coasters are playing cards, little bowls of snacks are decorated with signs that say ‘Eat Me’ and you summon your server with a little brass bell. The menu features a Japanese spin on French and Italian cuisine and a large variety of bite-size appetizers.
19. Airplane-themed Restaurant: “A380 In-Flight Kitchen” in Taipei, Taiwan
Mmm, airplane food. If you just can’t get enough of eating on airplanes but you’re sick of going through security and paying expensive airfare to do it, you may want to visit the A380 In-Flight Kitchen in Taipei. The restaurant resembles the inside of a plane, with faux oval-shaped windows, baggage compartments and speckled blue seats complete with headrests. Waitresses dress like flight attendants, and “passengers” have much more than just chicken or fish to choose from.
20. Japanese Restaurant with Goldfish Swimming in the Deep-Fryer
This is a restaurant in Japan that has a goldfish tank – inside the deep fryer!!!!! And the goldfish are actually alive and well, swimming around totally oblivious of the 162° C hot oil floating above them. The reason why this is possible is that oil floats on water. The burning hot oil therefor floats on top of the water where the goldfish are. So as long as they don’t try to “jump” out of the water, everything is fine. They can live inside an active, working deep-fryer for 5-10 years! The bonus is that all the crumbs and leftovers from whatever is being deep-fried sinks down to the goldfish. Just amazing!
21: Urban Dining Tents: Cozy Tents as Restaurant Alternatives in Seoul, South Korea
In Seoul, South Korea, many blue-collar workers are opting to invite guests for dinner inside tents on the street instead of out at pricy luxury restaurants. The urban dining tents are situated in the heart of the city, close to top hotels. These alternative venues melt tradition with functionality, providing a cozy, memorable atmosphere.
22. Arboreal Restaurants: “Okinawa Tree House” in Japan
This tree house restaurant is located on Highway 58 at the entrance of Onoyama Park in the south of Japan. The establishment, called Okinawa Tree House, is perched upon what looks like a real tree. But in reality, the restaurant is atop a man-made concrete structure and the clients have to take an elevator located inside the fake trunk to get to the restaurant.
23. Princess-themed Restaurant: “Princess Heart” in Japan
Some girls never outgrow their princess fantasies, and if you live in Japan, you can luxuriate in all the frilly pink princess regalia you can stomach whenever you want at the Princess Heart restaurant. Customers are led to a full-length mirror where they’re apparently supposed to ask who’s the fairest one of all, before taking a seat in a throne and being crowned. Women can drag their male partners along, but single men aren’t allowed.
24. Japan’s “Pub Paradise Restaurant” Caters to the Healthy Feet of Women
The Pub Paradise restaurant is a spa dining experience for women. They have heated water with mineral salts for those at the bar seats to soak their feet in while they enjoy their meal. They also have “rock” flooring that touches on pressure points in the feet to improve circulation and promote health. They offer reclined dining at floor level as well so you can get off your feet and legs completely to enjoy your meal.
25. Phantom of the Opera-based Theme: “Wizard of the Opera” in Tokyo, Japan
Billed as “gorgeous gothic dining”, the Wizard of the Opera restaurant in Tokyo has a vaguely Phantom of the Opera-based theme, with lots of sumptuous red velvet and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical soundtrack on repeat. Among the dishes served are smoked salmon shaped like a rose, and the staff will even write the word ‘opera’ in chocolate on your plate.
26. Evil Spirit-based Theme: “Namahage” in Akita Prefecture, Japan
In the northern prefecture of Akita, they dress as demons, striking fear into the hearts of young children and making them cry. If you’re thinking, “sounds like a brilliant idea for a family restaurant,” too bad – Namahage’s beaten you to it. While you’re eating your meal (your standard nabe soups and fried chicken, loosely based on traditional Akita cooking), the lights suddenly cut out, and a deafening wailing fills the air. Stamping and shouting in the semi-darkness, performers dressed as giant “namahage” evil spirits go from table to table, as they are said to go from house to house in Akita, asking: “Any bad guys, or lazy guys?”
To demonstrate your innocence, so that the Namahage will offer a blessing rather than take you back to the mountains for eternity, you’re expected to feign surprise or even fear – though the performance is entertainingly jarring enough that you won’t have to fake it. It’s like a meal and a traumatizing character test in one. Surprisingly popular with families.
27. Monkeys as Waiters: “Primate Restaurant” in Japan
A restaurant in Japan has some unusual waiting staff on its books. There are two macaque monkeys, Yat-chan and Fuku-chan, who serve customers and are given soya beans as tips.
The younger of the two, Fuku-chan, usually begins the first shift and is quick to hand hot towels to customers to clean their hands before ordering drinks. Four year old Fuku-chan has only two years’ experience under his furry belt and his work load is limited to hot towels. Yat-chan actually serves drinks too.
(If you can’t get enough of Asian unique restaurants, how about 24 Weird & Shocking Drinks in Asia?)