‘Eating curry out of a toilet bowl in Taiwan -’
What? I sat up straight from my slouch on the sofa and stared at the travel show advertisement on the the Travel & Lifestyle Channel. And then it clicked. Of course! I had heard of this restaurant before – a restaurant where you sat on toilets to eat and ate meals out of miniature toilets. It had been in the travel sections of the paper and had been advertised as the ultimate novelty restaurant when it was launched in 2006. Well, now that I’m a blogger I’m absolutely obliged to visit it, am I not?
I was pleased to see that there were two of the restaurants, neither being too far from me. One was in the very popular, very rad and trendy Ximending district (compared to the likes of Tokyo, can you believe) and the other in Shilin near the very popular Shilin night markets. Looking them up on TripAdvisor, it seemed like the Ximending branch had a reputation for being difficult to find, and so I decided I’d check out the Shilin restaurant.
The Shilin Modern Toilet is located a little way down from the main Shilin markets, approximately right between Jiantan and Shilin metro stations. It’s on the right side of the road, and if you’re looking up, just look for the giant picture of the poo, and there will be a sign saying ‘Modern Toilet’, in English. Head up the narrow staircase and a little tune will play when you get to the top to signal your entry.
The inside was decorated as had been described – shut toilets as the seats (no, you can’t lift them), with various gaudily-designed toilet seat lids, and glass set on white bathtubs as tables – what fun! At the time I went, there was a family with a few kids enjoying the novelty of the experience. The restaurant is mostly child-friendly. Not really the front part at the magazine display though, there are a few adult magazines there which aren’t quite for kids…
Need a napkin or tissue? Just grab some toilet paper off the wall. Mind the loofah and bath toys!
The menu has both English and Chinese so it’s easy enough to read it, and the waitress understands English. The waitresses were young girls in their late teens dressed in the restaurant’s hot pink polo shirts and their own denim (very short) shorts, with too much eye make-up and false eyelashes. They were a little abrupt in their service and my drink arrived with a brisk ‘plonk’ on my table. Nonetheless, I turned a blind eye to it as I do in these situations and concentrated on my drink.
I had ordered the green tea with cranberry ($3.30/100TW), which came in a urinal! I was ever-so-slightly disturbed by the frothiness of the drink haha but had a sip and it was very delicious, refreshing and not too sweet, with fresh cranberries on the bottom.
The curry was actually served in a small black heatproof plate that just sat right on the top of the ‘toilet seat’, while a candle flame burned underneath, keeping the curry hot, then eventually burned out a bit later. The curry had about two small pieces of chicken thigh and vegetables, accompanied with a small bowl of white rice and a bit of pickle which I wasn’t overly fond of, but I’ve never really liked pickle in the first place.
I finished my meal and was deliberating on getting dessert, as their ice creams were what they were most well-known for – their trademark ‘poo’ shape which was served in a squat toilet (my number one dislike of travelling in Asia), however the Shilin markets awaited and I could think of better ways to spend my pennies.
I was a little surprised when I read the bill to see that a tip had been included in the amount due. Tipping is not a regularity in restaurants in Taiwan, and nor is it expected. Regardless, it was my last week in Taiwan and I wasn’t too fussed with a few extra Taiwanese dollars, and so I paid the tip and made my way out.
An interesting experience – probably one that would be more fun with some friends to giggle with, but the food was pretty unspectacular and I’m sure that after a visit or two the novelty will eventually wear off.