Why you should care
It might look like it, but the food doesn’t taste totally like crap.
As soon as I step into the restaurant, I’m greeted by the sound of flushing water rippling down the ceiling. The waitress points to a scattering of toilet seats (lids down) and asks me where I’d like to sit. Next to the bathroom, please. I don’t want to waste this opportunity to experience all that the Modern Toilet Restaurant in Taiwan has to offer.
You can pretty much guess what the toilet-themed restaurant decor looks like — walls plastered with bathroom tiles, lamps shaped like pyramids of, well, poop, and showerheads hovering above you. You sit on a barely comfortable porcelain throne and eat upon a spacious bathroom sink-slash-table. And when you’re done, there’s single-ply toilet paper to wipe off. “The theme of our restaurant offers the biggest antithesis to eating,” says the restaurant’s mastermind, Wang Ziwei. In other words, it’s not what goes in, but what goes out. “Dare to imagine,” he adds.
… served in your choice of a mini toilet bowl, tiny bathtubs, hospital bedpan or plastic urinal that is yours to keep.
The most innocent looking item on the lid-shaped menu is mashed potatoes, but even those are shaped into a you-guessed-it-shaped pile. But from there, the menu is downright gross. A sample “crappy meal combo” offers up handmade meat/shitballs (手工便便肉球), spicy toilet beef curry (馬桶咖哩牛肉) and their signature dried-up constipation brownie (便秘黑乾屎). And should you want to quench your thirst, the selection includes — wait for it — bleeding hemorrhoid strawberry milk, diarrhea cocoa and Taiwanese urine beer. Most meals and beverages are served in your choice of a mini toilet bowl, tiny bathtubs, hospital bedpan or a plastic urinal that is yours to keep.
The restaurant manages to attract around 5,000 to 8,000 patrons every month, says owner Wang. The idea started more than a decade ago when the ex-banker decided to quit his day job and turn his night hustle — selling a frozen chocolate concoction akin to soft-serve shit — into a full-blown restaurant chain. However, his restaurant seems to focus less on the food and more on the experience. “It’s more of a gimmick than to be taken too seriously,” says Michelle Chong, who’s on her third (and final) visit. Her out-of-town friends dragged Chong against her will.
Man man yong (慢慢用) is a polite prod in Taiwan to savor your food and take your time eating. But as I glance over at the other tables of half-eaten plates, the toilet theme is a clear turn-off. “It was hard to finish because it looks so grotesque,” says 21-year-old Avery Chen, who treated himself to a meal during a graduation trip to Taiwan. He peers down at the remains of his triple pork, cuttlefish and squid sausage meal. But his disgust is also a testament to Wang and his culinary genius. He did “too” meticulous of a job with plating and presentation, says Chen. He excuses himself and walks toward the restroom, cleverly named the VIP Lounge.
When the waitress places my order on the table, my appetite suddenly plummets. Still, I take a big bite of the turd sub sandwich (便所大便潛艇堡). There are bits of corn baked inside. The detail is impeccable.
GO THERE: MODERN TOILET RESTAURANT
- How to say it in Chinese: 便所主題餐廳 (Biànsuǒ Zhǔtí Cāntīng)
- Directions: Unfortunately, you can’t just ask which way to the bathroom. The capital of Taipei has two locations: near MRT Ximen Station and MRT Shilin Station.
- Cost: Most dishes will set you back $5 to $10 and come with a complimentary soft-serve chocolate ice cream in the shape of you-know-what.