What is the criteria by which we choose a restaurant? Delicious food, excellent service, and nice atmosphere of course. However, there is more to dining than just eating, and there are restaurants that do not fit the description above. What’s more, they are the complete opposite, with an ambiance that might seem terrifying, service that might prove dangerous, and food that may not be the work of a Michelin-starred chef, sometimes a little late, cold, or as simple as a plate of french toast. Nevertheless, these are a success among thrill seekers.
When visiting a foreign country, it is usually the restaurants that are an indicator of the hospitality and customs of that particular place. That’s why tourists often choose traditional dinners. Little do they know that there are a few unconventional restaurants out there, weird to say the least, that will teach you a lot more about a country’s beliefs and crazy ideas than you might think. With these ones, high-end dining just got a little higher… or a little darker… or a little dangerous. Food is not the most important aspect here. The bizarre ambiance is, and the décor, plates, and location will surely surprise you. Besides dinner, you are also served a good portion of adrenalin. Some are funny, some intriguing, others strange, disturbing even. A new experience is always a good experience, especially when food is involved. Yet, I’m not quite sure what to think about these ones.
10. Opaque Restaurant in Los Angeles
Have you ever wondered how it would be like not to be able to see your food and use only your taste, smell and touch to identify the dish? Just as the name implies, Opaque is not recommended for those of you who are afraid of the dark. Customers have dinner in absolute darkness, with only four senses to guide them through. The concept wished to raise awareness about blindness, but some say food never tasted better. It seems darkness makes the clients perceive and appreciate their food a whole lot better. Waiters wear special glasses allowing them to see in the dark when serving the surprise feast. Similar restaurants can be found in New York, San Diego, Dallas, Montreal, and London.
9. Guolizhuang Restaurant in Beijing
China’s famous Penis Restaurant is not for the faint of heart. The theme? You guessed it, sexual organs. No, not human, thank God. They are specialized in cooking the male genitalia of various animal species, mainly horse, donkey, dog, ox, goat, sheep, and snake. How does a serving of cooked yak penis or sheep gonads sound? There’s an old saying that goes like this: “Chinese people will eat anything with four legs, except tables.” Guolizhuang, or the Penis Restaurant in Beijing is the living proof. Chinese believe animal genitalia increase male potency, while doing wonders for women’s skin. The restaurant even serves a wine with extracts of heart, penis, and blood of deer, which is said to work better than Viagra.
8. Hajime Robot Restaurant in Thailand
A Japanese restaurant that specializes in Yakiniku barbecue in the heart of Bangkok targets high-tech and Sci-Fi enthusiasts. Clients are greeted, assisted, and served by robots. The futuristic diner is the first, and so far the only one of its kind in the world. The owner invested $1 million in the robots, all dressed up like samurai warriors. The non-human personnel does all the work: take orders, cook the meals, and serve the food. Of course, there are a few human staff to oversee the process. After serving the dishes, the robots become animators, dancing to modern music to entertain the customers. Service can be a little slow at times. After all, robots can get stressed and overcome with the work load, too.
7. Hadaka Sushi in West Hollywood
Here’s one that will surely please the the gentlemen. An adults-only restaurant in West Hollywood, Hadaka Sushi is one of the few places in the world where Nyotaimori, or body sushi, is served. Here, clients who order sushi or sashimi are in for a surprise. The food will be served on the naked body of a model; a woman for the gentlemen, and a man for the ladies. Don’t worry, the food does not come in contact with the skin, it is carefully laid on banana leaves. Nyotaimori, or live nude sushi, is a bizarre Japanese tradition that seems to have its origins in the local mafia. The only difference is that at Hadaka Sushi, flowers cover all the strategic areas of the body.
6. Devil Island Prison in China
No, it’s not really a jail. The owner of Devil Island Prison Restaurant wanted to raise awareness on the difficulties of life in imprisonment and the harsh conditions of detention, so he opened a restaurant designed just like a concentration camp. Upon entering the restaurant, clients are photographed, are allocated an inmate number tag, are fingerprinted and handcuffed, then showed to their cell, where a simple metal table awaits them. All furnishings are the faithful replicas of the classic prison décor, with rusty iron bars and all and all the waiters wear black-and-white striped jail uniforms.
5. Ithaa Underwater Restaurant in the Maldives
Built 16 feet underwater, in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Ithaa Restaurant is considered a benchmark for luxury and elegance. Fear of diving? No worries. Ithaa Underwater Restaurant is as close as you can get to the lively marine life of the Maldives and an out-of-this-world panoramic view, all thanks to the amazing blue lagoon and coral reef in the immediate vicinity. Designers created a transparent acrylic capsule, whose walls and vaulted ceilings are completely transparent. Part of the Conrad Complex on Rangali Island in the Maldives, there are seven tables under the transparent vault of the world’s first aquarium-style underwater restaurant, a $5 million project. Dishes are inspired from European and Asian cuisine. Ithaa Restaurant’s signature dish is the Crab Tower with ciabatta and truffle mayonnaise, while the crème de la crème is a four-course contemporary fusion Maldivian menu.
4. Yellow Treehouse in New Zealand
Looks like something straight from Avatar, right? Yellow Treehouse near Auckland, New Zealand was a bold green project that took only 66 days to complete. A pod-shaped structure that can sit up to 30 guests hangs from a redwood tree 32 feet above the ground. An elevated tree-top walkway made from redwood leads to the large cocoon that seems to be enveloping the tree. Made from plantation poplar planks, natural light and fresh air flood the interior, while at night the Yellow Treehouse restaurant is illuminated by a palette of soft colored lights, a romantic and whimsical décor, the reminiscences of childhood.
3. Modern Toilet Restaurant in Taiwan
Anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to eat in the bathroom need worry no more. Marton Theme Restaurant in Taipei was the world’s first restaurant to invite its guests to sit on toilets, lid down of course, while serving the dishes in bowls that look like miniature WC or sinks, while a bathtub covered by a glass sheet replaces the conventional table. Despite its rather unusual theme, Marton Theme Restaurant was a success, and the owners soon launched the Modern Toilet restaurant chain throughout Taiwan. Toilet paper is used instead of napkins. Urinals have been turned into lamps. What will you have, the pink toilet bowl of noodles, or the bidet of ice cream?
2. Dinner in the Sky
It is not a restaurant per se, in that there’s no fixed location, but rather a concept that is already a success in several countries in Europe and in the United States. Dinner in the Sky involves a a platform suspended from a crane 165 feet above the ground, that can accommodate up to 22 guests, a cook, two waiters, and an entertainer. Clients buckle up their seat belts as they are elevated above famous cities like Paris, Brussels, Dubai, and even the Niagara Falls. Up there, they will be served their lunch or dinner. Make sure you use the restroom before you go up. If you have to go, the whole platform has to go down with you. The whole shebang costs $30,000 for eight hours. First rule: don’t be afraid of heights. Second rule: don’t drop your fork!
1. Fortezza Medicea in Italy
Delicious food and prisons don’t usually mix very well. However, this minor detail didn’t stop the Italians from opening a restaurant inside Fortezza Medicea, a 500-year-old maximum security prison in Volterra near Pisa. Most inmates here are serving 25 years to life, which means they are considered quite dangerous. Did I mention they’ll be serving your food? That’s right, the waiters are convicts. Piano music is played in the background by Bruno, a piano player serving life sentence for murder. Spine tingling, right? However, rest assured, the cutlery is plastic. Would you have the nerve to send your food back? I don’t think so…