You just haven’t lived until you’ve eaten soup out of a steaming hot toilet. In my opinion at least. Pull up a porcelain throne and hear me out…
Taiwan is a place bursting with quirky eateries like the Hello Kitty Kitchen, a hospital themed restaurant confusingly named D.S. Music Restaurant where your beer is served in the form of an IV drip (the only way if you ask me), a Barbie café, and worst of all (Yes, there is something worse than a Barbie café. OK, maybe tied for worst.), an airplane themed restaurant. Something about eating crappy food in a cramped space full of other people’s used air and bony elbows just deflates my appetite. Oddly enough though, eating poo-shaped ice cream out of a squat toilet is totally sane.
I’m talking about Modern Toilet, a highly successful restaurant focused on all things latrine. Theme restaurants are sort of the shit in Taiwan and I totally get it; I love themes! And you would know that if you attended my geek-chic Lord of the Rings inspired wedding. Themes are easy and fun and sometimes come dripping out over the side of a urinal with a straw in it. America simply hasn’t gotten in on the (bowel) movement of themed restaurants quite yet and the ones we do have lack real imagination, risk-taking, and the appropriate plumbing necessary for success. Just take a look at their website; the main headline reads, “Shit or Food?” with subheadlines stating, “Go pee-pee or poo-poo” and asking, “To eat or to pee?”. Let me just say, I’m glad it’s one or the other and not both simultaneously. They do draw the line somewhere. Presumably with their pee and in the snow.
I was first introduced to Modern Toilet while on an extended visit to Taiwan. A friend back home told me about something he had seen on TV about a toilet restaurant and I was immediately constipated with excitement. (I’m just going to assume the employees go through “potty-training” upon getting hired.)
The story behind Modern Toilet involves the owners, Wang Tzi-Wei and Dao Ming Zi, watching a Japanese cartoon and then deciding it would be just fantastic to serve doodie-shaped ice cream, chocolate naturally, in Japanese toilets. This was a smash and so began the adventure of opening a full-scale restaurant based on this man’s obvious love for the loo. There are now tons of locations around Taiwan, Hong Kong, and soon Malaysia.
Everything in this restaurant is focused on bathroom life, from bowel to bowl: tiled walls and floors, shower heads on the walls, urinals being used as lamps, toilets for chairs, bathtubs and sinks for tables, toilet paper/napkin rolls on the walls (pulling from the top,
just the way I like it the right way). Oh and the turds. Turds everywhere. On the wallpaper, at your table, dangling from the ceiling. Turds, turds, turds. Turd is the word.
The seats are all real toilets, sans plumbing, and all with their own personalities. Mine was a badass.
For a restaurant mostly focused on urine and fecal matter, the food was really good. (Just take a minute to really process the trauma of that sentence.) I had one of their “gratins” (rice, cheese, broccoli, etc. I say “etc.” because I don’t really know all of the ingredients but I will say that it was probably not soap or drained-clogged hair.) which came in a small bathtub of course. It was actually one of the best meals I had during my time in Taiwan even though it was quite un-Taiwanese. My husband had a traditional hot-pot in a not-so-traditional vessel. His came out steaming in a toilet bowl, complete with toilet-shaped tofu.
I should mention that because we required the English menu, the food descriptions were boringly straightforward. Had we been able to read the Chinese menu we would have seen, for instance, desert offerings such as “diarrhea with dried droppings” (chocolate ice cream with raisins), “bloody poop” (strawberry ice cream), “green dysentery” (kiwi-flavored ice cream), and something called “hemorrhoid ice” which is ice cream, raisins, strawberry sauce, and a bunch of other stuff I just can’t even think about because I have to change the subject now.
I was disappointed by one kind of major thing – the bathroom! Didn’t see that coming, did you? I guess I had really high expectations for the shitter of a shitter-focused restaurant. I mean, it was nice and all, as far as restaurant bathrooms go, and I don’t really know what I was expecting, maybe something phenomenal? I didn’t even have to go; I just pretended to so I could check out the bathroom, as one does. They did have standard Western toilets however, in my experience a rarity in Taiwan. I still have no idea how to use those hole-in-the-floor toilets and only attempted one incredibly drunk time when peeing was a matter of life and death. I’m still pretty sure I did it wrong.
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