Have you ever wondered what it would be like to dine in a roomful of cats or be guided to your table in handcuffs? It’s not the traditional restaurant experience. There are tables and servers and meals, but each is skewed a little for the curiosity and enjoyment of its guests. Some restaurateurs are just as interested in experience as they are in food. To them, a restaurant is a a place for exploration. It’s the arena where they express their emotions and strange quirks through culinary creations. For world travelers and foodies anywhere, here are seven of my favorite weird restaurants to experience.
CALICO CAT CAFÉ
It may seem an ominous sign when this Tokyo café hands you a menu full of cat species. Don’t let that scare you. This initial menu has nothing to do with food. You get to choose which cat companions you will be dining with! The watchful wait staff keeps an eye on the customers to make sure all cats are treated with kindness and respect. In Tokyo, it is not practical for most people to own pets.
DEVIL ISLAND PRISON RESTAURANT
The story goes the man who started this restaurant in China wanted to scare people so they would behave and try to avoid prison. The food is good, but the jail-themed weird restaurant is more famous for its odd quirks that imitate prison life. You are guided to your table at Devil’s Island in handcuffs and served fried coffin-shaped bread as an appetizer. Rusting prison bars and wait staff dressed in black-and-white striped uniforms surround each table. Want your dinner served with a wake-up call? Here you are.
A380 IN-FLIGHT KITCHEN
Do you have a strange desire for airplane food? I hope this craving for small meals in aluminum foil doesn’t drive you to fly an unnecessary amount. If it does, why not spare the air far and board this airplane-esque diner in Taipei? Complete with oval-shaped windows and baggage compartments, the restaurant’s main departure from the realities of plane food is its menu. There’s a lot more than chicken or fish to choose from here.
DINNER IN THE SKY
Few people can stomach eating very high up in the sky. If this is a dream of yours, there’s one weird restaurant you definitely should visit. In Belgium, a series of cranes makes up Dinner in the Sky, a restaurant you can be strapped into. As you sit there dangling 150 feet above the ground, you can eat lunch-sized portions of ham salad, sautéed prawns, and other little things prepared at a cooking station in the center of the dining structure.
NINJA NEW YORK
New York has made an industry of creative fusion food, but even that reputation can’t prepare you for the awesomeness that is the ninja restaurant. In this mysterious dungeon of a dining room, guests are led to a subterranean eatery through a secret path where ninjas lurk in the shadows. Eventually, you reach a dining chamber where you sit and let the ninja chefs get to work. Throughout dinner, it’s a virtual magic show full of fiery sauces, knife tricks, and delicious Japanese cuisine.
In Japan, weird restaurants sometimes go a bit too far. Let me tell you about Nyotaimori, the Japanese food that literally means ‘female body plate’. At this restaurant, Japanese sushi and sashimi are served inside a woman’s body made of food. You can eat any part of the “body” as it lies there in front of you. When you cut it, the dish is designed so that red sauce runs out to create the illusion of blood. I say again, some people go too far.
The final stop on our list of weird restaurants In Nuremberg, Germany, a restaurant called Baggers has made its mark with dumbwaiters. These are not the traditional trap doors you see in colonial houses. At Baggers, you order on a computer and your food zips to you along a twisted iron track from the kitchen above. Food literally whizzes in and out of this futuristic eatery. It’s like a ball machine with food!
— Timothy Vest