Strange Planet: Hong Kong’s Modern Toilet Restaurant

When Meaghan Mulholland heard about a Hong Kong restaurant offering a unique style of service, she knew she had to try it, even if it did turn her stomach.

ModernToilet1.JPGUntil a few days ago, if you’d asked me to pick the restaurant industry’s worst contribution to society, I might have chosen KFC’s “Double Down” sandwich, or perhaps the aggressive marketing of Fast Food corporations towards children.  

That was before I went to Modern Toilet Restaurant.

Yes, Modern Toilet Restaurant: a restaurant with a toilet theme. Picture a roomful of people slurping noodles out of toilet bowls, and you get the idea.

When I first heard about the place, I didn’t believe it, either, so I took the Metro from my Hong Kong apartment to bustling Mong Kok one night to see for myself. Turns out the place not only exists, it’s doing booming business; my husband and I had to wait fifteen minutes for a table. At last we were led to a glassed-over sink flanked by four brightly-colored toilet seats; the walls were of colorful tile, and the light fixtures shaped like plungers. When I spotted the signature dessert, “Marton #5” (from “matong,” the Chinese word for toilet), a swirl of chocolate ice cream served in a miniature porcelain commode, I realized there was no turning back.

ModernToilet2.JPGThe place is clearly a gag, a gimmick–which makes the fact that it’s lasted so long (since 2004), and now has thirteen franchises in Taiwan and Hong Kong, all the more unsettling to me. It does have a festive vibe–everyone laughing and taking pictures–but the novelty fades fast. Yes, I laughed when our drinks arrived in mini-urinals, garnished with twisty straws, but by the time my spaghetti in creamy pumpkin sauce arrived (it’s no coincidence that of the entrees at MTR are mushy stews and “hot pots”) I was feeling queasy. The key to getting through this, I soon realized, was to not think; sure, this went against everything I believe about mindfulness and health-conscious eating – but those things had already flown out the window when I set foot in the restaurant.

While the assorted curries, burgers, and noodle dishes were passable–and affordable, with mains around 85-100 HKD ($10-12 US), and “snacks”

and ice creams for $3-6, I’d never choose Modern Toilet over the countless other amazing dining options in Hong Kong, from authentic dim sum to SoHo’s trendiest fusion gourmet. MTR’s definitely not for the squeamish (or anyone who objects to bathroom humor), but if you’re in Hong Kong and determined to experience it yourself, take my advice: order the funniest, grossest-looking thing on the menu, take the requisite photos, then flee to the nearest street stall for dumplings or BBQ duck and try to forget about the whole thing.  

[Modern Toilet Restaurant]
[Hong Kong Travel Guide]

Photos: Andrew Hutson

Comments

  1. […] the inside of a bathroom, they even serve chocolate ice cream that looks like poop. Sadly this is a true story. Bathroom is a combination of the words Room and Water.Unfortunately, the most obvious word that […]

  2. Arie Uittenbogaard
    December 23, 2010, 1:54 pm

    I’ve done my fair share of traveling in the far east and I’ll never cease to be amazed at the toilet-culture over there. Every go is an exploratory feast. I wonder what the toilets in that place look like…

  3. Sheila
    November 4, 2010, 11:53 pm

    True. The challenge here is to NOT think. I would go here for that challenge. LOL.

  4. cakes to ongole
    September 30, 2010, 9:40 pm

    I like your comments.

  5. toilet cubicles
    August 20, 2010, 9:52 am

    Some people might not appreciate that kind of restaurant because their appetite may lost thinking that they’re eating or their food is inside a toilet bowl. But some would rather like it because of it’s uniqueness and the theme is so weird. They might visit the restaurant more often because it’s one of a kind.

  6. Kenneth
    August 9, 2010, 12:13 am

    This is serious? And it’s doing booming business? Once I got a look at the second pic with the ‘chocolate ice cream’ it was time to leave a quick comment here and go get some pudding! LOL

  7. China Tours
    August 2, 2010, 1:02 pm

    @Tom: You don’t.
    Yeah, I can see how the novelty can fade after the first bite.

  8. Tom
    July 30, 2010, 7:59 am

    That is one of the most ridiculous things that I have ever heard about. How can you take a restaurant with a toilet theme seriously.

  9. David Lesak
    July 30, 2010, 6:21 am

    I appreciate your comment on the key to getting through this was NOT to think. I try to be mindful of what I eat but in this instance…flee is the correct answer. I enjoyed your article, funny and entertaining. Thank you!