These eateries will not let you exit their premise without an unforgettable experience
Travellers often flock to a new country armed with an itinerary that includes pit stops for must-try dishes. While food is one important highlight, another aspect worth checking out is the restaurant concept itself. Some eateries go the extra (or eccentric) mile to enhance their customer experience with imaginative themes and ambiances, often served with a side of yummy food.
Here are several of the quirkiest, most unique restaurant concepts found in eight different parts of the world worthy of, at least, a once in a lifetime visit.
The Gallery room of Sketch is famously known for its all-out pink and pastel interior, but before you scoff it off as a girly and feminine, stop right there. The monochromatic design is created to be both soothing and comprehensive at the same time, and the choice of leather and velvet booth-style sofas and white orbs of lamp posts for lighting is a delightful play of bourgeois and avant-garde at the same time.
Definitely a one-off experience for a spot of lunch, or a great conversational topic to go with their decadent afternoon tea set.
Izakaya Kayabuki, Japan
Cat cafes and pet-friendly teashops are so yesterday. Well, by the standards of Izakaya Kayabuki, anyway. This Japanese tavern is more than pet-friendly; it puts your ‘furkid’ to shame the second you are greeted and served with a cold towel by a monkey waiter, who will then proceed to bring you your beverage order. Travellers throng this traditional sake-house not for the food or drink (reputed to be tasty too), but for a glimpse and the experience of being served by Yacchan and Kayabuki. These pet monkeys of the owner have been on waiter duty ever since they copied his ritual of serving customers since 11 years ago, but only allowed to work for two hours a day.
Le Refuge des Fondus, Paris, France
In an attempt to skirt taxes on wine glasses, this restaurant made a comedic decision to serve their drinks in baby bottles, which became a hit. Le Refuge des Fondus further encourages its guests to bring out their inner child, throwing in their walls for a dabble at graffiti too. The whole experience is communal and cosy, with no frills wooden tables and benches tightly packed together, arranged to get customers talking to one another. The food is presented in a formule approach of either red or white vino, and cheese or meat fondue. Go for the experience in return for a joyous time.
Laino Snow Village Ice Restaurant, Ylläsjärvi, Finland
Looking for more of a ‘winter wonderland’ experience this fall? We suggest you set the bar with a visit to this ice restaurant, nestled among a cluster of ice hotels in Finland. Set at a temperature between -2 °C to -5 °C, the interior of this fully snow and ice restaurant is visibly warmer than the outdoors. Everything from the walls, tables and chairs are frozen and rebuilt at the start of November every year. Meals are served cold too, and drinks are served in an ice-made cup that you can smash on the ground at the end!
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Rangali Island, Maldives
Dining in this underwater restaurant can only be described as an otherworldly experience. This first undersea dining establishment is a challenge for both the brave and faint-hearted, in the sense that patrons dine in a sunken restaurant, but at a safe distance from deep sea creatures like schools of sharks seen looming outside the 270 degree glass enclosure. Either way, you can’t beat the romance of dining with a view of crystal blue water and a glimpse of vibrant marine life.
Hajime Robot Restaurant, Bangkok, Thailand
Another restaurant that’s moving away from human waiters and going futuristic is this robot restaurant in Bangkok. The restaurant’s yakiniku (mini barbeque) dishes are brought to the table by samurai robots, a sight eagerly anticipated by both tech geeks and curious customers. The robots may not move as fast as you’d like but they do the job efficiently, skilfully placing trays in the middle of the table and picking up an empty one. And if you think these robots only serve patrons, wait till you see them in action as entertainer, dancing to pop music.
Ninja New York
If you’ve always wanted to meet ninjas, this restaurant might just be the place to live out your fantasy. Step into the 6,000 sq ft Japanese-American restaurant and place your wits in the hands of ‘ninja’ waiters, as they jump out at you from nooks and crannies, from one table to another. These stealthy ninjas will occasionally bellow phrases at you, wave their ‘weapons’ at you or perform scary tricks to keep you entertained. It’s the setting to test out your multitasking skills of eating and staying mentally prepared for sudden scares.
The Rock, Zanzibar, East Africa
Isolated and perched on top of a rock in the middle of the Indian Ocean, The Rock is far from dejected, and is in fact dubbed as one of the most extraordinary restaurants with a most romantic dining experience. At low tide, this charming restaurant can be accessed by foot, but at high tide, diners are transported by boat. Besides offering an unforgettable time, this restaurant serves an exquisite menu of freshly-caught seafood within its vicinity.