When I was a wee young lad, my mother, just to get me to eat my meals, had to pretend that the food was radioactive and would turn me into Spiderman, or mimic the sound of a chugging train as she patiently tried not to choke me with the spoon. Thanks to her efforts, today, I am no longer a stubborn brat a mature man who has regular meals.
I suppose such fond memories are why I—and a large part of the population—find the idea of a themed café so entrancing. Playing with food while maintaining the appearance of a respectable adult? Yes please!
Taiwan, with its commingling of Japanese and Western influences, is a fertile ground for the sprouting of these themed cafés. Here are five of my favourites that I’d recommend you if you were my friend (everyone who reads this article is my friend).
4 Most Entertaining Cafes in Taiwan
1. Modern Toilet Restaurant
This one perhaps appeals more to the weekly Zouk-going teenager than to any child. Remember how you used to chug down a bottle of the cheapest vodka (bought at the nearest 7-Eleven) and promptly regurgitate it in the toilet bowl an hour later? And, in your drunken state, think that the new state of matter existing between solid and liquid actually looks appetising?
Well… now you can fulfill such thoughts (we don’t judge). Modern Toilet Restaurant is a café that is, as its name suggests, themed after the lovely interior of a toilet. From the seats upon which you rest (toilet bowls), to the serving receptacles of the food (toilet bowls and bathtubs) and drinks (urinals), to the food itself (chocolate ice cream, naturally), no detail in this café is left untouched, so please remember to wash your hands thoroughly after you leave.
No. 7, Lane 50, Xining South Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108 (Taipei branch); (Taipei Branch)
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 11.30am to 9pm, Friday 11.30am to 9.30pm, Saturday 11am to 9.30pm, Sunday 11am to 9pm
No. 96, Section 3, Sanmin Road, North District, Taichung City, Taiwan 404 (Taichung branch)
Opening Hours: Weekdays 11.30am to 8.00pm, Weekends 11.00am to 8.30pm
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2. Crazy Cart Cafe
If you’ve ever wolfed down the last spoonfuls of your chicken rice, dashed to your car, and sped off because of shouts of “summon auntie!”, then Crazy Cart Café will appeal to all these instincts in a healthier way: this café combines good food, fast cars, and high speed.
After savouring Western-inspired meals like meatball spaghetti or pork ribs, you can stroll leisurely to your car—no rushing needed—and take off without even leaving the café.
A go-kart track runs around the interior perimeter of the café and connects to a much larger track outside, where you can drift around the track to your heart’s content without fear of the summon auntie—or if her presence at your tail makes the ride more thrilling, you can always imagine her shadow forever chasing you.
Global Mall Nangang Station Store 1/F, No. 360, Section 8, Civic Blvd, Nangang District, Taipei City, Taiwan 115
Weekdays 12.00pm to 2.30pm, 3.00pm to 5.30pm, 6.00pm to 8.30pm;
Weekends 11.30am to 2.00pm, 3.00pm to 5.30pm, 6.00pm to 8.30pm (accurate as of 18/01/2019)
3. Central Park Cafe
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No friends? No worries. Visit Central Park Café (not Central Perk) and you will be instantly transported to the café resembling the one that Joey, Chandler, Ross, Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe, your television best friends, used to hang out in all the time. Look! That awful velvet orange couch is still there, as well as the hideous faux oriental rug—but these strikingly 90s paraphernalia just make the café seem more homey and authentic.
Even the food at Central Park Café is themed after each character. Phoebe, naturally, offers cookies baked according to the secret recipe of her grandmother (pronounced “Nes-lay Tou-lou-se”, not the butchered American pronunciation of “Nestle Toll House”), and thankfully omits any smelly cats; Joey has a smattering of hearty pizzas and sandwiches for consumption, but “JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD” so be sure to order individual portions.
At this café, it’s really as if you stepped into the world of the sitcom Friends and had friends.
No. 3, Lane 240, Section 3, Luosifu Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Weekdays 1.00pm to 9.30pm
Saturdays 12.00pm to 10.00pm
Sundays 12.00pm to 9.00pm
4. Maiden Diner
The food at Maiden Diner is delicious. The grilled chicken leg and baked mushroom spaghetti have a comforting, nursery feel that will remind you of your maid’s cooking—true to the theme of this café.
Indeed, Maiden Diner offers you the opportunity to relive your childhood days when your maid would cook dinner for you… oh wait… you mean that the maids at this café are of a different type? Waitress, what are you doing?
Oh… okay. Still fun to visit, though.
No. 100, Shimin Blvd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
12.00pm to 9.00pm
There are of course a lot more themed cafés in Taiwan, such as Rikkakuma Café, a café revolving around a cute brown bear; Gudetama Chef, the temple of my spirit animal (I quote a description of Gudetama from Vox: “Life for Gudetama, which mainly consists of lying on a plate, is largely unbearable”); Alice is Coming, which is like stepping into the twisted world where Alice ended up after falling through the rabbit hole, and so on. But this curated list promises you the four most entertaining themed cafés where it’s not just the food that is themed, but the entire experience.