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Chinese Get Their Feet Wet at Chongqing’s Unique River Restaurant

Aptly named the River Cafe, one restaurant in Chongqing, southern China, has come up with an ingenious way of attracting clients. Taking advantage of a nearby stream, the owners have set up dozens of tables straight on the water, offering patrons a cool escape from the unbearable heat.

With summer temperatures reaching over 40 degrees Celsius, the Chinese are always looking for new and enjoyable ways to cool off. The River Cafe, in Chongqing, is inviting locals and tourists to take off their shoes and grab a seat in the waters of a cooling stream. Since it’s too hot to serve their delicious food inside or in the sun, the managers of this popular venue have decided to set up most of the tables straight on the water, under the shade of trees. The pop-up restaurant now has more tables in the stream than it has on land, which can seat up to 300 people at a time. The water doesn’t look very clean, and you can see plastic bottles floating through the plastic tables, but it beats facing the scorching sun or going to overcrowded swimming pools like the famous Dead Sea of China.

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Dick’s Last Resort Restaurant – Would You Like Insults with That?

Dick’s Last Resort is an American restaurant chain renowned for its obnoxious waiting staff. Patrons can expect to be insulted, made fun of and put in uncomfortable situations, all in the name of fun, of course.

If you like greasy southern grub Dick’s Last Resort is the perfect eatery for you. They specialize in juicy steaks, ribs, burgers and fried chicken, all served in extra-large portions sure to satisfy the biggest appetite. But that’s not why so many people across America come here. They come to be abused by the surly, obnoxious staff. The first ever Dick’s Last Resort restaurant opened as a fine dining establishment, 28 years ago. There were too many of those around and the venture turned out to be a failure which led to bankruptcy. Determined to make it in the restaurant business, owner Steve Schiff gave it another shot, only this time he decided to “go sloppy”. The classy decor was replaced by a wacky one, and the uber-friendly staff became obnoxious and abusive with patrons. Believe it or not, the bizarre concept proved a winner, and today Dick’s Last Resort is a successful restaurant chain with 13 different locations across the United States.

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Japanese Cafeteria Offers Curious Eaters a Taste of Prison Food

In Japan, you don’t actually have to get thrown in jail to get a taste of prison food. The Prison cafeteria, in Abashiri, Hokkaido, specializes solely in food actually served inside Japanese prisons.

I’ve often wondered what jail food tastes like, but I was never curious enough to commit a crime and find out. Luckily, for like-minded Japanese, there is a place where they can sample prison-quality meals without having to give up their freedom. The Prison Cafeteria, at the Abashirishi Prison Museum, serves the same food that the genuine inmates of Abashirishi prison eat for lunch each day. As you can imagine, it’s pretty cheap, but the guys at RocketNews24, who visited the place and tried some of the courses on the menu say it’s also pretty tasty. I’ve heard some awful things about prison food, but it seems Japanese inmates have it pretty good. To be fair though, having to constantly keep an eye out for someone trying to shank you at lunch time, is just not worth trying this decent food in actual prison.

Prison-Cafeteria

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The Exchange Bar & Grill Where Prices Fluctuate Like Stocks

You don’t have to be an experienced stock trader to make a killing at the Exchange Bar & Grill in New York City, where prices of food and drink fluctuate according to the law of supply and demand.

The way it works is quite simple. According to the Exchange website, “The prices for your favorite drinks fluctuate depending on supply and demand. Watch a while when no one is ordering your favorite drink and snag it when the cost falls to unbelievable lows – or use your leverage to jack up the price of any cocktail, drink or shot for the whole bar.” Unlike the real stock market, insider trading isn’t illegal. You are welcome to make use of the tactic to catch the ‘market crash’, when every drink in the bar hits rock bottom. At times like this, beers are sold for as low as $2 to $4. Exchange can seat up to 60 people and atmosphere is like a nice lounge with dim lighting, HD screens and leather couches. The ‘ticker tape’ flashes the fluctuating menu prices in red lettering according to an algorithm, the secret to which even Steven Yee, an operating partner at Exchange, claims he doesn’t know. “The algorithm was created by the person who wrote the software, and the guy won’t even share it with me.” Yee also says that the ticker is just a fun feature, and that they are more about good food, fantastic staff, a bar and a great atmosphere.

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The Stinking Rose – San Francisco’s Garlic-Centered Restaurant

If your idea of a perfect meal is garlic, garlic and more garlic, The Stinking Rose restaurant should definitely be on your itinerary the next time you’re in San Francisco. Their motto – “we season our garlic with food” – says about everything you need to know about this place.

Located in the Italian North Beach district of San Francisco, The Stinking Rose is probably not the best place to go on a first date, at least not if you plan on getting to first base. The garlic-centered restaurant prides itself on serving over 3,000 pounds of the pungent seasoning every month, so you can expect almost every dish served here to be literally covered in it. It does have a few garlic-free foods on its Vampire Fare menu, for “those finding the herb’s folklore and aroma more appealing than its taste”, but if you’re not a fan of the culinary treat, there’s really no point in visiting. On the other hand, if you are a garlic enthusiast, all you have to do is “follow your nose” and it will lead you to the door of The Stinking Rose restaurant, on Columbus Avenue. As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by the unmistakable smell of garlic and a gallery of garlic-inspired memorabilia covering the ceiling and walls of this unique establishment. Colorful garlic characters, a mechanical miniature garlic factory and the world’s longest garlic braid featuring 2,635 bulbs of garlic are just some of the whimsical decorations you can expect to find inside The Stinking Rose.

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Fangweng – China’s Cliff-Hanging Restaurant

Trekking in the mountains generally means having to survive on packaged food; but not if you’re in China. There’s a particular mountain in the Hubei Province, 12 km north of the city of Yichang, where you can actually experience fine-dining on the side of a cliff. Located in the Happy Valley of Xiling Gorge, the Fangweng hanging restaurant offers a breathtaking view of its natural surroundings to adventurers brave enough to set foot in it.

The dull brick building that acts as an entrance to the Fangweng Restaurant simply doesn’t do the place justice, and it’s only after you pass through it that you can give yourself a pat on the back for discovering such a unique venue to experience Chinese cuisine while admiring the natural beauty of Xiling Gorge. Unless you’re afraid of heights, in which case the 30-meter-long narrow concrete bridge hanging on the side of a vertical cliff overlooking the Yangtze River might just be your worse nightmare. Luckily, there’s a metal railing you can grab on to while you crawl your way to the actual restaurant. The bridge leads to a dining hall carved into the cliff-side, where most of the tables are set. Warmly lit by traditional lamps hanging from the ceiling and decorated with Chinese furnishings, the cave itself is a sight to behold, but the main attractions of Fangwen are the two concrete platforms extending away from the cliff, from where diners can see all the wonders of Happy Valley or watch bungee jumpers as they leap off a nearby bridge.

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Bon Appetit! London Public Toilet Gets Converted into a Gourmet Snack Bar

If you enjoy eating in the bathroom, you have to check out the Attendant Cafe, in London. Formerly a 19th century public restroom, the underground venue has recently been converted into a gourmet sandwich shop, but retains many of its original decors, including the urinals…

Rising property prices in London are becoming a big problem for would-be homeowners and businesses looking for commercial spaces. But for the few people who can see beyond the smelly history of the city’s abandoned public toilets, converting them into quirky restaurants and bars is proving to be a very cost-effective alternative. One such bold entrepreneur is Peter Tomlinson, who invested most of his savings into turning a 19th century men’s restroom on Foley Street into the Attendant snack bar. Don’t worry, it smells a lot better than it sounds, but patrons looking to enjoy a gourmet sandwich and a hot cup of coffee in this place might be a bit put off by some of the decor elements. For example, the old porcelain urinals have been re-purposed as table tops, so you’re basically enjoying your meals in the exact same place where Londoners used to…well, I wouldn’t want to spoil your appetite.

Attendant-cafe-London

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China’s MMO Video Game-Inspired Restaurants

Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) video games are very popular in China. Combine that with the country’s culture of fakes and copycats and you get lots of unofficial merchandise and even venues  inspired by popular virtual reality universes. One such place was the World of Warcraft-themed restaurant on Chaoyang Road, in Beijing.

Opened in 2008, by a businessman who just happened to also be a huge fan of Blizzard’s fantasy universe, the unique World of Warcraft restaurant was designed entirely around the MMO and its original opening cinematic. Created as a “comfortable gathering place for fellow gamers”, this place had Warcraft-inspired decorations, dishes named after locations in the game and plasma screens showing live footage from the MMO world. The large banner above the entrance featured the game’s logo, an Alliance mage and a Horde warrior, as well as the crests of the two playable races. This would have probably been enough to attract the millions of Chinese fans who live and breathe World of Warcraft, but the entrepreneur really went all out trying to make the restaurant itself appeal to die-hard gamers.

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Mine Shaft Restaurant Takes Dining to a New Low

Ina bid to turn the idea of pop-up restaurants on its head, an award-winning Finish chef has opened a unique eaterie in an old mine shaft, 80 meters underground. Obviously, it’s called a “pop-down” restaurant.

“‘Pop-down’ is such a unique idea that I just had to do it,” chef Timo Linnamaki said on Monday, before his first clients descended to the bottom of the mine shaft in the town of Lohja, Finland.  “It’s great working down here because you are totally cut off from the world, so nothing distracts from the cooking.” The idea of preparing food so far below ground was all part of being close to the earth, but the talented cook admits this is by far the weirdest place he has ever prepared his dishes and that it would be very difficult to find something on par. The 115-year-old mine chosen as the location for this unique pop-down restaurant goes down to a depth of 380 meters where limestone is still mined, for the chemical industry. But that didn’t seem to scare off customers, as the 64-seat restaurant is already fully booked until September 29, when the crazy underground cooking experiment ends.

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Tang Du Zoology – Dining in China’s Indoor Natural Habitat

There are plenty of cool places to eat at in China, but one of the most amazing has to be the Tang Dousheng State Park, also known as Tang Du Zoology. This unique venue spreads over 1,600 square feet and features over 1,500 exotic plants and various animals.

I don’t know about you but I haven’t yet had the chance to dine in a place larger than three NFL football fields, so the Tang Dousheng State Park in Taiyuan, an industrial city about 400km from Beijing, sounds pretty special to me. But it’s not just the size that makes this place stand out from other food joints in China. Inaugurated in 2005, Tang Du Zoology was meant to be an indoor “natural habitat” full of exotic plants, rugged rockery and rare animals, where people could experience fine Chinese cuisine in a wild-like environment. Usually you have to go outside for a breath of fresh air, but in Taiyuan, you have to step inside this amazing restaurant to let your lungs know what they’ve been missing out on. The place also serves wide range of Chinese food styles (Guangdong, Shandong, Sichuan, Anhui) but the food is not the first reason to dine at Tang Dousheng State Park.

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Guolizhuang – Beijing’ Famous Penis Restaurant

They couldn’t pay me enough to try a bite of cooked animal genitalia, but there are people who would spend hundreds of dollars on delicacies like cooked yak penis or sheep gonads. These are the kind of foods that have made the Guolizhuang Restaurant so popular in China’s capital city.

According to a well-known saying, “Chinese eat anything with four legs, except tables. And everything that flies, except airplanes,” and the food served at the Guolizhuang Restaurant, in Beijing is proof of that. This bizarre establishment opened its gates in 2006, offering all kinds of dishes with animal genitalia as the main ingredient. Many Chinese believe animal penises increase male potency and do wonders for women’s skin, so word about the culinary wonders served at the restaurant on Dongsishitiao Street spread quickly, and the owners were happy to expand their business. There are now several franchises throughout Beijing and one in Atlanta’s Chinatown.

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Dining with the Dead at India’s New Lucky Restaurant

In a land like India, where life and death intertwine so naturally, and reincarnation is such an important part of religion, what better place to build a restaurant than in the middle of an old Muslim cemetery?

They say the milky tea and buttery rolls at the New Lucky restaurant in Ahmedabad, India, are to die for, and I can’t help but wonder if that has anything to do with all the graves scattered between the tables. The bustling establishment is build right on top of a cemetery, but that doesn’t seem to bother the clientele who comes in to enjoy a refreshing cup of milk tea and some soft rolls. In fact, Krishan Kutti Nair, the owner of the creepy restaurant thinks the location is good for business. “The graveyard is good luck. Our business is better because of it”, he says. Read More »

The Future Is Now – China Opens Robot-Operated Restaurant

Well, it’s not exactly as advanced as you’re used to seeing in sci-fi movies, but China’s colorful robot-themed restaurant can be a sign of things to come.

They’re probably going to render us extinct one day, so we might as well enjoy their servitude, while it lasts. A unique restaurant, in Harbin, China’s Heilongjiang Province, has 18 different robots doing all kinds of jobs, from ushering in guests to waiting tables and cooking various dishes. All the robots were designed and created by the Harbin Haohai Robot Company. Chief Engineer Liu Hasheng, they invested around 5 million yuan ($790,000) in the restaurant, with each robot costing 200,000 to 300,000 yuan ($31,500 – $47,000). With an average cost per dinner of between $6 and $10, they won’t be recovering their investment anytime soon, but it is great advertisement for what the robot company can create.

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Mr. Kanso – Japan’s Weird Canned Food Restaurants

I bet you’d have never thought a restaurant that serves only canned food could ever become popular. Well, it can in Japan.

Eating cold food from  metal cans with plastic cutlery, is not everyone’s idea of a good eating out experience, but Osaka’s Kanso Restaurant has been offering this exact type of experience for a while now and has enjoyed great success. Things have been going so well that Clean Brothers, the restaurant and cafe company behind the bizarre diner, has begun franchising the idea throughout Japan, under the name Mr. Kanso. And I’m not talking disaster shelters or anything like that, but big cities like Tokyo and Nagoya. The original Kanso opened in 2002, and there are currently 17 branches, 14 of which are franchises, but the number of interested franchisees is growing steadily.

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Dutch Bring-Your-Own-Food Bar Beats the Economic Crisis

Basis is a bring-your-own-food bar that recently opened in Amsterdam, in response to the crisis currently affecting the Dutch capital. Over the last two years, 10% of Amsterdam’s cafés have closed down, but its cool concept actually makes Basis Bar a profitable business.

The Netherlands appeared to be handling the economic crisis quite well, when it first descended over Europe, but now, after the old government collapsed due to disagreements over budget cuts, there are increasing signs of an economic downturn. A group of young entrepreneurs anticipated the precarious financial situation of their country, and came up with a great concept that allows people to still afford to eat out, without having to break the bank. The Basis Bar allows its customers to bring their own food, either cooked at home or ordered from cheaper eateries, like pizzerias. The bar provides everything from dishes, cutlery and napkins, to microwave ovens where people can heat up their food. All they have to pay for is the drinks they order.

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