Successful restaurants need to be famous or well positioned for something - great food, handy location, or a special ambience.  Some go to extremes by abusing, amazing or disgusting their customers!  The featured restaurants go WAY beyond attentive waiters or a great chef's special, they take entertainment to a whole new level.  Let's take a walk on the wild side of international dining and taste the truly strange and bizarre in dining experiences. 

Alcatraz Restaurant,Tokyo, Japan

The Japanese have a tradition of unusual dining experiences, but going to jail is on the cutting edge.  “Alcatraz” in Tokyo is a prison themed restaurant, advertised as a “Medical Prison”.  The place has a  medieval dungeon feel with nurses/waitresses who welcome you, collect your blood type, and then handcuff you before escorting you to your cell.

The theme continues with dishes and drinks bearing scary names like “Flu”, “Morphine”, "Incest Salad", or “Mental Stabilizer”. Some drinks are served in test tubes, and nothing it is your bland typical prison fare. Instead this food is high-end with a price tag to match. Actors (waiters) run around acting mentally retarded and scaring prisoners.

Kayabukiya Tavern, Utsunomiya, Japan

The Kayabukiya Tavern is a traditional-style Japanese "sake-house" restaurant north of Tokyo, Japan.  This Japanese Sake joint employs two macaque monkeys to serve customers, with three more in training.  They work a maximum of two hours a dat for boiled soya beans and seem to enjoy their jobs in spite of the meager wages, everyone seems to enjoy a little monkey business in Japan.   

The first two came to internet fame in 2008. Twelve-year-old "Yat-chan", dressed in a shirt and shorts takes customers' drink orders and delivers them to the diners' tables, a skill he learned from watching his and the tavern's owner, Kaoru Otsuka.  The restaurant's owner, Otsuka, reported that he never initially taught the monkeys; Yat-chan first learned from watching him work. Otsuka said, "It all started one day when I gave him a hot towel out of curiosity and he brought the towel to the customer." Four year old Fuku-chan, mainly brings customer's the traditional hot towels to clean their hands before ordering drinks and as of October 2008 was training three more young monkeys to serve customers.

Merton Restaurant in Taiwan

Sit on a throne and eat chocolate ice cream from a toilet bowl. Yummy stuff indeed.  The Taiwanese eat this crap up though - so many have been flocking to eat from mini porcelain bowls that the owners have opened a second location.  We could go on, but well, we don't want to offend with potty talk.  

Beijing Toilet, China

Another crappy Chinese dining experience, this time in Beijing.  They say it is very "comfortable" and targeted at young Beijingers who are flush with cash. Beijing is a big enough city to handle more than one bizarre dining option.

World of Warcraft, Beijing, China

Many dining establishments have themes, but this place is designed to feel like you are really walking into the opening the popular video game World of Warcraft.  Large screens show game sequences, murals feature game characters and somehow the menu ties in with the game. The CCTV reporter does not sound like a gamer though.

World of Warcraft is just the place for game addicted young people to escape from a fantasy world and interact in the real (sorta) world.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Rangali Island, Maldives

(89022)Credit: Ithaa Underwater DiningCredit: Ithaa Underwater Dining

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is part of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort in the Maldives. The uniqueness of this dining spot is that it is 16 feet below sea level and claims to be the world’s first all-acrylic undersea restaurant. Up to 14 diners at a sitting enjoy Maldivian-Western fusion cuisine at USD $120 to $250 a plate in a spectacular natural aquarium with 180° views of reef and marine life including live versions of the local fish on your plate. Due to the limited seating and the popularity of the Ithaa, advance reservations are recommended. 

In February 2004 M.J. Murphy Ltd. of New Zealand was approached by Crown Company in the Maldives to make a unique underwater restaurant. The Crown Company, owner of Rangali Island, leases the island to.  Initially Crown envisioned the underwater restaurant with straight walls and glass windows, but they came to favour Mike Murphy's R-Cast acrylic tunnel, manufactured by Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc. in the United States. The same tunnel was designed for the Kuala Lumpur National Science Centre which has the world’s largest aquarium tunnel.

Murphy initially planned to build the restaurant on the beach at Rangali, but technical and logistics issues resulted in shifting the construction of Ithaa to Singapore instead and work started in May 2004. On November 1, 2004, Ithaa was lifted onto a barge and transported to the Maldives Islands. It took 16 days to arrive. At this point, Ithaa weighed 175 tonnes.

On November 19, 2004 Ithaa (mother of pearl in Dhivehi) was lowered into the ocean with the help of 85 tonnes of sand ballast add under the belly of the structure. It was precisely maneuvered onto four steel piles which had been vibro-hammered four to five metres into the seabed. Finally the structure was secured to the steel piles with concrete.

The estimated life span of the restaurant is 20 years. After final outfitting, the restaurant was opened on April 15, 2005. Access is via a spiral staircase in a thatched pavilion at the end of a jetty. 

Hobbit House, Manila, Phillipines

Credit: Ithaa Underwater Dining

Image via

Long before the Lord of the Rings trilogy debuted on theatre screens, way back in 1973 the Hobbit House was founded in Manila by former Peace Corps volunteer and Tolkein fan Jim Turner. This is not about the decor though Hobbit House can be easily spotted from the street with its huge mural featuring the lead characters of Tolkien’s book.  Enter through  a huge, colorful circular door as a bell will be rung to announce your entrance.

Inside its candle lit interiors, one can recognize the paintings of scenes from the Tolkien trilogy as well as posters of local folk legend, Freddie Aguilar.  The bar features local groups performing live.

The real draw here is  ‘the smallest waiters in the world’ (they must not know about those money waiters in Japan). Yes, forget political correctness here and get used to looking down on the staff, literally.  Tourists love to take photos with accommodating mini staff. 

Other Lists of the Strange and Interesting

Extreme Driving Opportunities:  Where you can drive a racecar, a tank, a monster truck or an armored SUV.  

The Top 10 Most Dangerous Airports:  From the highest to the most remote to the shortest runway, these are places that should cause your knuckles to go a little white.

6 Amazingly Unusual Beaches:  From hot water to glass, these unusual beaches are worth seeing.

Really Unbelievable Islands:  Completely stone age, or over built, or so incredibly remote that no one has even explored most of the island, this is a trip around the world like no other.