Travel the World
10 Unique Dining Experiences Around the World
Restaurants try to stand out not just based on what’s on their menu, but sometimes on the ambience of the establishment as well, making it not just a meal but a complete sensory experience. Check out these 10 one-of-a-kind dining experiences from around the globe.
1. Ithaa Undersea Restaurant – Rangali Island, Maldives
As you make travel plans for the coming year, consider including one of these unique dining experiences around the world.
Located at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort is a gorgeous and intimate (seating capacity is 14 people) underwater restaurant that is five metres below sea level. Opened in 2005, the all-glass restaurant has a menu consisting of fresh seafood, beef rib eye, veal, and other gourmet items. Encased in a transparent acrylic roof, the resutaurant offers its diners a 270-degree panoramic view of sea creatures swimming in the Maldives’ crystal clear waters. A zinc paint coating protects Ithaa’s steel structure from corrosion, however, the saltwater and marine growths adhering to the paint will eventually break it down so, make a reservation while you still can.
2. Ninja New York – New York City, USA
In a review in the New York Times, Frank Bruni describes Ninja New York as “a kooky, dreary subterranean labyrinth… You are greeted there by servers in black costumes who ceaselessly bow, regularly yelp and ever so occasionally tumble.” Designed to look like a 15th-century Japanese feudal village full of dark nooks and snaking passageways, you’ll dine amongst stealthy warriors-the waiters-who roam, romp and perform tricks, all the while serving sushi and saké. Just call it Japanese fare mixed with martial arts flair at its best.
3. Dinner in the Sky – Montreal, Canada
Got an appetite for high altitude? Dinner in the Sky brings diners’ taste buds to new heights as they float 50 metres above ground to enjoy their meal. Originating in Belgium, the concept involves a crane hoisting its guests, who are securely strapped into their “dining chairs” 50 metres into the air along with a table, wait staff, and everything that’s required to enjoy a meal floating above the ground. The novelty-based mobile restaurant has gained popularity worldwide and is now offered for limited run periods in cities around the globe including Montreal.
4. Redwoods Treehouse – Warkworth, New Zealand
Built in 2008, the pod-shaped structure is situated 10 metres above the ground in a Redwood tree in the town of Warkworth, north of Auckland. Diners access the venue via an elevated treetop walkway built of redwood milled on site. The striking venue is used exclusively for private functions and events, with a capacity of 30 guests.
5. The Bubble Room – Captiva Island, Florida
Opened in 1979, this eclectic restaurant decorated with classic toys from the 1930s and 1940s started as a small one-room eatery and today has grown into a multi-themed restaurant that takes up all three stories of the house it originated in. Staff are known as “bubble scouts”, each wearing a different crazy hat. Moving trains are on all three floors and photographs of old-time movie scenes and stars adorn every available wall space. “It’s always Christmas at the Bubble Room” is a theme made evident by the presence of the many Father Christmases, the Elf Room and year-round Christmas lights. Music from the 1920s to 1940s serves as the restaurant’s soundtrack and the bright and cheerful pastel colours of the venue make it a near-hallucinatory experience. Favourites on the current menu are original items offered since the restaurant’s early days such as Socra cheese (a cheese served flamed tableside), Bubble Bread, and many of the colossal sized desserts.
6. Modern Toilet – Taipei City, Taiwan Province, People’s Republic of China
The idea for this odd restaurant was conceived by one of the owners while he was reading while sitting, where else, but on a toilet. Initially only selling ice cream-a big pile of chocolate ice cream no less-sold in containers shaped like a squat toilet. This humorous spin became a great success. By May 2004, a full-fledged, bathroom-themed eatery emerged, serving more than just ice cream. Today, Modern Toilet is a chain with locations across Asia and plans for further expansion. If the idea piques your curiosity, you’ll surely want to drop in to have a seat at one of the (non-working) toilets where meals are served in toilet bowl-shaped dinnerware.
7. De Kas – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Imagine a restaurant where the menu selections are prepared using the freshest possible ingredients, and by freshest, we mean harvested in the field at sunrise of the same day you are dining there. Welcome to De Kas, an old greenhouse in Amsterdam that was due to be demolished in 2001, but was saved by an ambitious Michelin star chef, Gert Jan Hageman, who converted the unique eight-metre high glass building into a restaurant and nursery. Mediterranean vegetables, herbs and edible flowers are grown and harvested at the greenhouse and garden near the restaurant, and Hageman can be found in De Kas’ nursery daily, working the soil, planting, weeding and harvesting herbs and vegetables.
8. Cat Café Nekorobi – Tokyo, Japan
Now this is an unusual, or shall we say different, way to have a coffee break. Nekorobi is a hip cat café located in the entertainment district of Ikebukuro where you can spend time with friends of the feline kind. Patrons enter through modern glass doors into a dimly lit joint where cats prowl and sprawl out and where a drinks dispenser vending machine offers a variety of hot and cold beverages including coffee, royal milk tea, green tea, and instant miso soup. Visit in the evening and you’ll have a chance to witness the dinnertime ritual where the kitties feast on cat food in glass food bowls arranged in a circle around a floor lamp. For feline lovers, this place is no doubt the “cat’s meow“.
9. Safe House – Milwaukee, USA
This Midwestern U.S. restaurant has a rather nondescript exterior, but that seems to be the precisely the point. Everything related to the spy-themed restaurant is based on the CIA definition of a safe house, which is meant to be a seemingly innocent premise where an intelligence organization would conduct its covert operations in relative security. Nowhere will you find a sign advertising “Safe House”, and you even need to know the password to enter the establishment. If you ever find yourself in Milwaukee, this top-secret restaurant is worth seeking out though, remember, you didn’t hear it from us.
10. O.NOIR – Toronto, Canada
Dining in the dark has been around for quite some time abroad, but the concept was only first introduced in Canada in 2006, with the opening of O.NOIR in Montreal and then a second location in Toroto in 2009. O.NOIR‘s philosophy is that a diner’s enjoyment is amplified when his sight is eliminated as the other senses become heightened. Flashlights, cellphones, and luminous watches are prohibited from the dark dining establishment. The evening in a lit bar where guests place their orders, and then are led by a server into an unlit dining room. A two-hour seated dinner service begins where servers explain where everything is placed on the table. This novel experience certainly puts a new spin on the term “blind date”.