TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - This Taipei restaurant would consider it a compliment if customers called it an outhouse.
All 100 seats in the crowded Modern Toilet diner are made from toilet bowls, not chairs. Sink faucets and gender-coded "WC" signs appear throughout the three-storey facility, one of 12 in an island-wide chain of excrement-theme eateries.
Customers eat runny fudge-topped sundaes and chicken stews from mini plastic toilet bowls. They wipe their hands and mouths using toilet rolls hung above their tables, which may be glass-topped jumbo bathtubs.
Piles of plastic feces adorn table-side ledges.
"Most customers will bring their cameras in because the place is quite special," said Yang Chung-chi, a manager at the restaurant in north Taipei.
"When you see the food, it does look like feces," he said.
Owner Wang Tzi-wei opened his first Modern Toilet in 2004 after being inspired by a Japanese cartoon featuring restroom images. His chain started out serving desserts, some of which ooze with chocolate, berry chunks or telltale red streaks, then expanded into brown, gloopy meat dishes.
Mentions of urine, feces and blood appear on the drink list.
Modern Toilet draws on people ages 15 to 35, especially university students, because they're "easily excited," Yang said. He said older people just wouldn't get it.
"It's really unusual, so special that it doesn't gross me out," said Betty Tsai, 16, a Taipei high school sophomore trying Modern Toilet for the first time on a friend's recommendation.
But for a few customers, the toilet humor is just too much.
"My son thought it was disgusting and didn't know if he could finish his food," said Taipei mother Lin Li-ju.
Passers-by sometimes drop in asking to buy toilets before they realize the colorfully decorated seats visible from the window are furnishings and not for sale.
Up to 30 waiters with shirts bearing a WC logo keep busy after 7 p.m. serving full houses that draw largely on student groups from the three universities near Yang's facilities.
Managers say the restaurant's popularity shows that Taipei customers, who have a choice of theme-eateries that resemble jailhouses and hospitals, appreciate creative dining.
"In the evenings, we easily fill up," Yang said. "Our headquarters is still looking at expansion."
Editing by Miral Fahmy