Diners in Los Angeles can now enjoy traditional Taiwanese cuisine in a not-so-traditional way, but some diners might think something stinks about the idea: Guests eat from toilet-shaped bowls while sitting on toilet seats.
Magic Restroom Café, owned by YoYo Li, a first-time restaurateur from China, picks up on the toilet-themed restaurants are already successful in parts of China and Taiwan, but it's unclear whether the gimmicky concept will work in United States, or go down the drain.
The porcelain toilet-shaped serving bowls are all purchased from Japan and come in two types: standard Western or squat, which are more common for bathrooms in Chinese and Taiwan.
Keeping with the theme, some of the entrees have names like "Smells-Like-Poop" (braised pork over rice), "Constipation" (Chinese dish made of wheat noodles topped with pork and stir-fried with zhajiang, a fermented soybean paste), and deserts like "Black Poop" (chocolate sundae) and "Bloody Number Two" (vanilla-strawberry sundae).
Some locals say they aren't poo-pooing the idea, but still think it's a little weird.
"It looks really uncomfortable and sounds gimmicky, but I'd try it once, which is usually my rule with most new things, especially in Los Angeles, where we also dine in the dark and go to bars with flying midgets," said David Beebe, a Los Angeles-based Digital Entertainment Executive and Producer. "Why not up the stakes by adding some working toilets, add adult beverages, and make it a dating show. That probably has a better chance of succeeding - at least the toilet paper can serve dual purposes."
Others say it's not a big deal and they would try it for the experience. Diana Luc works in City of Industry, where Magic Restroom is located, says she is going to have lunch there with her co-worker this week.
"I would give the Magic Restroom a try, purely for the experience," she said. "However, this idea is hard to swallow, literally."
The restaurant is expected to draw local crowds of Taiwanese and Chinese decent, who are already familiar with the concept.
"[Asians] just can't resist these gimmicky fads involving food," said Tony Wei, a local of Taiwanese decent. "I, being Taiwanese, also can't resist said gimmicky fads. And I would definitely eat at this restaurant as I can't resist my people's food."