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EATING & DRINKING

What's cooking in the khazi, ma?

By hungry hack Ignatius Rake

Posted March 10, 2012
modern toilet caters to all ages and tastes
Sit-down job: The family that eats chod together stays together. © Ignatius Rake

There can be very few people who don't dream of eating their dinner out of a toilet. Well, in Taipei that dream can come true every single day.


Although not a patch on Tokyo's Shibuya in terms of out and out freakdom, the fashionable Ximending (or Simending1) district of Taipei, the Taiwanese capital, is nonetheless awash with bustling neon-lit streets and lanes rammed with trendy boutiques and more back-combed dyed mullets than you could shake a stick at.

More importantly, it is also home to one of the world's finest excrement-themed eateries, Modern Toilet Restaurant on Lane 50, Xining South Road.

As a part-time cheeseboard Charlie, this particular hack has stuffed his face in many different eateries over the years, but never have I gorged my gullet in a place with quite such an ambience as this swish little joint.

You sit on chod bins, you eat from chod bins, you drink from chod bins and all the while a big golden turd winks down at you from a plate on the wall.

Even the lampshades are shaped like shits.

However, a faithful recreation of a public convenience this is not.

This is Taiwan and thus everything is styled in that fluffy-bunny manga manner so beloved across East Asia.

Rather than employing a thousand shades of brown as you might expect from a poo parlour, pinks, greens and blues abound with curves replacing corners at every turn.

Furthermore, despite the faecal focus there is a clear sense of hygiene: the tables are bathtubs topped with spotless glass while glistening shower heads hang in brightly lit alcoves.

Everything's clean and everything gleams.

Yep, it's unashamedly scatological but scatological in a cutesy, colourful way.

If you can imagine Pokemon taking a dump on a rainbow then you're somewhere close to the Modern Toilet aesthetic.

It's a digestive transit you want to cuddle.



food from a toilet
Dinner is served: A dump and a cuppa. What more could you want? © Ignatius Rake

WOT NO GRAFFITI?
As I plonked my Pob down on a vacant Avril, a smiling young waitress presented me with a menu.

"Thanks," I said.

Then she handed me a marker pen.

Given my surroundings, I naturally assumed she wanted me to scrawl a big jizzing cock on the wall.

However, things are clearly done differently in Taiwan because it turned out I was meant to mark off my choice on the menu with it.

Fortunately, it was one of those whiteboard pens that wipe off easily.

Catering to catholic tastes, Modern Toilet boasts a fairly broad selection of meat and veggie (s)platters, ranging from beef curry to that old Asian stalwart German smoked chicken with cream sauce.

Sadly, though, I failed to spy any bangers and mash on the menu so I opted instead for the beef hotpot as it came with a complimentary portion of the restaurant's signature dish: chocolate ice cream served like a length of dirty spine in a traditional Asian squat bog.

Once all done, I passed the menu back to the waitress.

"OK," she said. "You pay now."

"Sorry?"

"You pay now."

"What, before I've eaten it?"

"Yeah, you pay now."

"But what if it tastes like shit?"

She looked baffled.

"Sorry. It was a joke. You know, toilets and all that."

"Oh, OK. You pay now."

I slipped her T$260 (about £5 at the time) and she sauntered off, returning a short while later with a bowl of rice, a bowl of chopped chillies and a big black bum sink of broth brimming over with strips of beef, a sausage thing, enoki mushrooms, a prawn, tofu, lettuce leaf stuff, a sort of egg jobbie and Lord knows what else.

I stared at my supper.

It stared at me.

I was hungry.

It was raw.

Then I noticed movement.

My grub was bubbling.

Not only was it served in a fizz pan, but it was served in a fizz pan that fizzed to its own energy source.

I hadn't been that impressed by a cosmic utensil since I first clapped cheeks on a Japanese washlet2.

I gave my hotpot a stir and let it stew for a bit.

After all, I hadn't come here to get the trots.

As the place had no liquor licence, I was unable to knock back a pint of piss while I waited for my meal to cook.

Neither could I spark up a bum cigar.

Instead, I passed the time sipping hot jasmine tea from a somewhat smaller thunderbox, taking in my fellow punters as I did so.

Perhaps a tad surprisingly, the vast majority of patrons (something like 80%) were hip young women in designer duds or thereabouts, all gracefully grazing on ice cream curlers the size of King Kong's ring finger when not sipping stuff from bed bottles or miniaturised urinals.

Meanwhile, a nearby courting couple gazed deeply into each other's eyes, their vanilla arse pythons melting like a cynic's heart in the presence of their love.

Modern Toilet was also clearly a choice place to bring the kids before dropping them off at the pool.

As a young mother spoon fed her nipper a reel of rusty cable, two smiling pensioners enjoyed a spot of bonding around a communal cudgie with their grown-up progeny.

We raised a toast to each other, distanced by language yet united by khazis.

Somewhere, there is a moral in that.



ice cream bum goblin
Signature dish: An ice cream bum goblin. © Ignatius Rake

THE BOG VIVEUR'S VERDICT
To be brutally honest, while I had no problem despatching my ice cream bum goblin, I wasn't all that taken by my shitpot hotpot.

To be fair, though, this probably had more to do with my Western upbringing than any shortcomings on the part of the chef.

Not that I was particularly arsed, mind.

I just wanted to eat something out of a toilet and when I left, I left satisfied and far from out of pocket, although I can't help thinking my hotpot could have done with a few bits of sweet corn floating about for that added touch of realism.

Certainly what I did manage to eat (the rice, chillies, meat, prawn and sausage thing mainly) tasted a damn sight better than the stinky tofu I later bought at a night market while trying to track down some half-decent pubs.

A local delicacy, stinky tofu is basically bean curd that's been left to ferment (read rot) for a few months in what I can only assume must be a barrel of dog pus.

Why any sane person would choose to do this is beyond me.

All I know is that it reeks to high heaven and tastes like it actually has been fished out of a crapper, and a blocked one on a busy dysentery ward at that.

Ironically, this putrid rat sick was served to me on a plate.

How I managed to avoid losing my hotpot I'll never know but next time I'm in town I'll be sticking to the stuff that comes in a self-heating bum sink.


Footnotes

1) There are no (or at least very few) standardised English spellings of Taipei's streets or districts, which can make for some fun navigation when you've had a brew or two.

2) An electronic chod bin boasting a heated seat and an integrated bidet. Ingenious lot, the Japanese.


Chief hack's note: I have subsequently come across a clone of the Modern Toilet franchise in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sadly, I was in a rush at the time and didn't get to sample its wares. From what I gathered, it only sold ice cream but I could be wrong.



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