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15 Of Asia's Most Unique Dining Experiences

15 Of Asia's Most Unique Dining Experiences
Kimberlyn
Kimberlyn
Published

You can tell what a region’s culture and mannerisms are like by what amuses the locals. You can tell what a region’s geography is like by the food served there.

This list essentially combines these two things, food and entertainment, and brings you the most outstanding and unique dining experiences in Asia. A lot of these cafes and restaurants are beautiful in their own way, sometimes the stories and motivations behind them are touching, and other times, they involve quite a bit of touching.

But, in all honesty, some of these places will leave you more confused and curious than anything. Either way, bon appetit!

1. Dreamy Camera Cafe - Gyeonggi Province, South Korea

With as many surprises as a Korean drama and a dreamy atmosphere that no Instagram filter can fake, this surreal camera-shaped cafe will capture your heart.

The Dreamy Camera Cafe building, constructed to resemble a Rolleiflex camera, was the brain child of former army pilots Park Sung-hwan and Kwak Myung-hee. The two-storey space was designed with a camera theme and with the vision of being a safe space for people to take some time and visualise their own dreams. With fans from all around the country and the world, it’s clear that the Dreamy Camera Cafe serves its purpose as a break from the pressure cooker nature of Korean society, providing a treasured sanctuary in the countryside.

꿈꾸는사진기-Dreamy Camera Cafe

Address: 341-13, Jung-won-ri, Yongmun-myeon, Yangpyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do, Korea 476-843 Yangpyeong

Opening Hours: 11 am - 6 pm, closed on Sundays and Mondays

Access: Take a cab from Yongmun station (용문역) and give instructions to driver to go to 중원리 꿈꾸는 사진기

Contact: +82 31-771-3264

Website: 꿈꾸는사진기-Dreamy Camera Cafe

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2. Bugs Cafe - Siem Reap, Cambodia

C'mon, we’re talking about Asia; you knew bugs would turn up somewhere in this article. But, unlike the usual grubby fair of fried scorpion on a satay stick, this restaurant aims to serve original gourmet dishes with their bugs. The Bugs Cafe menu features dishes such as the delicious Bug Mac, complete with a delicious bug patty. Feeling peckish? Order one of the sides like tarantula tempura or giant waterbug skewers.

Okay, most would feel squeamish while thinking about the dishes here, but honestly, if so many generations have enjoyed insects as snacks before us, and scientists predict insects will be part of a sustainable diet in the future (a pound of crickets takes 1,000 times less water to raise than a pound of beef), they can’t taste too bad. Many cite a mostly nutty flavour, with variation from region to region.

Bugs Cafe

Address: Angkor Night Market Street / Bugs Street Siem Reap, Siemreab-Otdar Meanchey, Cambodia

Opening Hours: 5.30 pm - 11.30 pm

Access: 6-minute walk from Siem Reap Night Market

Contact: (+855)17.764.560 / (+855)89.935.007

Website: Bugs Cafe

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3. Era Coffee shop - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

No signboards, no social media, and no lights, only a flickering candle in its window to indicate that it’s there. So why is the dimly lit Era Coffee shop so popular amongst locals? They serve up a mean coffee, but many say that it’s the feeling of being comforted by the darkness that keeps them coming.

Ở quán cà phê của tuổi trẻ lạc lối #saigon #somewhereinsaigon #saigoncuatien #saigoniloveyou #saigonvietnam

A photo posted by M Ộ T M É T N Ă M C H Í N (@hanhattien) on

In the dark, disconnected from the world, you can really get invested in that novel you've been putting off with a cold latte and candlelight to accompany you. Also, you feel like you're being let in on some huge secret of the hipster coffee shop district in Ho Chi Minh City! Are you interested in taking the challenge of finding this little hideaway?

Era Coffee

Address: 58 Trần Quốc Thảo, phường 7, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Address: 9.00 am – 11.00 pm

Access: 7-minute walk from bus 28 stop

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4. Pyongyang Koryo - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Their supreme leader allegedly doesn't poop. And it surely isn't because of the food #northkorea

A photo posted by Marc Woo (@marcwoohf) on

Any resident of Kuala Lumpur can tell you that many people give their restaurants odd names to make themselves stand out from the crowd, but many just sell your regular Malaysian hawker staples.

Pyongyang Koryo, however, is Malaysia’s only North Korean restaurant. Technically, it is one outlet in a chain of restaurants operated by the Haedanghwa Group, backed by the North Korean government themselves. At one point there were more than a hundred operating around the world, but many of them have closed down in recent years.

マレーシアで北朝鮮レストランに行って参りました。とてもいい勉強になった。話している言葉が本当に違くて、戸惑ったけど、なかなか聞く機会ないから新鮮だったー!!働いてる女の子でミナちゃんみたいな子が居て、「どれくらいマレーシアに住んでるんですか?」って聞いたら、微笑みで誤魔化され...「長いんですか?」と再度聞くと、「ネー」と言われたwさらに『お客様はどうして韓国語ができるんですか?(的な内容)』と聞かれたから、「あー、韓国に留学してました」ってさらっと言ったらすごくなんとも言えない表情で微笑まれた(笑)あのお店で働く女の子たちは今まで一体どういう人生を歩んできたのだろう、としみじみと思うひとときでした。 料理はとても美味しかったです❤️ #먹스타그램#여행스타그램#✈️#🇲🇾#マレーシア#旅行#북한요리#말레이시아#평양랭면#平壌冷麺

A photo posted by Rika❤️리카짱 (@l2casjhw1004) on

The experience is, as many reviewers put it, quite authentic; the waitresses are beautifully decked out in traditional garments, the air is that of secrecy and mystery, and the kimchi is spicier than the South Korean version. Try the cold noodles, they’re a national obsession.

Pyongyang Koryo

Address: Jalan Jati, Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening Hours: 12 noon - 3 pm, 5.30 pm - 10 pm

Access: 7-minute walk from Park Royal Kuala Lumpur

Contact: +60 3-2141 2380

Website: Pyongyang Koryo Restaurant

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5. Cabbages and Condoms - Bangkok, Thailand

Safety first. #cabbageandcondoms #nocondomnosex #sukhumvit #soi12 #bangkok

A photo posted by LLAP🖖 (@_thatbeardtho) on

The first bold statement this restaurant’s website makes is “Our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy”.

Just in case you really needed that extra bit of assurance.

Statues made mostly out of condoms, was an interesting sight to see at dinner last night

A photo posted by 🌙✨shannon mae✨🌙 (@shannonmaexo) on

This restaurant was started by Mechai Viravaidya, an ex-politician and philanthropist who wanted to bring pressing local issues to the forefront. Examples of these topics include sexual health, anti-corruption, and sustainability. This establishment plays an important role in the community since it is one of the only places in the country that provides sex education and assistance to street workers. The establishment also has an onsite health centre where women can get family planning and health advice.

Still, the menu at Cabbages & Condoms is filled with your favourite Thai food goodies and more, we can’t assure you that you’ll be protected from a food baby.

Cabbages & Condoms

Address: Sukhumvit 12 Alley, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110, Thailand

Opening Hours: 11 am to 22 pm

Access: 12-minute walk from Sukhumvit station

Website: Cabbages & Condoms

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6. Boys Love Academy Cafe - Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan

Maid cafes are world famous, with waitresses who provide tons of cutesy ‘moe’, entertainment, and expensively decorated food in abundance. Even butler cafes are becoming mainstream, with pop-up stores turning up at anime conventions all around the region. But in the female-oriented, pop-culture-rich area of Ikebukuro is a dashing offering of a new breed of (fan) service.

The Boys Love Academy Cafe is themed after a popular genre of female-oriented fiction, BL (Boys’ Love). It centres around steamy romances between heart-breakingly beautiful men, and this cafe is a result of those immensely popular fantasies trickling into reality.

Pay for the cute guys to make out over pocky (Japanese snacks) while you enjoy your tea and omurice (omellete with fried rice). With so much eye candy around, you’ll have no space for desert.

Boys Love Academy Cafe

Address: 3 Chome-9-13 Higashiikebukuro, 2F Toshima-ku, Tokyo-to 170-0013.

Opening Hours: weekdays - 3 pm to 10.30 pm, Saturdays - 12 noon to 5 am (next day)

Duration: 60 mins

Access: Take the JR Yamanote Line to Ikebukuro Station East Exit

Contact: +03 5985 4157

Website: Boys Love Academy Cafe

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7. AndSoForth - Singapore

The format of this pop-up restaurant is a little different. AndSoForth is an immersive dining experience that is wrapped around a story with actors who will entertain you while you feast. This multi-sensory experience takes inspiration from London’s underground dining sub-culture. The events leading up to the actual feast are shrouded in mystery; only on the day of the feast itself will you be told where to meet for the dining experience.

Every few months, AndSoForth releases a new storyline or theme for you to take part in. As guests, you are held to secrecy after the show; after all, you’ve become part of the secret.

AndSoForth

Duration: around 3 hours required

Access: It is announced the day before the event. Singapore

Contact: +65 9129 7845

Website: And So Forth

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8. The Bar Stock Exchange - Mumbai, India

#barstockexchange #allgirls #thinkalike #lovelygirls❤️

A photo posted by Riddhi Mehta (@riddhi1685) on

This concept is so nerdy and we love it. At the Bar Stock Exchange, prices of alcohol rise according to demand, just like you’re dealing with stocks in real time. The bar is extremely loyal to its theme; it has LED panels displaying the rise and fall of the market, an app for you to track your progress, and you can even see how well sales are going with the charts it generates.

This bar came about while the owners were trying to figure out how to pull crowds in on weekdays. The exciting, game-like format of purchasing drinks was an addictive experience that made consumers want to come back all the time and, as a result, the establishment’s revenue tripled. If this sort of thrill is right up your alley, check out this fun bar.

The Bar Stock Exchange

Address: Plot No.89, Pipeline Road, Safed Pul, Sakinaka, Sakinaka, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400072, India

Opening Hours: open 24 hours

Access: 14-minutes from the airport via Airport Road

Contact: +91 82680 01181

Website: The Bar Stock Exchange

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9. Ser Wong Fun 1895 - Hong Kong

The Cantonese consider snake to be a rather ‘heaty’ food, meaning that it’s great for warming the body during the winter months. Snake soup might seem a little off at first, but, in the not-so-long-ago past, it was a popular dish when the weather got cold.

However, younger generations are not so open to the idea of consuming a creature with a more ‘creepy’ reputation, leaving these snake soup shops to become more of curiosities rather than the common eating places they used to be.

Ser Wong Fun 1895

Address: 30 Cochrane St, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Hours: 11 am - 10.15 pm

Access: 9-minute walk from Central Station

Website: Attraction Name

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10. Robot Restaurant - Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Robot dances, neon colours, and flashing lights everywhere, this is definitely not a place you’d go to for a relaxing night out, but it sure is an experience. Head here for this trippy, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

My words probably don’t do it justice, so please check out the website to see for yourself the kaleidoscope of lights and mechanics this restaurant provides.

Robot Restaurant

Address: http://www.shinjuku-robot.com/pc/system.php?lng=en

Opening Hours: 4 pm - 11 pm. Timings differ on public holidays

Access: 8-minute walk from Shinjuku Station

Contact: +81 332005500

Website: Robot Restaurant

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11. Modern Toilet - Taipei, Taiwan

慶祝母親節 帶媽媽來吃飯 全面88折喲 #便所餐廳 #母親節 #新奇好吃 #moderntoilet restaurant

A photo posted by 便所歡樂主題餐廳 (@moderntoilettw) on

Remember toilet jokes? Making poo poo puns is a faux pas in the ‘adult world’, but it would be a waste if you couldn’t even crack a smile at the mischievous antics of the world famous Modern Toilet. All of its plates, bowls, and dessert plates are toilet themed. You can take your pick; some are in the shape of a modern toilet bowl, others are like traditional Asian squat toilets, and some food is served in a miniature sink.

A comida? Literalmente uma 💩

A photo posted by fernanda -- フエルナンダ (@nandadelarte) on

Dont worry, they are sanitised and safe to eat from. There’s no actual poop here, but the menu does have some dishes with names like ‘poop meatballs’.

It’s not surprising, considering that this restaurant concept did start out with serving swirls of chocolate ice cream from toilet bowls. Somehow, the innocent, funny way all of this is presented makes lame toilet jokes kind of cute.

Modern Toilet Restaurant

Address: 2F, No 7,Ln 50,Xining S. Rd., Taipei City

Opening Hours: 11.30 am - 10 pm Mondays to Thursdays. 11.30 am - 10.30 pm Fridays. 11 am - 10.30 pm Saturdays. 11 am - 10 pm Sundays.

Access: 5-minute walk from Ximen station

Contact: +886 2 2311 8822

Website: Modern Toilet

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12. Alcatraz E.R - Shibuya, Tokyo

Out of all the places on this list, I think this is one place which needs a warning. DEFINITELY not for children and not for the easily squeamish, Alcatraz E.R is based around the concept of an asylum run by corrupt and evil staff. If you think that this is just limited to creepy decor and the occasional maniacal laughter, you’re wrong.

This restaurant also has an interesting menu; there’s their famous contraception juice, which is lychee and grape with a side of a condom filled with milk. Many of the drinks are fed to you by sexy, scary nurses too. The dishes don’t hold back either; one of the hot entrees is called ‘Resectioned Liver’, which is an omelette shaped like a liver, soaked in red sauce, and dyed to look like a bloody organ. There’s also a dessert that comprises reddish jelly on a sanitary pad. There’s other, even more explicit things on the menu that I really shouldn’t describe on this family-friendly website.

There are also, from time to time, ‘shows’ that simulate insane prisoners running loose on the compounds.

If you’re really out there and this is your sort of thing, don’t miss this restaurant.

Alcatraz E.R

Address: 2-13-5 Dogenzaka, Harvest Bldg 2F, Shibuya 150-0043, Tokyo Prefecture

Opening Hours: 5 pm - 11 pm

Contact: +81 337707100

Access: 6-minute walk from the Shinsen Station on the Keiko-Inokashira Line

Website: Alcatraz E.R

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13. Ristorante Delle Mitre - Manila, Philippines

If the previous establishment on the list was a little too wild for you, here’s something to cleanse your soul. Ristorante Delle Mitre is run by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Ecclesiastically themed and with an intention to serve the nation’s hardworking religious servants at heart, the restaurant serves dishes named after famous religious figures, bishops, and sisters. Most recipes also come from the nuns and bishops that the restaurant serves.

The restaurant doubles as a museum that features bishops’ robes, posters of psalms, and historical photos / artefacts from the Catholic Church. It’s got great food too, apparently, and part of the proceeds go to feeding the poor and less fortunate. If you’d like to hang out with priests and the like while chowing down on some traditional Filipino food, this place has got you covered.

Ristorante Delle Mitre

Address: Opposite San Agustin Church, Real St, Intramuros, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines

Opening Hours: open 24 hours

Access: 16-minute walk from Manila City Hall

Contact: +02 559 5220 / +02 404 9372

Website: Ristorante Delle Mitre

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14. Fangweng Restaurant - Hubei Province, China

This is the stuff of Studio Ghibli dreams: a restaurant that hangs off the sides of a majestic cliff.

Fangweng Restaurant serves up regular Chinese fare, including some catches of fresh seafood. The walk up to the dining area gives you arresting views of the Chang Jiang River. It’s recommended that you come here during the day, as the light makes for great views. The area is pretty popular with the locals as it’s filled with activities like hiking and bungee jumping, so you could try one of those out after lunch at this great spot.

Fangweng Restaurant

Address: Xiling Gorge

Opening Hours: 9 am- 9.30 pm

Access: Take bus #10 from Yuanjiang Avenue bus station

Contact: 0717-8862179

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15. Van Gogh is Bipolar - Quezon City, Phillipines

This restaurant has a strange name and, with its messy, moody decor, can come across as a little eerie. But Van Gogh is Bipolar is a testimony to how painful experiences can give birth to one-of-a-kind food and haunting art. The owner of this place, Jetro Rafael, is an artist, and he has been diagnosed as bipolar. This abode / restaurant is a result of him experimenting with different foods and the chemicals that make them, with the philosophy in mind that food can alter moods and make people happier. The eclectic mishmash of art on the walls heightens the feeling of being inside a creative, erratic mind.

It was only just a #dream

A photo posted by Reyner Cadapan 🐙 (@balonggreyjoy) on

The foods presented are interesting and unique, many of them served with ingredients like flower petals and rare dark brown rices. Overall the place promotes creativity, relaxation, and a healthy, free mind; the Facebook page constantly provides tips for mental health and wellness. With so many rave reviews and such an interesting look, this place is a must visit while in the area.

Van Gogh is Bipolar

Address: 154 Maginhawa, Diliman, Lungsod Quezon, Kalakhang Maynila, Philippines

Opening Hours: 12pm - 15pm, 18pm - 23pm

Contact: +63 922 824 3051

Website: Van Gogh is Bipolar

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That's not all ...

There were a lot of unique restaurant and cafe choices that had to be left out but we offer you here the best of the best dining experiences. By the time you read this article, a few more interesting concept restaurants might have popped up! This reflects Asia’s ever-changing nature, especially in these fast-paced times. There is a lot more to explore of Asia’s culinary scene, so keep going down the rabbit hole and look out for curiouser and curiouser places to have your next meal.

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My name is Kimberlyn, I'm a huge fan of interesting stories and places. I love memorizing wicked facts and quirky histories. I also draw a lot on the side.

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