If you’re a foodie like me, then sampling the food in a foreign country probably excites you more than anything else in the world...
From savoury delights like noodles, sushi and other mouthwatering Asian dishes, to sweet treats such as Fruits of Africa Pie in Tanzania, which can be found across the rest of East Africa, there are so many wonderful dishes to discover when travelling on your gap year.
However, sometimes eating is about more than just the taste – it’s an experience.
If you want to couple your dinners with crazy concepts such as robots, earthquakes and sharks swimming overhead, then you should take a look at these six surreal dining experiences and perhaps give one or two of them a try.
Lainio Snow Village Ice Restaurant in Ylläsjärvi, Finland
Lainio Snow Village can be found just north of the Arctic Circle, where the winters are cold enough to sustain the restaurant for the entire season. It is built from the ground up with snow and ice very year, before the weather warms up and melts the ice, resulting in the need to start all over again.
With temperatures as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit, it would be impossible to keep any food warm, so the dishes served here are all cold – expect to see delicacies such as reindeer, game meatballs and, most interestingly, vodka-lingonberry jelly on the menu- herkullista!
Be sure to wrap up warm, as the walls, tables and even the chairs here are frozen.
Modern Toilet in Taipei, Taiwan
If you’re not phased by slurping up noodles from commode-shaped bowls, or eating artfully-crafted sundaes in miniature potties, then it would definitely be worth visiting the Modern Toilet for the novelty factor, if nothing else.
Here, diners perch on their very own can (with the seat down of course) and eat off glass-covered sinks or bathtubs. Toilets hang on tiled walls, illuminated by feces-shaped lights and, upon entering the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by a grinning, gold dung-shaped character before going through into the dining area.
Sheer brilliance or an utterly crap concept? You decide!
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant on Rangali Island, Maldives
Ithaa, meaning ‘pearl’ in Dhivehi, is an underwater restaurant surrounded by coral reef, which sits five metres below sea level. It serves Maldivian cuisine with Western and Asian influences in a six-course set dinner menu, with indulgences such as caviar, so be prepared to splash out! (excuse the pun.)
To enter the restaurant, you have to climb down a spiral staircase in a thatched pavilion at the end of a jetty, then enter through a curved tunnel-like roof from above. Designed by the Kuala Lumpur National Science Center, this iconic underwater structure qualifies as the world’s largest aquarium tunnel.
Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, USA
It’s no secret that Americans love big portions of food, but this rather controversial grill in Vegas (where else?) really pushes the boat out with greasy monster burgers, aptly named ‘quadruple bypass burgers’, at 8,000 calories a pop and sides of chips deep-fried in lard.
Diners are given a hospital style gown upon arrival and are served by waitresses dressed like nurses, who’ll help you out of the restaurant in a wheelchair if necessary.
If you weigh over 25 stone, then the good news is you get to dine here for free – not really something that ought to be encouraged, but if you are prepared to gamble with your health, then the Heart Attack Grill will certainly provide a meal to remember.
Disaster Café in Lloret de Mar, Spain
Want to sip Spanish red and feel the earth move beneath your feet? Well at Disaster Café, you can do just that, as it offers the unique experience of enjoying a tasty meal whilst undergoing a simulated 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
Despite your gut instinct to run away screaming, you should just keep eating, or at least try. Be sure not to put your glad rags on though, as spilled drinks and food are very common here.
The dishes are heavy, so your meal won’t go flying off the table, but accidents do happen fairly often.
Hajime Robot Restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand
Hajime is without questions one of the most popular eateries in Asia. Make a reservation here and you’ll feel like you’re a character in a sci-fi novel, as the food is brought to you by, wait for it… samurai robots!
As if the samurai suits weren’t enough, every 30 minutes, the robots perform a dance by moving their arms randomly and rotating around their axis. As for the food, it’s Japanese style and absolutely delicious.
You can either choose to make individual orders or opt for the boiling soup or Japanese barbecue set, both which include sushi dishes - mmm!
Where's the Craziest Place You've Eaten?
Have you eaten at any of these places? Or somewhere even crazier? Or perhaps you've heard of more bizarre restaurants that we’ve neglected to include. If so, let us know about them by commenting below.
And remember to download our comprehensive gap year advice guide – The Gap Adventure Blueprint – which contains several chapters to help you decide what you want to do, whether that's wildlife conservation or something else. Good luck!
on 20 / 10 / 2015