Toronto is like that with its restaurants - boring. It's why we do not have street merchants selling anything more potent than hot dogs, Polish and Italian sausages, French fries and soft ice creams. We are boring.
And, as such, there's a level of expectancy when people in Toronto go out for a meal. The food may be excellent, but the ambiance... dull... unless one is playing footsie or grabby hands under the table with your date, in which case it doesn't really matter where you are.
But what about Japan?
Of course, in Japan there are a plethora of bars to slake one's thirst and restaurants to pamper one's taste buds that are essentially identical to the Toronto ones, but more and more, in Japan not all restaurants are created equal.
There are some restaurants in Japan where the atmosphere and the theme of the place will have you shaking your head in amazement as being only something a warped person could come up with… and make it seem cool.
Now… for a good look at some of these weird Japanese restaurants, I have two dishes - best served cold like a Salad of Revenge (the House specialty):
One is via the www.kotaku.com blog, and the other Food Network Canada, and their website www.foodnetwork.ca.
Our first course is served by www.kotaku.com, who have prepared a photo essay of some of Japan's strange, curious and interesting themed restaurants.
I am listing the restaurant and then (in brackets) adding a pithy comment or description of what the place is like.
The restaurants featured are:
- The Lock-Up (hand-cuffed in a cell - not sure if there is a shower scene);
- Capcom Bar (inspired by the videogame company);
- Luxis (aqua bar - not just a drink of water);
- Maidreamin's Digitized Cafe and Dining Bar (a living, loving maid bar a la touch of video game Mario);
- Ninja Akasaka (It's got ninja, and you can never find a waiter when you want one);
- Little TGV (all aboard! For people who like trains);
- Artnia (Square Enix theme - video game company);
- Zauo (catch and eat your own seafood - I like red snapper);
- Vampire Cafe (it makes me blood thirsty);
- Thunderbirds Cafe (marionette TV show - if I can hump the girl who plays Tin-Tin, I'm there - no strings attached!);
- Sengoku Buyuuden (a samurai restaurant - I've got nothing witty here);
- Robot Restaurant (Domo arigato - that drink that looks like hydraulic fluid? It is hydraulic fluid);
- Luida's Bar: Dragon Quest (another video game place - are people that into this game that they need their own theme restaurant?);
- Alcatraz E.R. (prison hospital - in case regular hospital food isn't bad enough, now you can take it down a notch with prison hospital food. Bulls optional.);
- Planetarium Bar (Look, Raoul - stars! Is that a ring around Uranus?);
- Kamen Rider The Diner (sci-fi kids TV show. This must be full of nerds... seriously? How about a Godzilla bar? All the food might be burned, but the portions would be huge!);
- Alice In Wonderland (not just a tea party - I'm unsure if there are foods to make you larger or smaller, but maybe there's a hookah. It's not what I thought it was).
|I'm not sure if there is a dress code...|
As well… the write-ups on the restaurants are pretty much limited to a line or three… but, there are a plethora of photographs that will give you an excellent idea of what each restaurant is all about. Hey… a picture is worth a thousand words - meaning a photographer doesn't work as hard as a writer.
To see the Weird Japanese Restaurants as listed by www.kotaku.com, click HERE.
It doesn't mention the restaurant I saw on TV last night (see below).
Second RecourseNow… what inspired me to search out this stuff for you, was me killing time before the hockey game started last night - and so I caught an episode of World's Weirdest Restaurants on the Food Network Canada.
I saw: in Tokyo, there is the Love All Cafe restaurant, which revolves around geeky Japanese men in glasses and a fusion of Japanese-Italian cuisine.
While male diners are not prohibited, make no mistake about it - this is a restaurant for women.
If you are expecting beefy, sexy Chippendale dancers fawning over you and gyrating their parts in the face of the diner - you are waaaaaay off.
This is a place where the male staff (and I use that word loosely) all kind of look like Buddy Holly… actually, a nerdier version of Buddy Holly, if that is possible.
And while I have no problem in saying this guy is handsome or sexy, I can honestly say that I do not understand the appeal of these men to their female customers.
Whatever… I'm sure few people could understand how I was able to score a bevy of sexy women, either—though, unlike this bar, I didn't have to pay for it.
The guys all have glasses - and that's not a knock against people who wear glasses. I did for years until going to contact lenses, and as I've aged, I now wear glasses atop my contact lenses when I want to read a book.
As for the staff at the Love All Cafe, I'm unsure if they actually need them to correct their vision, but they wear them nonetheless.
As part of their sexy mystique, they have also developed five different ways to push their glasses back up their nose - and none of them involve getting their frames adjusted at an eye-care shop. This glass push is supposed to be a bit of a turn on for the Japanese women who frequent the bar. I can tell you that despite trying, I have never apparently mastered a sexy eyeglass push.
Now... the staff that I call Buddy Holly and the Crickets... they don't do anything obscene here - they are complete nice-boy gentlemen - which is the experience the women are paying for.
They come and sit and talk with the women - and just treat them with respect. Hey! Perhaps this is a popular restaurant because women in Japan are not afforded much respect in their daily jobs and can get it here along with a raw salmon carpaccio.
Besides the chatter and a fine meal, for an additional fee, one of the lads will take a walk around the block with the woman - and will even hold her purse or handbag during the walk… showing everyone that she can find herself a nice guy in a chauvinistic country.
Look… the fact that these guys are smart enough to capitalize on this social injustice shows that many men also see that the injustice exists.
The fact that such a bar exists - and needs to exist - boggles my mind, but at least it shows that things are changing - slowly - for the better in Japan.
Oh… and the food at Love All Cafe was rated quite nice by Canadian chef Bob Blumer on this episode.
That's A Finger Bowl, Mister Gaijin-san
If you want more weird Japanese restaurants… let's take a look at the Food Network Canada website, where you can view whole episodes of World's Weirdest Restaurants, starring Chef Bob Blumer.
You will note the number of restaurants with English names...
In the listing below, I name the episode name - the restaurant name - and a brief chaotic description.
Let's start with Season 2 and work our way back.
a) A Bite To Remember - The Vampire Cafe (isn't being undead just being alive?)
b) A Date With Love - The Love All Cafe (nerds.. or are they geeks - which is better?)
c) Flights Of Fancy - Kura Sushi (a restaurant/casino mix - I need to roll a five to avoid food poisoning)
d) Ghosts & Dragons - Namahage (Scary atmosphere? Wait until you see the bill!) )
e) Legendary Lunches - The Lock-Up (Do NOT drop the soap! Unless you like that kind of thing, of course)
f) Pie In The Sky - Elementary School Tavern (school lunch? Do they make you clean the classroom afterwards?)
g) The Gravy Train - Shinyokohama Ramen Museum (use your noodle)
h) The Tortoise And The Hare - Japan's Subtropical Teahouse (tea and lizards… the waiters work for scale.)
i) The Tortoise And The Hare - Usagi To Café (Where's my hossenfeffer? - Hey doc, ya need to watch more Bugs Bunny, if you don't know what that is)
And, if that whetted your appetite, try...
j) Down For The Count - Little TGV (for train fans - I'm assuming no women allowed? Or want to be there?)
k) Escape From Alcatraz - Calico Cat Cafe (They have cats to see and play with. Waiter… there's a hairball in my soup)
l) Escape From Alcatraz- Deco’s Dog Café - (you eat a fine meal with the dog you brought in with you. Butt-sniffing optional)
m) Escape From Alcatraz - Alcatraz ER (prison hospital food - why? Anal sex, I assume.)
n) Gone Fishing - Zauo (you fish for your supper - you're gonna need a bigger plate)
o) Gone Fishing - Criston Cafe (vampire goth food with bite… and… don't order the stake)
p) Miraculous Mermaids - Kagaya - (wacky comedic performance art by someone not on Ritalin serving Japanese home-cooking)
q) Miraculous Mermaids - Butler Cafe (Butler? Aren't they called a 'wife'?) (My wife doesn't read my writings)
r) Monkeying Around - Kayabukiya Tavern (Monkey waiters. Fleas and Monkey Pox - no charge)
s) Singing Your Supper - Arabian Rock (if the van is Moroccan…)
t) Through The Looking Glass - Alice In Wonderland (full of stuff and nonsense and waitresses dressed up like 13-year-old Victorian school girls. Oh… wait... now I get it...)
You'll notice that this Canadian food show spotted 20 weird and wonderful Japanese restaurants - many not mentioned by www.kotaku.com … and the truth is, there are many, many more.
Man… I am even more disappointed with my Toronto restaurants.
As an aside… the food wasn't the only thing to make me drool when I saw the Love All Cafe episode.
I'm not sure just how staged it was, but there was at least one female Japanese restaurant patron at the Love All Cafe that would be a 12 on anyone's scale of 10. Yes… a 12.
Thank you Food Network Canada for that all too brief interlude.
Good eats and good fun!