After spending the whole week of Christmas partying in Tokyo (I saw Trekkie Trax perform 3 times and also met Mall Grab who was on tour from London), I took the first flight to Taipei on new year’s day to begin my aesthetic adventures in Taiwan! I spent January 1st – January 9th exploring the country from top to bottom; climbing mountains, clubbing with friends, and trying the most interesting food I could find… Which lead me to this famous toilet restaurant chain in Taiwan and many other amazing things that I’m excited to write about!
Why travel out of Japan after New Year’s Eve?
Since most companies in Japan start their holiday on the last Friday of December (which was the 27th this year), it is actually cheaper to fly during the first week of the new year. I bought my roundtrip ticket through Scoot airlines for $250. Because I had been out drinking all night at Japan’s largest club, ageHa, I went to the wrong terminal twice but fortunately found my way there after some time. The airport employees were giving out free sake shots in the departure lobby to celebrate the beginning of the new year. Ironically the person that handed me one had also traveled to Michigan (my quaint hometown) and spoke almost fluent English. Already this year was off to a crazy start!
Though Tokyo is an awesome destination for partying during or before New Year’s Eve, usually the first 2 weeks of January are pretty quiet. Most of my Japanese friends go to their hometowns to spend time with family during the new year’s holiday, so my timing with this trip was perfect. I had the chance to experience a lot of inspiring music events and also say goodbye to everyone I care about before I departed. This left me in a good state of mind for the things that were yet to come. Taiwan is not affected by the new year because most people observe the Chinese New Year (later in January). My friend informed me not to come here during this time because most things will be closed.
Waking up in Taipei
After my 4 hour flight, I awoke in Taipei with only a mild hangover. The first thing I noticed was how much warmer it was here than in Tokyo (I only needed a light jacket as opposed to a winter coat). I also realized that although I don’t know any Mandarin Chinese (which is widely spoken here), I could still recognize a lot of the characters and figure out what certain places were from my kanji studies. There is a lot of English support around the city as well. The metro is easy to use (you can purchase a refillable card or single trip tokens), and it honestly feels a lot like Tokyo with less crowds and annoying tourists. I felt relaxed during most of my trip which is rare for me (usually I am always in a rush or on the go).
Eating Hotpot out of a Toilet Bowl
As per tradition, I always dine at the most meme-worthy restaurants my first night in any new country I visit (take the Unicorn Cafe in Thailand, for example). Taiwan is no exception, so I decided to try the Modern Toilet Restaurant near Ximen Station. Ximen is near the main Taipei Station and has a ton of trendy shops, claw machine games, tea shops, and delicious street food so I recommend checking it out. It was the perfect first destination for me.
Promising “Crappy Food” and “Shitty Service”, the Modern Toilet did not disappoint:
It’s amazing how popular this restaurant is between tourist and locals alike. With the lively atmosphere, toilet bowl seats, and hilariously themed menu items that you can share with your friends, I can see exactly why it is. I had to wait 10 minutes to get in, but the staff were extremely friendly and accommodating (despite advertising shitty service). Most of the dishes they have on the menu are hotpot, but there are a number of à la carte and dessert menu items as well. I settled with the vegetarian hotpot and the chocolate shaved ice.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the hotpot since I’ve had some of the best nabe in Fukuoka, Japan, and this simply couldn’t compare. The ingredients were fresh and service was good but the taste just wasn’t as delicious as how they make it in Japan (and other Asian countries). I was informed by my native Taiwan friends that this isn’t the first place you should try hotpot, but it is worth coming here for the experience.
The shaved ice, on the other hand, was beyond delicious. They topped it with condensed milk, Oreos, marshmallows, cornflakes, and a scoop of chocolate ice cream so I actually enjoyed this more than Japan’s shaved ice (which is just ice with a light flavored syrup). For a themed restaurant, the portion sizes were quite large and affordable so I would recommend coming here for the humor and meme factor. I’ve seen poop-shaped food in other countries, but eating out of a toilet bowl takes it to a whole different level.
Looking for more stinky food?
If you haven’t yet gotten your fill yet, hop on over to the nearby night market and try some stinky tofu! It really isn’t that bad considering you just ate hot pot and chocolate ice cream out of a toilet bowl. I promise.
Look forward to the rest of my Taiwan article series and have a happy new year!