We’ve got some really quirky places to eat at in Taiwan, and it’s no secret that the Taiwanese love theme restaurants. Unfortunately, the theme restaurants that I’ve been to in Taiwan tend to offer the same kind of standard cookie-cutter set meal: Japanese pork cutlets, burger, baked rice dishes, pasta, and salads. People don’t go for the food. They go for the experience. And I am not ashamed to admit that I’m perfectly willing to put up with semi-decent fare for the thrill of having Hello Kitty stamped on my toast or a Barbie doll chair to sit on.
When I found out that the world’s first Barbie Cafe had opened in Taipei, I was pretty excited to go and see how the owners had dumped USD$1.7 million into decorating the restaurant. The food? M’eh. Not so much. We were prepared to endure a dull meal in the midst of Barbie’s favorite color pink with glass etchings and chandeliers for some added sparkle. The tables are hot pink, the chairs are wrapped up in ribbons and Barbie’s face adorns every nook and cranny. The interior of the restaurant was as Barbie-lific as we expected, but the service left much to be desired. It’s really too bad the Barbie Cafe can’t get it together. I can’t see it sticking around for long. I’ve read lots of other posts about people have the same issues with the service as we did.
We arrived for our dinner reservation at 8pm to a fairly empty restaurant. I was expecting the restaurant to be hopping. Instead, there was hardly anyone there. Even more curious was that no one was at the front desk to greet guests. We took our seats on the couch in the restaurant lobby and waited for a Barbie waitress bedazzled in a tiara and pink tutu to come out and lead us to our table.
No one came to greet us. After sitting there for 20 minutes, we wandered into the restaurant and asked the bartender where we should sit. He had no idea and called over the restaurant manager, who literally took one look at us, threw up his hands, and started shaking his head no.
“We’re too busy,” he says. Then he tells us he can’t serve us and that we need to make a reservation.
We tell him we already have a reservation. He shoots us a bit of a dirty look, and then vaguely gestures to a table with two chairs. Then we tell him that we’re a party of three, not two. He just waves towards at an empty booth. Then he turns around and walks away!
So we sit there like lumps for 20 minutes. No one brings us any water. No one even looks in our direction. We have plenty of time to look at the menu and realize that we are, indeed, not missing out on the food. Then we figure that if no one was coming, we might as well take some photos. So we snapped all of these cool photos of the Barbie Cafe and then we walked out, almost an hour after we had walked in.
And that was the sum of my experience with the Barbie Cafe. I think I’m done with theme restaurants.
Here’s a photo of the menu, which includes that set meal I was telling you about at the beginning of my post.Here’s the back of the restaurant with its famous Barbie throne and glass Barbie bathrooms.
Here’s the front of the restaurant, where we waited for 20 minutes for someone to come and greet us.
All hail Queen Barbie! NOT!
See? I told you the chairs were really cool.
Here’s the entrance to the restaurant on Zhongxiao Road in Taipei.
We had loads of time to stop and take our photos in the bathroom.
That’s me having a little fun with Barbie’s glass head.