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Restaurant Restrooms


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The bathroom at Sun Lok Kee (on Mott St. in New York's Chinatown, before it moved to Flushing) - surely one of the most beloved restaurants in New York - was probably the most disgusting restaurant bathroom on earth. Filthy, dirty, disgusting.

I'm sure that the lady upthread who made her family leave a Chinatown restaurant after seeing the bathroom would have found that one immculate compared to SLK's. Although that didn't keep me, or most people away, obviously.

Yet strangely enough, their kitchens and back-of-the-house, which I got to see twice, were immaculately clean.

After I had achieved "regular" status there, I commented on how strange it was for a place that specialized in such good seafood not to have tanks in the window as most places in Chinatown do. That prompted an invitation to come and see the tanks "downstairs" in what turned out to be a subterranean warren of rooms reached by a staircase at the back of the kitchen. And having seen their bathrooms, I was sure I didn't want to do this, truly afraid and anticipating just the worst sanitary nightmare imaginable.

But the kitchen and downstairs storage and tank areas were spotlessly clean. There was just nothing scary about the cleanliness of the kitchen, and in particular the various basement rooms with the fish tanks were as clean as could be - and in the many tanks, the glass was sparkling, and the water crystal clear! There were tank after tank of the various fish being offered, and some really gigantic lobster tanks. All as clean as you could ever hope to see!

It made us think that perhaps they kept the bathroom a pigsty for effect, honest.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I hate places that don't make it clear which is men and which is women. Cute things like having pictures of different sexed animals is just a pain to me and sorry I don't know the difference between a male and female giraffe.

But the longest it took me to figure out which was which was in Stockholm a long time ago. Both doors were right next to each other and I could not for the life of me figure out which was which as I saw no difference (long before the days of same sex bathrooms. Finally after about 5 minutes I noticed the handles on each door where different, one was formed like a D (Damer/women) and the other an H (Herrar/Men).

One place in Stockholm has a stall with two toilets in it for friends that want to talk while sitting and relieving themselves!

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One of my favourites is one of the two ladies' stalls at Quattro on 4th in Vancouver. The larger stall has a "Chloe Washlet" by Toto (the Rolls Royce of the toilet world, according to my research) installed under the seat. As you enter the stall, you notice that a) the toilet seat has a bit of an odd shape to it and b) there is something that resembles a Nintendo controller stuck to the wall next to the toilet roll. Push a few buttons on the controller, and various little streams of water, er, marinate your rump roast. This particular stall sees multiple visits by female diners during one meal, for reasons which I will leave up to your imagination.

Most confusing and slightly freaky? Kenka on St Marks Place in NYC. Their drink specials are so cheap that multiple visits to the washroom are a necessity here. There's a single room for guys and a single room for girls at the back of the restaurant, marked only by what I assume are the Japanese characters for male and female. If you plan on visiting the loo, you have to do some reconaissance for a few minutes to figure out which is which, or so I thought... Turns out when you actually get up to the doors, there are two tiny pieces of paper on each of the doors - Japanese line drawings of the male and female anatomy. :smile: If anyone else has been to this restaurant, you won't be surprised - all their menus and fresh sheets are illustrated with line drawing porn. Strange place.

Jenn

"She's not that kind of a girl, Booger!"

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Someone upthread mentioned Mantra in Boston. The bathrooms (and the men's room in particular) created such a stir when that restaurant was opened that there were entire newspaper articles written about them (and the same issue of not being able to distinguish the urinals from the sinks was mentioned). What I found really disconcerting was that the doors to the stalls were made of one-way glass. You couldn't see in from the outside, but once you were in the stall you could see everyting else going on in the bathroom. Really weird sensation - you knew nobody could see you but still felt like you were on display.

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The restaurant restroom that's impressed me most is alo at Madonna Inn... but not the famous men's room.

It's the ladies' room by their cafe. Not only did it have a separate children's toilet stall, but there was a child's level porcelain washbasin in the line-up of sinks, complete with floral decals and a gilt faucet in the shape of a duck. My young daughter didn't want to leave!!!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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So much to say here...

-- I would like to request one of our New Yorkers to bring a digital camera to the Cupcake Cafe on 9th Ave at 39th and provide us with a glimpse of its wonder. If Sartre himself were alive to choose the perfect, cramped locale in which to stage the the bodily and existential drama of measuring relief against hygiene a la No Exit, this is the place. Get those cupcakes to go, friend.

-- The bathroom at Al Forno here in Providence is quite beautiful, done over in slate, with a wonderful sink and simple spigot. Unhappily, there is no sign that says, "Turn the super-high-pressure spigot verrrrrrry slowly," so most people leave the bathroom looking as if they lost control of their overful bladders during a titanic seizure.

-- As a father of two with a new infant, I am now looking forward to reliving the pleasures of changing our precious daughter while kneeling on many, many urine-pocked, shite-stained men's room floors. The really fun part is banging your head on the sink as you lift your changed child out of the filth. Fun!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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The men's loo at Felix, a very upscale bar at the Hong Kong Peninsula is rather unique.  The urinals are against the exterior wall and above those urinals are windows reaching all the way to the ceiling. So basically, when relieving yourself, it seems like you're peeing into Hong Kong.

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! Especially after a long day! :)

This just reminded me...

On a trip to Austria when I was ~ 7 or so our family made a day hike up a mountain outisde of Graz. At the top was a tiny, informal Gasthaus with food and drink; it was perched right on the edge of the mountain; you actually had to walk down some steps to get to it. Well, the bathroom was perched even more on the edge; when you went to the bathroom and looked into the bowl it was all air for a few thousand feet!

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Blame Philippe Starck for the frustrating bathroom--the totally perplexing men's room at the Paramount Hotel defined 80's urinalia...though I think coed toilets were originally designed for the equal distribution of cocaine.

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There is a restaurant in ridgewood, nj where the bathroom is a topic of conversation. I shall keep the name a secret.

You have to walk up a flight of stairs and half way up them, you have to open a door (yes!! on the stair case without a landing). :hmmm:

The men's room is on the top of the stairs. However, the ladies room, you have to step off the stair case mid steps. :wacko: In addition, the bathrooms are one at a time and are extremely small.

I am slighlty heavy, and I found the men's room ridiculously small. As a was coming out of the bathroom, a woman was waiting for the ladies room to clear, said I was peeing to loudly!! :shock: She had to many cocktails!!

I also heard a story from a friend of mine, that a child was sitting on the steps (to the bathroom), and a customer opened the door coming back down and whaled the child in the head.

This is a restaurant where you don't want to have to many cocktails!! Don't even bother. Hold it in!

I hope this was entertaining.

"To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his (her) happiness for as long as he is under your roof."

Brillat Savarin

You don't have to like everything I make, but you still have to eat it.

A Co-Worker from Work

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Back before the broadband boom, we wen't to a restaurant in Southbank in Melbourne which was the ultra-trendy hip yuppie place to be seen back then. Anyway, the toilet was so small that opening the door would trip the IR sensor for the hand dryer, but, quite bizarrely, on the wall next to the sink, there was a convenient telephone jack provided. Presumably for the client who wanted to dial in with his laptop and check his email while on the can.

You just don't see that attention to detail anymore today.

PS: I am a guy.

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It takes a *lot* to scare me away from a bathroom. I do grant special dispensations to, say, old Chinatown restaurants with funky bathrooms--there seems to be this informal rule that the better the food in one of these joints, the freakier the loo. But I give extra negative marks to places that aspire to higher pretensions but let their bathrooms turn into a sty--as does one bar/restaurant/nightclub here in San Diego which shall remain nameless as Fearless Housemate's band plays there regularly, which unfortunately means I've spent too many nights there wading through discarded toiletpaper on the floor of the bathroom only to discover no paper left in the stalls themselves.

There's another bar here in the greater San Diego area, a comedy club, whose bathrooms turn into unintentional comedy all on their own. Not only are the men's and women's rooms incredibly tiny (they essentially took spaces small enough for single-use bathrooms and turned each into two-holers), but the hall by which you access both is miniscule. The men's room entrance is positioned such that all the women lined up for the women's room can get a good eyeful of the urinal action every time a guy sidles in or out the door. Especially after a show (with a two-drink minimum), this engendered lots of entertaining ad-libbed comments from all concerned when everyone rushed the bathrooms en masse.

As to unisex bathrooms--heh. Seen lots and lots of those. Between hippy-dippy joints with a laid-back "whatever" attitude, and high-activity gay bars ... ah yes! Memories from my mis-spent youth, wandering into the ladies' room at the current Hottest Club Of The Moment and having to fight my way through the drag queens to use the mirror. Always brings a nostalgic smile to my face. :biggrin:

But my favorite unisex loos were those in the sadly deceased Speakeasy in Seattle--I think they may have been Seattle's very first Internet cafe, a terrific space with great coffee and munchies, as well as a great live performance program, but sadly closed after a disastrous fire several years back. Speakeasy's two bathrooms had entrances side-by-side. Both doors were identical except for a flat sculptural-looking piece of brushed/distressed metal mounted about eye-level, one in the shape of a square, the other an upward-pointing equilateral triangle. I frequently saw people standing perplexed before the two doors, puzzling over which of these symbols was meant to be male and which female--if the triangle were point-down, they might have had a valid argument that it was the female symbol, but without even that cue they were at a loss. Eventually some regular would clue them in, or at least they'd notice regulars of either gender coming and going through either door as they pleased. I think that was sorta the point, to cause people to question the cultural assumptions with which they were indoctrinated. It amused me, at any rate--though admittedly I am easily amused. (By the way, the rest rooms themselves were always spotless, as was the whole rest of the cafe.)

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  • 9 months later...

In Dublin, several of the pubs and bars had UV (blacklight) lights in the stalls. In some places, that was the only light.

Perhaps it was to help the cleaning staff? :rolleyes:

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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The bathrooms at Bar 89 in Soho have a substantial amount of freak-out potential. I knew what to expect when I saw them for the first time (in fact that was the reason for my visit – I was researching the material). The doors are panels of LC (liquid crystal) glass. They but turn opaque when you shut the door.

I am SO glad you mentioned Bar 89, Blondie. I almost had to go back down to the bar and ask what was going on, I was so confused. Imagine going up there after a few martinis....:)

There's one in Philly that has those doors. If someone hadn't warned us about them beforehand, it would have definitely freaked me out. But it was funny watching the reaction of those tipsy patrons when they saw those doors.

There are restrooms in the lobby of a hotel in midtown Manhattan whose name presently escapes my mind. It's easy finding the way into the restroom, but once inside, there is no indication whatsoever of how to get out. No handles, no "push here" sign, nothing. Luckily, I was able to do my business before freaking out. I was on a date, and I had to explain what took me so long.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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I was playing darts in a pub in Carrboro, NC one night (can't remember the name of the place) but when I went to the loo, there were two doors marked "Pointers" and "Setters".

Was there some sort of hunting theme to this place? Can't remember.

Anyway, after a few brews, I could not for the life of me figure out which one to go in-so I picked door #1-only to find myself next in line with a bunch of "pointers".

I get it now, but when you are kind of drunk, it can be too much of a puzzle to figure out.

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I was playing darts in a pub in Carrboro, NC one night (can't remember the name of the place) but when I went to the loo, there were two doors marked "Pointers" and "Setters".

Was there some sort of hunting theme to this place? Can't remember.

Anyway, after a few brews, I could not for the life of me figure out which one to go in-so I picked  door #1-only to find myself next in line with a bunch of "pointers".

I get it now, but when you are kind of drunk, it can be too much of a puzzle to figure out.

Too funny. Going back in the mists of time this sounds very familar. We used to hang out at a bar (that I think it no longer in business or has another name) in Carrbaro that I seem to remember had these bathroom doors. The place I'm thinking of was the left hand side of the main Carrbaro drag (coming from Chapel Hill) and was just past the RR tracks. (Basically, it was across from Carrbaro 'mall') and near the split in the road. All the booths in the bar were pine and were heavliy shellacked. And, as it turns out, not perfectly level, so there would be fun times with sliding beers. Was this the same place??? :smile:

Oh--- I just remembered the name of the bar--it was "Sidetrack" or "Sidetracks".

(Sorry if this is a silly OT comment...)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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In Dublin, several of the pubs and bars had UV (blacklight) lights in the stalls. In some places, that was the only light.

Perhaps it was to help the cleaning staff?  :rolleyes:

I think it's to stop people shooting up in the stalls. I dont quite know how it works but a lot of train stations in Melbourne have them for that reason.

PS: I am a guy.

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In Dublin, several of the pubs and bars had UV (blacklight) lights in the stalls. In some places, that was the only light.

Perhaps it was to help the cleaning staff?  :rolleyes:

I think it's to stop people shooting up in the stalls. I dont quite know how it works but a lot of train stations in Melbourne have them for that reason.

You're right, that's exactly what it's for. The UV light makes it difficult to find a vein.

I should point out that I have no direct experience in such matters!

Si

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The subject of toilets is near and dear to my heart--or at least to my ass. Here are some of my favourite restaurant toilets.

Some restaurant in Thailand--such pretty toilet paper! The rest of the toilet was nothing to write home about.

gallery_11355_614_37467.jpg

The ceiling of the toilet at Steirereck in Vienna was the only thing good about the toilet. The toilet paper was like cardboard--I thought I restaurant like Steirereck might have better quality toilet paper than the average place, but apparently not.

gallery_11355_614_1658.jpg

The sink at my favourite Teppanyaki restaurant in Kobe, called Lapin. There are little rabbit knicknacks all over the place (in the first picture you can see a blurry rabbit picture top right), but in the sink is a little turtle. Unfortunately, sometime in the last year some a**wipe stole it!

gallery_11355_614_131.jpg

gallery_11355_614_60.jpg

A little blurry, but this is a child's toilet at the food court in Carrefour (sort of a restaurant, right?). It's teeny tiny, and the door is, too! (Not necessarily a good thing, because you can peep over the door at whatever child is using the stall.)

gallery_11355_614_300.jpg

The sink at one of my favourite coffee shop/cafe/place to hang out restaurants in Kobe. I think it's called Alo Aro. The decor above the toilet was nice, too. It changes every so often.

gallery_11355_614_42206.jpg

gallery_11355_614_46581.jpg

I just realized that I mostly have a thing for sinks, not toilets. Oh well, they're still pretty!

Edited to fix a picture.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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A long time ago, during the tail end of the occupation in Germany, I was a green young kid in the Army. I never got use to the European attitude towards relieving ones self. You could drive down a main road that always had walkways, even in the country, and men, women and children would simply stop walking and take care of their business in full view of everyone in the area. During beer fests the men’s bathroom was a piece of canvas about a foot wide suspended from sticks at the appropriated height and positioned right in the cobblestone streets over a drain. My first trip to Paris I arrived in dire need of a toilet. I spied a public facility and raced to a stall. There was no toilet paper. I learned that by ringing the little bell an old woman would open the door and give you a little piece of a cross between cardboard and paper…one at a time.

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Thant's the place! did you ever end up in the wrong bathroom?

I was playing darts in a pub in Carrboro, NC one night (can't remember the name of the place) but when I went to the loo, there were two doors marked "Pointers" and "Setters".

Was there some sort of hunting theme to this place? Can't remember.

Anyway, after a few brews, I could not for the life of me figure out which one to go in-so I picked  door #1-only to find myself next in line with a bunch of "pointers".

I get it now, but when you are kind of drunk, it can be too much of a puzzle to figure out.

Too funny. Going back in the mists of time this sounds very familar. We used to hang out at a bar (that I think it no longer in business or has another name) in Carrbaro that I seem to remember had these bathroom doors. The place I'm thinking of was the left hand side of the main Carrbaro drag (coming from Chapel Hill) and was just past the RR tracks. (Basically, it was across from Carrbaro 'mall') and near the split in the road. All the booths in the bar were pine and were heavliy shellacked. And, as it turns out, not perfectly level, so there would be fun times with sliding beers. Was this the same place??? :smile:

Oh--- I just remembered the name of the bar--it was "Sidetrack" or "Sidetracks".

(Sorry if this is a silly OT comment...)

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