Word Vietnam – OCT. 2014/ Coffee Cup review of Toilet Kingdom

Toilet Kingdom in Binh Thanh District, HCMC

Toilet Kingdom in Binh Thanh District, HCMC

Toilet Kingdom is a gas, but the quality of drinks may leave you bummed, according to Harry Hodge.
Down a BinhThanh back alley, the writing was on the wall.
And so the scripture read: “Thy kingdom come.” No wait, it read “Kingdom,” but was preceded by … “Toilet?”
Yup, urine for some potty humour. That’s par for the course at Toilet Kingdom, where the one room in the coffee shop you usually don’t want to see has taken center stage. You sit on toilets with Angry Bird cushions, drink out of little potties and bathtubs on glass tables over sinks with glitter and fake trees inside. Little steamers with happy buzzing flies adorn the walls and ceilings. Bathroom mirrors with stray toothbrushes and bottles of shampoo are scattered throughout.
Too call this place “cute” seems misplaced, when you consider the subject matter. If you’ve ever been stuck in a bathroom at a party, just imagine the party is IN the bathroom. It’s the brainchild of co-owners Quang Le Huu and Phuc Dung Dang Hong, and they didn’t exactly deny that a similarly themed eatery chain in Taipei called Modern Toilet might have helped with some ideas. I even passed by one when I was visiting that city’s fashionable Ximending District. But they agreed that Ho Chi Minh City patrons were ready for just such an establishment.
“We want to bring Ho Chi Minh City young people a different way to have coffee,” explained manager Quang, adding that a similar café has already been set up in Hanoi.
Showing me around the place, I pointed at one of the little steaming poops on one of the walls. Seeing me cracking up at the site of it, he exclaimed “it’s s—t!” with unbridled glee.
Right down to smoothies named King Toilet (strawberry/raspberry/blueberry/vanilla at 69.000 VND) and a parfait named Pink Love Toilet (Vanilla/strawberry with fresh berries at 68,000 VND), the drinks are named just as whimsically as the place is decorated. It’s also pretty family friendly; the only booze on hand seemed to be Bailey’s for your coffee. Having the Toilet Coffee (iced coffee with vanilla and strawberry, priced at 58,000 VND) was mostly noteworthy for me to be drinking out of the toilet-like cup, which is more kitschy than gross once you’ve gotten your head around the place. If anything, the drink itself was a bit of a bummer, so to speak, given how much time and effort had gone into the décor of the restaurant. My contingent had similar findings; inventive packaging, uninspired contents.
The actual toilets here are surprisingly conventional, save for the toilet paper being suspended from the ceiling. On this particular day it was indeed the young crowd Quang had talked about, and some tots who I’m sure are the ones who get the biggest kick out of the place. But is the whole thing a bit too “out there” for foreigners? Asking for a bowl of ice cream and getting it in a different kind of bowl is a tad much for some people, and looking around to see your friends eating out of commodes is definitely surreal.
“It’s an interesting idea,” said Helen Brook, a 25-year-old visitor from Bradford City, England. “It is a bit dubious drinking brown stuff out of a toilet, though.”
It’s up to you to decide in this modern game of thrones, although at the end you might feel pooped. Toilet Kingdom is located at 29/2A Duong D2, Ward 25, Binh Thanh District, and is open from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. For more information, visit their Facebook page.


About hodgedude

I'm a Canadian journalist and teacher, most recently living in Edmonton and Toronto, now located in Ho Chi Minh City. Graduate of Concordia University in Montreal. I've taught English in S. Korea, pulled rickshaws in Canada, taught at a Taiwanese language boot camp, edited newspapers in China and played a French-speaking Spanish colonel on Vietnamese TV. I also play Australian football. Pick up a copy of issue one of my independent comic, "Getting Lucky," at Happy Harbor Comics in Edmonton, the Comic Hunter in Moncton, New Brunswick, and the Spotted Cow Pub, 111 Bui Vien, District 1, Saigon.
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