Tripping the light fanplastic in Taipei

Barbie Cafe, Taipei

As a child I, like most little girls, had a Barbie. She was tall and pert and pretty with her drag queen make-up and big bouffy head of blonde hair… which I hacked off before brutally mummifying her anatomically impossible body in small strips of gauze for a school project on Ancient Egypt.

I didn’t miss her. I did however score 100% for my project.

Suffice to say I’m not, and never really have been, a Barbie Girl. In fact, you might almost say I’m the anti-Barbie. I mean, I’ve only ever had the one career and the content of my wardrobe is so black that Goths stage interventions to get me to wear a little colour. My dream home décor would more likely be influenced by the Addams Family than Barbara Cartland and I’d rather tear up the streets in a rally car than a pink convertible. And, sorry Barbie, but I think Ken is a bit of a schmuck. And not too much fun in the trouser department, I’d wager.

Then there’s the glittering trail of pink that seems to follow wherever her tiny, tiny feet take her. Anyone who knows me would know that pink isn’t really my colour. And by “not really my colour” I mean the sight of it brings me out in hives.

Thankfully my baby girl, though duly embracing ribbons and tutus, shares my disdain and would rather rock a nice leopard print or bolshy ruby red than that girliest of girly hues.

But then again she’s only two and I have no doubt that somewhere in the not too distant future a crushing avalanche of hottest fuchsia will swallow my world. Until then, I avoid it. Much like one would the plague.

Which is why, my family and friends almost needed to be hospitalised from the shock when I informed them that, while on the hunt for kid-friendly haunts in fabulous Taiwan, I’d surfed an outrageously girly wave of retina-searing candy pink into Taipei’s Barbie Café.



Barbie Cafe, Taipei

Though initially I’d assumed that five minutes of the glittering ocular onslaught would cause such terror to my black-clad self that it could be defined as torture under UN conventions, I was wrong. Truth be told, I kinda liked the place!

Barbie Cafe Taipei

With quirky theme restaurants all the rage in Taiwan, and its capital city the place that the now 54 -year old Barbie (just quietly, I reckon she’s had a little work done) was originally manufactured, it’s no surprise Taipei was selected to be the home of the world’s first ever officially official Mattel-licensed Barbie Café.

The interior of the sprawling café on Zhongxiao Road, one of the busiest shopping districts in Taipei, is really something. I’m not sure what exactly, but that something is pink. Very, very pink.

Barbie Cafe, Taipei

Gallons of neon pink paint, reams of soft pink tulle and a generous dollop of glitter covers floor, walls, ceiling and every available surface between.

Barbie Cafe, Taipei

Chandeliers,  dangle decorously over pink velvet booths.

Barbie Cafe, TaipeiChairs are clad in hot pink vinyl corsets, tutus and, for reasons I can only imagine, pink bobby socks.

Barbie Cafe, Taipei

The hot pink walls are adorned with framed images of some of Barbie’s finest fashion moments and an impossibly huge portrait of the iconic blonde is the centrepiece of the quirky café.

Barbie Cafe, Taipei

There’s also a gigantic Barbie box for customers to sit in if they’d like to become a packaged, life-size Barbie. The place is so sugary sweet it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to BYO insulin.

The menu too, is dripping with pink.

Barbie Cafe, Taipei
And though Barbie’s sylph-like waistline might suggest she hasn’t been indulging herself on the selection of eye-catching pink-iced cakes, Barbie macarons or sticky sweet pink drinks served up by the tutu and tiara clad wait staff, I most certainly did. And they tasted, well… pink.

Barbie Cafe, Taipei

Barbie Cafe, Taipei

I should add a warning that the mirrored walls and doors in the ladies toilets can be a touch overwhelming if you aren’t prepared for them. A male member of my travelling party is probably going to require years of therapy after his trip to the men’s room where a grinning Barbie stared intently at him over the urinal.

Barbie Cafe, Taipei

Would I recommend it? Hell, yeah! The café that is, not the urinal. It’s a palace of pinkly perfect kitsch and I couldn’t wipe the smile of my face while I was there. The place is pure pink frosted fun and a fantasy come true for most little (or big) girls. And though I did love it, not being most, or particularly normal, I confess to rushing to Taipei’s Ninja Restaurant immediately afterwards… for a wee dose of darkness.

Ninja Restaurant, Taipei

Sadly, after infiltrating the Ninja Lair (and by infiltrating I mean pushing open the unlocked front door and casually sauntering in) we discovered an empty restaurant with lights off and a bunch of sleeping blokes in a semi-darkened room who didn’t even stir at our cries of hello! We left having out Ninja-ed the Ninja. They may want to rethink their career choice.

Still enveloped in the pink bubble of our Barbie bonanza, we weighed up the other options left in our novelty restaurant arsenal. But the airplane themed A380 Restaurant seemed a bit superfluous as we were on our way to the airport for a 10-hour flight home, and I couldn’t see the appeal of the infamous Modern Toilet – a nationwide restaurant chain where the seats are toilets, food is served in miniature toilet bowls and the chocolate soft-serve is shaped to look like, well… crap, so we called it a  glittery day.

Call me crazy but I’d rather eat from a nice sanitary fuchsia plate in the company of my new BFF, Barbie, than down my meal from a miniature urinal any day!

So, If you ever happen to find yourself in Taipei (with or without the kids in tow), I highly recommend you don some protective eye wear and head straight for The Barbie Café where, to borrow the words of late gonzo great and bona fide tripper, Hunter S. Thompson, you should “Buy the ticket, take the ride… and if it occasionally gets a little heavier [or in this case pinker] than what you had in mind, well… maybe chalk it off to forced consciousness expansion.”

Oh, and tell them Ms Eats World sends hugs!


22 Comments on Tripping the light fanplastic in Taipei

  1. Tracy @ Momaical
    June 20, 2013 at 1:34 am (11 years ago)

    Oh, so much fun! I am envious of your ability to travel the globe. Hopefully when my cherubs can sit still for more than 37 seconds my passport will come out of hiding. Even if it’s to go see the pinkatorium!

      June 20, 2013 at 6:10 pm (11 years ago)

      Just strap them down with gaff tape 😉 When you do dust off that passport, you should definitely think about Taiwan. It’s a lovely little slice of Asia that offers natural beauty, hot spring hotels, great food and really friendly people… nicely balanced with a stack of bizarre theme restaurants!

  2. NewLifeOnTheRoad (@NewLifeOnRoad)
    June 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm (11 years ago)

    Oh my! I used to love barbie when I was younger, and pink has always been my all time favorite colour but gee not sure if I could get my family to enter such a PINK place, even if they do serve such yummy food – mind you I am not sure if my hips need any more help.
    BUT you only live once so at least is an experience that you can cross of your list of things to do.
    Now the question is – would you go there on a regular basis….would anyone name it there favorite cafe?

      June 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm (11 years ago)

      It was a total hoot but though it’s great fun and a novelty for a visit or two, I’m not sure that I’d become a regular. Just a touch too pink for that 🙂

  3. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    June 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm (11 years ago)

    Oh how I love how Asia themes places! It’s brilliant isn’t it? Japan in particular commits to a theme like you wouldn’t believe!

      June 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm (11 years ago)

      It’s so much fun! Taiwan certainly does.., They even have a Hello Kitty aircraft and departure lounge at the International Airport! So cute! Am hoping to visit Japan later this year and hope to get a fix of more themed fun then. :-).

  4. Lisa
    June 21, 2013 at 11:17 am (11 years ago)

    It looks awesome and I want to go there! Although I fear all that pink would give me a headache, perhaps – surely they’d sell Hot Pink Barbie Paracetamol??!

      June 22, 2013 at 10:49 am (11 years ago)

      It is awesome but the pink paracetamol is a good idea. And never go with a hangover.

  5. Leanne Winter
    June 21, 2013 at 11:30 am (11 years ago)

    That certainly does look like a lot of pink. I’m not sure I’d be able to drag my boys in there. I never owned a barbie. I did save up my pocket money and bought a Cindy doll – remember her? – the one I got was an ice-skater with skates and a little pink leotard and skirt. Way cooler than Barbie, or so I thought.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:48 am (11 years ago)

      Cindy was cool. And I hear you, my son saw the pictures and said “don’t make me go there!” LOL 🙂

  6. This Charming Mum
    June 21, 2013 at 11:31 am (11 years ago)

    Oh my goodness I’ve never heard of this place! That’s really quite amazing. I was one of those quasi-feminist mums who said my kids would never have a Barbie doll. But once I had 2 daughters and they started getting them as gifts etc, I realised it wasn’t actually all bad. They play quite creative games with their dolls and they’re not focussed on the clothes and hair, which is what I think I presumed Barbie play was all about. My middle daughter wears pink almost exclusively, while the older one hates it. Somehow I think they would both fall in love with this place though!

      June 22, 2013 at 10:46 am (11 years ago)

      I hear you. I’d done the quasi-feminist Barbie ban on my daughter too. Less because of her unrealistic proportions and more because these days she seems to be all bout being a princess and a fashionista instead of the bolshy career woman she used to be. This place softened my stance a little though and it clicked that it’s all just a bit of fun. It’s more about what we teach our kids than what their dolls do. And why shouldn’t they have little candy-hued fun along the way.

  7. mummywifeme
    June 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm (11 years ago)

    OMG! That place looks insane. That is definitely on my must see list if I ever go to Taipei. I used to love Barbie when I was a kid, but I think even I would find that restaurant a bit of overkill … or maybe not?!?

      June 22, 2013 at 10:42 am (11 years ago)

      Complete overkill. But in the best way. 😉

  8. claireyhewitt
    June 21, 2013 at 10:31 pm (11 years ago)

    It is sooooo OTT that I would love to go there, just once.

      June 22, 2013 at 10:41 am (11 years ago)

      IT’s insanely OTT. And that is why it’s so awesome. 🙂

  9. Author Bek Mugridge (@bekmugridge)
    June 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm (11 years ago)

    Wow! I am showing my 7 yr old this! She is barbie mad,
    I let her fully go with her own style from the get go and she got around in clip clop high heels and tiaras from 2 to almost 4! She is (and always has been) a very girly girl in love with everything pink and frilly.
    My second daughter on the hand, likes trucks, bugs, jeans and boots and her favourtite colours are green and purple, would rather play with buzz lightyear than barbie and is frequently in trouble for pulling big sisters barbies heads off! (She is almost 3)
    I have to say I was actually very surprised by barbie though, I thought it would be a worry but even the movies are very girl power themed now, the girl always saves the prince! And all the movies ( yes I have had to sit through them all…they actually have story lines! I think she has come a long way, Barbie;) x

  10. modmomelleroy
    June 25, 2013 at 11:39 am (11 years ago)

    So cool. Reminds me of the Barbie foosball table I saw at FAO Schwartz for $25,000. I have pictures of it. I should send them to you. It was amazing!

      June 29, 2013 at 8:40 am (11 years ago)

      Love to see them. It was hilarious and cool in the kitschiest way.

  11. Jessica
    June 25, 2013 at 11:54 am (11 years ago)

    COOL! Gotta love that traveling! You never know wat youll encounter in other countries :). Not a Barbie fan myself but it looked like it was well worth it! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us @ My Favorite Posts SHOW OFF Weekend Blog Party 🙂

    The Wondering Brain

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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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