Talk about creative coping mechanisms for being alone - from the blogger who photographs selfies with his imaginary girlfriend to the company that takes your stuffed animals on vacation without you, Japan appears to be cornering the market on accommodating solo travelers.
You can now add the "anti-loneliness" Moomin House Cafe to the menagerie of "wait, what?" strokes of Japanese brilliance.
Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
The other day, a cold-hearted Brooklyn kid kicked a cat, and then the Internet exploded.
I’m with the Internet on this one. I have two cats that I’m fiercely in love with and this kind of story makes me insane.
Clearly, there are a lot of people in my camp. Witness the multiple cat cafés - casual spots that stock snacks, drinks and temporary cat companionship - that are in various stages of opening here in the U.S.
Note that local health departments have rules about live animals in eating establishments, so you’ll no doubt see a separation of the food service area from the cat hangout zone. There are also animal treatment rules to be observed; you probably won’t be able to pick up the cute cat lounging nearby, although most of these places will double as pet adoption agencies.
Note: None of these spots are open yet. To get a look at a successful cat café culture, check out Tokyo, where there are places where each cat has its own set of baby pictures, headshots and videos. Awwwwwww.
Your phone's confiscated.
Your fingerprints are taken.
You're going to prison.
But don't worry, it's just for lunch.
The Clink Charity opened its third restaurant this week inside Brixton Prison in south London.
The meals are cooked and served by actual prisoners at restaurants located inside prison walls as part of a training and qualification program to help them prepare for life on the outside.
When the first toilet-themed restaurant, Modern Toilet, opened in Taipei in 2004, public reaction was mixed.
Was it weird, funny or just plain unsavory?
Whatever the answer, the concept’s popularity quickly became obvious - the chain now has successful franchises across Asia.
London, however, has put a new spin on the business.
Read the full story - London's dash to 'toilet restaurants' – on CNN Travel.
Taiwan. Home to the first Hello Kitty-themed café, Hello Kitty-themed airplanes and now - taking cute perhaps one step too far - the world's first Barbie-themed restaurant.
Licensed by U.S. toymaker Mattel, Taiwan restaurant company Sinlaku on Wednesday opened the Barbie Café on Zhongxiao road, one of the busiest shopping districts in the capital, Taipei.
The café's decoration, costing TW$50 million (US$1.7 million), is mostly in suitably Barbie-style magenta and pink.
The furniture couldn't be more princess-y - bar tables look like the heel of a stiletto, chair backs resemble bustiers (some with a tutu) and chandeliers are shaped like elegant teapots and teacups with saucers. Barbie dolls and logos adorn walls and tabletops.
Read the full story - Tutus, tiaras and tiramisu: World's first Barbie restaurant opens
Hello Kitty fans might be the world's most spoiled travelers as the tourism industry seems determined to build a complete service chain out of that five-apple-tall bobtail cat.
Taiwan's Eva Air flies a fleet of five Hello Kitty airplanes. Dubai houses a posh Hello Kitty spa. Anji, a county some 220 kilometers southwest of Shanghai, is building a $200 million Hello Kitty theme park (scheduled to open in 2014).
And in Beijing, a Hello Kitty-themed restaurant is creating a lot of buzz.