These restaurants take destination dining to the next level

With the release of movies such as The Menu and the closure of legendary Danish restaurant Noma, fine dining practices and the exclusivity of gastronomy are topics increasingly addressed in conversations. In light of this, we've rounded up seven restaurants that do not provide your run-of-the-mill dining experience. 

From a teahouse precariously perched at the very top of a mountain to a restaurant five metres below sea level that is integrated with the surrounding marine life, forget everything you think you know about destination dining when you approach these unusual experiences.

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Huashan Teahouse, Huayin, China

When is a cup of tea worth risking your life? Huashan Teahouse is located on the top of Mount Huashan at an altitude of 2,160m, requiring tea lovers to ascend a flight of shallow steps carved into the side of the mountain. A set of rickety planks also forms part of the path, which is sometimes referred to as the most dangerous trail in the world. 

Pristine mountain water is used to brew the tea served, which is believed to have many benefits due to Mount Huashan's religious significance as a sacred mountain. 

See also: Legendary Danish restaurant, Noma, to shut its doors for good in 2024

Under, Lindesnes, Norway

An architectural marvel in itself, Under is the world’s largest underwater restaurant, giving diners the ability to descend 5m below sea level.  Designed by famed architectural firm Snøhetta, the structure of the restaurant is not only able to withstand the forces of nature, but works in tandem with the surrounding marine environment, functioning as an artificial reef. Fresh seafood is a large component of the fixed menu, which shifts seasonally. 

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Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China

There is much mystery surrounding Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, including the location of the restaurant. Guests are required to meet at Pairet's eatery Mr & Mrs Bund before they are taken to the secret dining room, which seats only 10. A production team is involved to transform the interior of the restaurant into an immersive theatre involving all five senses. 

Three 20-course menus are available on weekly rotation: UVA, UVB and UVC. Dishes range from a foie gras cigarette with cabbage ash to gummy bears in lime syrup. 

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Klein Jan, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Klein Jan stands in the middle of Kalahari Desert and is located over 10 hours from Cape Town and eight hours from Johannesburg. Designed by decorated chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, the dining experience begins on the porch of a 100 year old farmhouse and ends in a secret dining room, situated underground.

The menu incorporates diverse local delicacies ranging from Boscia root coffee to braaibroodjie, a South African take on grilled cheese. 

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The Rock Restaurant, Zanzibar, Tanzania

As per its namesake, The Rock Restaurant is a boulder, located on the waters of the Indian Ocean. Originally a stopover point for fisherman, it is now an iconic dining experience, providing unrestricted views of the surrounding sea. Depending on the tide, guests can either walk to the floating restaurant or take a boat. 

Expect dishes that incorporate seafood sourced from the reefs that surround the restaurant, enhanced with diverse spices from Zanzibar's local farms.  

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Ithaa Underwater Restaurant, Maldives Islands

While the Maldives Islands have various underwater dining experiences, Ithaa Underwater Restaurant is the world's first all-glass undersea restaurant. Set lunch and dinner menus showcase local flavours with Western influences, such as saffron-poached lobster, served with panoramic views of the surrounding aquatic life. 

See also: 15 new restaurants, cafés and bars in Malaysia to try in January 2023

KOKS, Faroe Islands, Denmark

Once considered the world’s most remote restaurant, reaching KOKS is a trek in itself. Guests are required to fly to the Faroe Islands before driving to a small lake. Once enough guests have arrived, a land rover will bring diners to the isolated farmhouse that houses the restaurant.

Faroese produce is prevalent throughout the seasonally-changing menu. However, KOKS has temporarily relocated to Ilimanaq, Greenland, as renovations occur to the location on the Faroe Islands. 

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