If the idea of having dozens of fish nibbling at your toes while you enjoy some traditional Indonesian cuisine sounds intriguing, you may want to check out this unique restaurant in Indonesia’s cultural capital of Yogyakarta.
Located far away from the city center, the Soto Cokro Kembang restaurant originally relied on a relaxing flower garden to attract patrons exhausted by the stress of urban life. However, when the owner’s father had the idea of turning the abandoned cow stalls nearby into a unique aquatic eating space, no one imagined that the quaint eatery would end up attracting people from all around the island nation. Owner Imam Nur says that the attention Soto Cokro Kembang is currently getting in the news and on social media is beyond what he ever imagined.
“We initially opened this restaurant just for locals living nearby,” Nur told AFP. “But what’s happening now is beyond what we had initially planned. It’s become like culinary tourism. Many people are coming here from different cities.”
But considering that dining in ankle-high water with thousands of small swimming around at your feet and nibbling at your skin isn’t the most common experience in the world, the popularity of this small restaurant is more than justified.
Iman Nur’s father, Susanto, turned the old cow stalls into low-level pools and filled them with around 7,000 Red Nile Tilapia fish, the kind used by spas offering controversial fish pedicures.
“When the water is calm, usually the fish will get closer to the feet,” Susanto told Tribun News. “The visitor here said that their nibbling feels pretty good.”
Although fish pedicures have become very controversial in recent years, with some cities in North America and Europe going as far as to ban them following reports of bacterial infections and animal abuse, they are still popular in Asian countries. And since the “restaurant + fish pedicure” is very novel, people have been flocking to Soto Cokro Kembang ever since it opened last year.
The fish pedicure restaurant is located quite far from the main road from Yogyakarta, but the power of social media and people’s curiosity have been so great that the place has been struggling to cope with the attention.