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Out There: Toilet Eatery Bowls Diners Over

Foodies are feeling a little "flushed" about a new restaurant in Taiwan that serves them food in pint-sized toilet-bowl dishes.

And, yes, the food is designed to look like something that belongs in pint-sized toilet-bowl dishes.

Restaurateur Eric Wang's theme eatery, called "Marton" — named after the Chinese word for "toilet," matong — has become quite the popular one in the southern city of Kaohsiung (search), Taiwan's second-largest, since its opening last year.

You see, at Toilet, the food isn't served on boring old plates. No, no, no. The meals "bowl" diners over as they arrive at the table in miniaturized Western and Asian-style porcelain thrones.

And Wang doesn't stop with the theme. The venue is a bottomless pit of toilet tricks and treats.

Nestled in the teeny-tiny toilet bowls are squishy offerings like curry chicken rice, chocolate ice cream and anything else that reminds one of, well, the real thing.

Patrons seem to love it.

Giggling helplessly, high school student Chen Yi-lin recently gulped down a chocolate ice-cream sundae served in a miniature Asian-style squat toilet, and admitted that she is smitten.

"This is fun," she said.

Located in a downtown area with a variety of competing eateries, Marton attracts its customers through its dazzling bathroom decor.

Walking in through an arched door, diners are greeted with a giant toilet bowl sitting between two urinals. Predictably, patrons are comfortably seated on white ceramic toilet seats.

Wang, 26, opened Marton last year after a roadside prototype — a stand offering toilet-shaped ice cream cones — achieved runaway success.

Now, he says, he has moved decisively upmarket.

"Diners come and walk away with the special experience," he said. "Many try to create more fun, stirring up curry and rice so it looks exactly like when you forget to flush the toilet. Then they gulp it down."

For all its excretory excess, Marton is following in the noblest tradition of Taiwanese novelty restaurants.

Other successful ventures have purposely confined scores of contented diners to coffins or jail cells, or exposed them to full-scale pictures of Chinese dictator Mao Zedong (search), Taiwan's political nemesis until his death in 1976.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

One Thief A'Blazin'

THURMAN, N.Y. (AP) — A tip for would-be gasoline thieves: When stealing gas in the dark, don't use a lighter to see how you're doing.

Police in Warren County say that's what Glen Germain Junior did when he was siphoning gas from a dump truck at a business in the Adirondacks last month.

The sheriff's department says Germain was transferring the fuel from the truck to a gas can when he used a lighter to see how full the container had become.

That sparked a fire that caused minor burns to his face and hands. The fire spread to a nearby forklift, which was destroyed in the blaze.

Germain has been charged with petit larceny and criminal mischief.

The arrest was Germain's second in a month for stealing gasoline from businesses in the town of Thurman, about 65 miles north of Albany.

New Jersey, the 'Horrible' State?

PENNSVILLE, N.J. (AP) — Rather than simply welcoming drivers to the Garden State, a new billboard greeting people entering New Jersey over the Delaware Memorial Bridge (search) slams the state's business climate.

"Welcome to New Jersey. A horrible place to do business," reads the billboard message.

The glaring, red capital letters represent the revenge — misguided, according to officials — of a developer upset with the state's environmental regulators.

William Juliano, whose company is based in Mount Laurel, makes his feelings clear in the third of the four sentences on the cryptic billboard, which he put up just in time for the Memorial Day weekend: "DEP nightmare state."

Back in 1990, Juliano, who has built shopping centers, convenience stores, office buildings and hotels, bought some land in a prime spot near the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which is traveled by 17.5 million people each way each year.

On the land near Interchange 1 of the New Jersey Turnpike, Juliano has built a Hampton Inn and a Cracker Barrel restaurant. He also planned to build a truck stop on the land.

A previous owner received state approval for the truck stop in 1985. But the state now says the land is in a wetlands area and is unsuitable for either a truck stop or a Home Depot, which Juliano proposed building there last year.

Juliano says not being allowed to build what he wants is a symptom of bigger problems. He says the state Department of Environmental Protection has a staffer in charged of "delaying, hindering and, in general, causing havoc with their permitting process." Other developers are leaving New Jersey because of the issue, Juliano said.

"They [state officials] are anti-business," he said. "And the state is run by environmentalists."

DEP officials say Juliano's anger is misplaced. The agency, after all, has approved four of Juliano's projects over the last three years — each in under seven months.

"I think that he came to the mistaken belief that he had a personal and perpetual exemption from the wetlands laws," New Jersey Environmental Protection chief Bradley Campbell said.

So far, the state has done nothing about the billboard, and it's unclear whether it could. "At some point, we'll have to consider action against him," Campbell said, implying a potential legal fight.

Juliano believes the refusal to let him build is a violation of his civil rights. The state, he says, is taking his property rights without paying him.

Last month, he requested that the state attorney general's office look into the way the DEP works.

And at a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser last month, he approached Democratic gubernatorial candidate U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine (search) about his plight.

It's Corzine, Juliano said, who can save the day. That's the reason behind the fourth line on the billboard: "Can Senator Corzine really do anything?"

The Garden State business world isn't exactly lining up in support of Juliano's stance. The state Chamber of Commerce gives the DEP generally good reviews for its officials' willingness to listen to businesses.

And in a state with plenty of red tape, it's unfair to single out the DEP, said Michael Egenton, an assistant vice president at the chamber.

Egenton said the sign will neither help the state's reputation, nor drive business away. "I would question how many actual CEOs or businesspeople would drive by, see that and say, 'That's it, I'm not going to come to New Jersey,'" he said.

Juliano owns the billboard and said he is giving up about $10,000 per month by not renting it.

He says the billboard will stay until the DEP makes changes, including adding an ombudsman to handle concerns like his.

And within a few weeks, Juliano said he plans to put up two more signs along the Turnpike.

Explosive Toilet Owner Sues the Pants Off Contractor

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man injured when a portable toilet exploded is suing a general contractor and a coal company for negligence.

John Jenkins, 53, and his wife Ramona Jenkins, 35, of Brave, Pa., filed the lawsuit in Monongalia County Circuit Court on Tuesday. They are suing Chisler Inc., a general contractor from Fairview, and Eastern Associated Coal Corp. for $10 million in damages.

The explosion occurred July 13, 2004, at Parrish Shaft in Blacksville. Jenkins, a North West Fuels Development Inc. methane power plant operator, entered a portable toilet, sat down and tried to light a cigarette.

"When I struck the lighter, the whole thing just detonated — the whole top blew off," John Jenkins said. "I can't tell you if it blew me out the door or if I jumped out."

The lawsuit says the cigarette ignited methane gas leaking from a pipe underneath the unit.

Eastern Associated Coal Corp. owns the property where the explosion occurred. Chisler Inc. ran over the pipelines with heavy equipment before the incident, causing the methane gas leak, Jenkins alleges.

The lawsuit also says there was no sign on the portable toilet warning that smoking, matches and open flames were forbidden.

Jenkins had severe burns on his face, neck, arms, torso and legs. He is permanently disfigured, the lawsuit says.

Eastern Associated Coal is a subsidiary of Peabody Energy. A call to that company's Charleston office was not immediately returned Thursday. A man who answered the phone at Chisler's office in Fairview said he was familiar with the lawsuit and the company would have no comment. He would not give his name.

Moose on 'Par' With Third Hole

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) — Golfers had an additional hazard to deal with on the third hole at Veterans Memorial Golf Course. A female moose had settled under a tree along the third hole Tuesday.

State Fish and Wildlife officers were called and using their truck, were able to herd the moose across several fairways and eventually into some fields north of the course.

Officer Mike Johnson said resident populations of moose have grown in the state, and some herds reside as far south as Colfax.

"Every year, we probably get one or two credible reports," said Johnson, who noted those were in more remote areas. "We've never had to move one."

Compiled by FOXNews.com's Catherine Donaldson-Evans.

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