It's hunger games at prison themed restaurant in China

This picture taken on Sept 9, 2014 shows a musician performing at a prison themed restaurant in Tianjin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on Sept 9, 2014 shows a musician performing at a prison themed restaurant in Tianjin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on Sept 9, 2014 shows a family taking a photo before their dinner at a prison themed restaurant in Tianjin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on Sept 9, 2014 shows a family taking a photo before their dinner at a prison themed restaurant in Tianjin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on Sept 9, 2014 shows a waitress handing over a cup of drink to a customer at a prison themed restaurant in Tianjin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on Sept 9, 2014 shows a waitress handing over a cup of drink to a customer at a prison themed restaurant in Tianjin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on Sept 9, 2014 shows a couple preparing to have dinner at a prison themed restaurant in Tianjin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on Sept 9, 2014 shows a couple preparing to have dinner at a prison themed restaurant in Tianjin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on Sept 9, 2014 shows a waitress carrying food to customers at a prison themed restaurant in Tianjin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on Sept 9, 2014 shows a waitress carrying food to customers at a prison themed restaurant in Tianjin. -- PHOTO: AFP

TIANJIN - Table for four? More like jail cell for four, please, if one visits a new prison-themed restaurant in China's north-easten port city of Tianjin.

The restaurant, whose name "789" sounds like an inmate's identification number, purports to offer a taste of prison life without a jail sentence, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

Customers walk down dimly-lit corridors before being "locked up" in iron-barred cells, equipped with shackles and handcuffs.

There are no such luxury as waiters to take orders, CCTV said. Instead, "inmates" must place their orders on an iPad-menu. The food - a fusion of traditional Chinese and western food - is then brought to the cell by servers and passed to the "inmates" through hatches.

"I came here to look at the design and decorations, and for an interior decoration style that really has an atmosphere. You can feel a little like you're in jail," a customer was quoted as CCTV as saying.

"I came here because I like places that I have never been to, and things I have never eaten. And I've never experienced prison... I came here to kind of experience and see what it's like to sit inside a jail cell," said another.

But it is likely real inmates will never get a "prison" like this. The restaurant features chandeliers in some of the cells and offers live music performances in the evening.

Owner Zhou Keqiang was quoted by CCTV as saying: "I let customers see how it feels to be in a jail cell. Because sometimes society feels like a jail cell.

"But here we have delicious food, warm lighting, we have our sound engineers, including a singer for our main venue, so while you're eating, you're free from all of this pressure."

Mr Zhou's idea, while novel in China, is not entirely new. Similar jail-themed restaurants had popped up in Taiwan and Japan.