Tan Zuo Ma Li, otherwise known as The Green Isle, is one of the most famous Japanese-style restaurants in southern Taiwan. Located in Kaohsiung City, the largest industrial center in Taiwan, the 33,000-square-foot restaurant features porcelain tile from Italy and Spain, which contribute to its sustainability.

“This was the most expensive Tan Zuo Mali (The Green Isle) restaurant we had ever done,” explained Keng-Fu Lo, managing director at Chain10 Architecture & Interior Design Institute in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, who led the design. “Our client’s goal as well as our own was to be under budget, but also build value for the brand. We had to optimize usage of materials so wastage was kept to a minimum.”

Being sustainability was at the forefront of design, Lo specified porcelain tile from Imola Ceramica in Italy and Vives Ceramica in Spain because of its high quality, low maintenance and extensive lifespan. “We considered other choices, but these tiles fit in with the color and texture scheme,” Lo said. “They also create a unique, aesthetic atmosphere.”

For the exterior walkway leading to the restaurant, as well as flooring throughout the interior, the two types of porcelain tile were utilized. About 7,900 square feet of 60- x 60-cm porcelain tile from Vives Ceramica’s Ceppo Di Gre, a stone-inspired collection, was used in the gray color, “Ceppo Di Gre Gris.” Around 4,300 square feet of porcelain tile from Imola Ceramica’s Tube collection was also employed; the 120- x 120-cm, metallic-like tiles were used in the color “Brown,” with a matte finish. All of the tile was supplied locally from Sueño Ceramica.

Altogether, the restaurant took about 20 months to complete. Lo helped the client choose the piece of land where the restaurant is located, so it was important for him and his team to visit regularly throughout the duration of the project. “Once construction started, the other members of Chain10 would visit regularly to ensure that everything met our specifications,” Lo said. “After the construction was complete, I started to go more often myself to supervise the interior design. The size of the booths as well as the lighting were a big concern of mine. I wanted to make sure that the artificial lighting did not display the nature light that entered the restaurant. I manually inspected each light to make sure it did not waste the beauty of the natural light.”

Lo designed Tan Zuo Ma Li to be a restaurant, but also a gathering place for friends and family, which was certainly achieved, according to its visitors. “Most people love the atmosphere that we created,” Lo said. “It is very much a family restaurant, so when everyone is sitting around the table enjoying a meal together is when everything comes to fruition. Many customers are pleased and surprised. But this is not just a restaurant. Many people come here to take a walk and enjoy the natural environment we created.”

The Green Isle

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Architect: Chain10 Architecture & Interior Design Institute, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Tile Supplier: Sueño Ceramica, Taiwan (Imola Ceramica’s Tube collection and Vives Ceramica’s Ceppo Di Gre collection)