Saturday, March 31, 2012

@home cafe: Japan 3/2012 Day 4

A few years back, my wife and I went to our first maid cafe in Akihabara. We were kind of embarrassed at that point, though we both really did want to go (my wife's pretty liberal, she likes stuff like this). We ended up at Maid Station (now closed), which was a neat place catering to video game nerds, but I always wanted to go back and try one that was just completely over the top with the maid experience. So this time, we went to the @home cafe, which is one of the oldest and definitely the most famous maid cafe in Akihabara. (Their web site claims "2 million served.")

There is an @home cafe at Don Quijote, the same building housing the AKB48 theater, but we went to the main location nearer to Akihabara station, ironically because it's a little quieter. @home takes up four floors of the Mitsuwa building, a couple with different themes but a couple just regular, with spillover space. Supposedly it does get very crowded on nights and weekends. We found a guy inside who was a regular and recommended the sixth floor to us, because he said it had the cutest girls.

Unfortunately they don't allow photos inside (they want to sell them to you), so I didn't take any of the cafe, the food or the girls. But we did get photos with the girls that we paid for (further down).

Since it was opening time on a weekday, there weren't many people there yet and we had no problem getting in right away. About eight or nine girls work a room that seats maybe 25 people, so they give really personal service. Our maid went through everything on the menu with us and explained all the things they would do depending on what we order. For example, order the "PIPIYOPIYOPIYO♪HIYOKOSAN RICE" and they will make a cute design in ketchup on it for you. Order the "MAZEMAZE MOMOIRO SPAGETTI" (I really wish they gave souvenir menus), and they will stir it while chanting "moe moe moe KYUN!" You need to chant this with them while doing a little choreography that they teach you, and they'll bring another girl over to help out so it ends up being three or four people chanting and doing a little dance. It's funny.

They sell a set meal that comes with two courses, a drink and a souvenir photo for something like 3,000 yen, so we ordered that.

While we waited for our food, a different girl came over to talk to us and pass the time. This is part of their job - to stand there and talk to you while looking cute. She just happened to have visited New York a few weeks earlier and had seen a bunch of Broadway shows, so we actually had some stuff we could talk about.

You only get an hour to eat, then they supposedly kick you out if you haven't left on your own. Every hour, they do a little skit on the stage in front, which is just a janken (rock/paper/scissors) game with the customers set to cute music and with a lot of over the top squeals and laughter. Whoever wins gets a free photo with one of the girls. They take all of the photos on the stage in front of everyone. So the whole thing is kind of a shared experience with all the people there.

Of course they personalize the photos with cute little sayings and other writing.

I blur my wife out because she values her privacy. I blur myself out because I look like an idiot.

Before we left, another girl came over with a souvenir bag that included a set of @home candies, a sticker, the photo we had each bought and a point card. I'm not really sure what you get with higher levels on the point card, but the cards themselves are pretty funny.

Feel free to embiggen that so you can read it.

The sticker and candies:

Because there was no line (though it was pretty full by the time we left), they were pretty relaxed about our "hour" - they didn't bring our dessert until about 55 minutes in and they never tried to kick us out. When we did leave, though, all the girls lined up to literally yell thank you and goodbye at us. It was very cute!

Oh, and about the food - honestly, I've learned you don't go to a maid cafe for the food but ours was really not bad. Omelette rice is a simple dish that's hard to mess up, and mine was fine. My wife said her spaghetti was actually pretty good. Our desserts were above average - I got a chocolate cake and my wife got a *huge* parfait that was also really tasty. It was a lot better than the corn flake tiramisu at Maid Station!

1 comment:

  1. Bernd P4:19 PM

    Well I should provide some Info and update about @home Cafe. Exactly today (on Aug 14, 2014) they celebrate their 10th Anniversary since having opened their first store in Aug. 2004. Hitomi (their head maid almost from the beginning) is still in Maid service at times (else she is in the president office at 3F and otherwise doing also the representation duties & public relations work). 2F is the home of the souvenir & merchandise shop. 4F, 6F, 7F ("Honten" locations) and the DonQuijote 5F location are still the traditional themed Maidcafes. Formerly, there was a japanese themed kimono cafe ("@ Hana") at 5F on the main location which had been mostly frequented by locals. Since End 2013 there is now the "Omotenashi" Bar and Restaurant (opens from around 18:00), also themed traditionally japanese, with nice costumes of the staff, with a modern interior ambiente, and they also offer percussive instruments for recreation like the "Taito" Drum e.g. Providing good and friendly Hospitality service is on its agenda, so you will be welcomed very warm and friendly there to have a nice and relaxing stay. There is some selection of hot evening menue as well as wine, sake, ume, and other drinks - alcoholics - on the card. This location is operated by former cafe maids (mostly @ graduaters) and well, also being supervised by Hitomi in some way.


About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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