Saturday, June 2, 2012

Exploring Tokyo: Theme Cafes

I'd like to start a new series of posts about the cool places I've discovered in Tokyo. Each post will have a particular theme, such as museums, crafts, fashion, etc, or be about a certain neighborhood. I thought I'd kick it off with a post about theme cafes.

Coffee Prince - Shinokubo 

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Shinokubo is Tokyo's Korean district, where you can find lots of delicious food, K-pop idol stores and crazed K-pop idol fans. One of Korea's older but still well-loved TV dramas is "Coffee Prince", which also happens to be my favorite Asian drama. I checked out the Coffee Prince Cafe, themed after the one from the drama, two years ago when I first came to Japan. It's very cute and looks a lot like the one from the show and the drinks were a bit expensive but good. Since then it's gotten on TV and become super-popular, so look out for crowds.

Star Cafe - Ikebukuro

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I recently went to the famous Planetarium in Ikebukuro's Sunshine City shopping center. To complete the experience we visited the nearby Star Cafe. The decor was like a 50's style cafe with star-themed everything, and there were specialty parfaits inspired by each of the Western Zodiac signs. But in my opinion the appearance was better than the quality- the parfait's were typical Japan- all whipped cream and corn flakes under the ice cream, not really my thing.

Samurai Maid Cafe "Mononopu" - Akihabara

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 I wanted to try a Maid Cafe that was a little off the beaten track, so my friend and I visited Mononopu, a cafe I had seen featured on TV. It's "sengoku jidai"-themed, or "Warring States Period", in other words feudal, medieval Japan; so basically everything's got a samurai theme. Unfortunately, like many Maid Cafes, everything was overpriced, there were big fees for first time visitors, and we weren't allowed to take photos. The costumes in the picture above look all right, but up close I wasn't terribly impressed. The one good point is that the waitresses are actually fairly knowledgeable about famous samurai and that period of Japan's history.

Alcatraz/ER - Shibuya

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 Alcatraz/ER has become a big tourist attraction for foreigners visiting Shibuya. It's a horror theme cafe set up to look like Alcatraz Prison, but with a weird medical twist. All the wait staff are dressed in sexy doctor or nurse uniforms, and the drinks come out looking like crazy medical experiments like the drinks above, a lobotomy with alcohol inside the brain, which you drink via a syringe, and a set of different alcohol and mixers that come in test tubes so you can mix your own concoction in a big beaker. It's pretty inexpensive and fun, if not a bit cheesy.

Alice Fantasy Dining - Ginza

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This is the original Alice in Wonderland Cafe, located in Ginza. To enter the cafe you have to go through a little maze with giant pages from the book, and inside everything is decorate with giant trump cards, roses, illustrations of the characters, etc. The wait staff dress in Alice or Madhatter costumes and the themed food, drinks and desserts are actually pretty good (although a bit overpriced.) There is now another Alice cafe in Ikebukuro which I'm looking forward to trying out soon.

Gundam Cafe - Akihabara

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 The Gundam Cafe in Akihabara is a must-see for Gundam nerds, with themed food and drinks, including some good and surprisingly strong cocktails. There's lots of Mobile Suit models around, some collector's stuff, and a big TV screen playing the opening themes of various Gundam anime. I also recommend getting one of the Gundam-shaped taiyaki for dessert, and checking out the gift shop where you can find awesome novelty items like beam saber chopsticks and umbrellas.

4 comments:

  1. Star Cafe looks really cute, it's too bad they're not so great. I really wat to go to the Alice Cafe though, I would dress up awesome and order everything!

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  2. OMG, I wish you, Rose and Teal were here so we could all dress up and go there. It's not the same without you guys!

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  3. Tell me about it, nobody wants to dress up with me here. Damn lazy NW ppl.

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  4. Love this post! I know I'm late to the commenting ball game but :P. I've been to the Alice cafe and of course the Alcatraz/ER (did we go together?). I've brought many an unsuspecting group of friends there.

    Star Cafe sounds lame but wouldn't mind trying the Gundam cafe!

    Can't wait to read more cafe theme posts!

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