There are but five food items on the menu at Akihabara’s famous @home café: 2 variants each of cheesecake & ice cream parfait and “spughetti”. My chocolate parfait was a generous-enough serving but suffered from too much whipped cream and strangely, a bottom layer of corn flakes underneath the two scoops of frozen dairy on top.
What, you wanted more? Oh right, the whole maid thing…
If you don’t know about Akiba’s Maid Bars you should probably read this primer. I first heard of such things while watching Densha Otoko a few years ago and thus yesterday, finding myself pining for ice cream on yet another blisteringly hot day in Tokyo’s “Electric Town”, figured why not?
You first see the girls handing out flyers outside Akihabara Station — how they manage to do it in full costume with the temperature pushing 40 degrees celsius is beyond me. I had actually been given a flyer for a different bar but couldn’t find it, and instead happened upon @home by accident. Good thing, because I think it’s the most popular of them all — each of the top three floors of the building it was in had lineups outside the door!
Like Hooters in the US and A there were both male and female clientele inside; also like Hooters my experience here wasn’t the least bit titillating — maid bars specifically are mostly kitsch, or more accurately kawaii. It’s a bit sad that teenage boys (and men) come to these places just so they can talk to a girl, and this English-speaking tourist must have seemed just as awkward to the servers.
The first maid who served me had some kind of eye infection — either that or there’s some Otaku fetish for eyepatches that I’m not aware of. She was quickly replaced by the closest thing to an English-speaking person that the establishment had. Our conversation went something like this:
Maid: “Where are you from?”
Me: “I’m from Canada.”
Maid: “Canada? I’m going to Cambodia next spring…”
I did find it fascinating watching the other customers interact with the maids. For an extra charge you can have your photo taken with your server (which I asked for but didn’t get) or play a game with them. I watched the kid next to me play a miniature version of Hungry Hungry Hippos with his waitress — er, maid — not seeming to notice that she was logging every round on a piece of paper, presumably to know when her obligation was done and she could get the hell out of there.
Though I didn’t score a photo I did get a souvenir membership card to prove my attendance. It was signed by my server on the back and on the front reads “You are My Master” — which is just, you know… Wrong.