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1. February 2019. It was with some trepidation that Wonderboy and I walked through the doors of Maidreamin Maid Café just after opening time on a Saturday morning. Kicking off a full day in Tokyo’s crazy, anything-goes Akihabara Electric Town, we figured breakfast at the city’s premier maid café chain was probably as authentic-batshit-Japanese as we could go. Springing up throughout the city in the early 2000s, the Maid Café experience is best described as a fantasy, manga-anime type deal where French-maid-dressed girls fawn over customers with as much cutesy, cute, cutey, McCuteness as one can handle. I don’t know about Wonderboy, but I felt relieved to find the place empty when we arrived. This was because a) I was glad there’d be no witnesses to whatever nonsense we were subjected to and b) with no other customers around maybe we’d get the royal Maid Café treatment… whatever exactly that entailed.
2. February 2019. Our greeter that morning was Bing Bing, a diminutive, frilly-dress wearing maid who led us to our table whilst explaining that she hailed from a distant planet called Happiness Land. “Is everyone happy in Happiness Land?” asked Wonderboy. “Oh, yes!!!” she grinned, “sooooo happy!” It also turned out that people in Happiness Land could speak English, but “just a little! Hee-hee, hee!” Handing us our menus, along with a pair of fluffy panda ears for me, dog ears for Wonderboy; Bing Bing gave us a long and confusing Japanese-language overview of the various breakfast deals on offer before leaving us to our own slightly baffled devices. She then retired to a nearby wall-of-fame style section that listed all the café’s waitresses. I managed to grab a sneaky shot of her, in total defiance of Maidreamin’s strict, no-photo and video policy. So strict in fact that some disgruntled customers claimed their phones got confiscated and photos forcibly deleted, while one couple were even ejected from the premises!
After much deliberation we were ready to order so… as per Bing Bing’s instructions… it was time to call her over with an enthusiastic “meow, meow!!!” Because, you know, cats are cute.
3. February 2019. Having done our research beforehand, we were prepared for the food and drink to be staggeringly average and overpriced. I went for the so-called Happiness Combo, which included an ironically unhappy attempt at a coffee and a cute (there’s that word again) but ultimately plain, angel cake-type creation drowned in a thick, pink custard. The combo did at least come with a gift, a Maidreamin’ key ring to help me remember my unforgettable morning with Tokyo’s cutest maids.
4. February 2019. Wonderboy’s dish was much more impressive, a massive ice cream tower punctuated with candy, marshmallows, cereal flakes and strawberry syrup. All of our food had to be blessed by everyone present. This involved us making heart shaped symbols with our hands and shrieking “mao mao” or “moo moo”, something along those lines. Along the way a second and third maid appeared. Both of their names escape me but one of them, an absolutely tiny, sullen-looking girl, told me she was born on the moon. The other girl (freakishly tall) actually spoke pretty good English, so we trotted through all the usual small talk about how cool it must be to come from London, the weather being a bit chilly and yeeeeeees Tokyo is a busy city.
5. February 2019. With our dishes despatched it was finally time to have our photo taken with a maid, as per the key element of the Happiness Combo Set. The tall, English speaking maid asked us to choose between herself, Moon Maid and Bing Bing from Happiness Land. It was a tough decision, not helped by the fact that we were refused a picture with two maids, for no discernible reason. In the end I opted for Ms. Moon because she was so damn tiny and I thought it would add even more amusement to what was already going to be a hugely comical photo.
With our photo antics done and dusted it was time for the bill, the final amount coming to a whopping 5,355 JPY for the pair of us (£37/€42.50/$48). At the same time the tall maid was all but insisting we leave them a five star review online. She was even kind enough to walk us through the process of how to do it, step by step. She wasn’t taking any chances it seems. Hilariously though the process wouldn’t work, despite her best efforts, and while Wonderboy was flailing around with it I managed to get a photo of tall maid under the pretense of attempting to scan her review barcode. A small but satisfying victory!!!
So… was our maid cafe experience a bit of a tourist trap? Definitely! But at the same time we knew what we were walking into and approached the whole thing with a philosophical mindset. At the end of the day we just wanted to experience a Tokyo Maid Cafe and sometimes you just gotta pay what you gotta pay. For me it was a fun and kooky experience, albeit massively overpriced. If you want to try Maidreamin Maid Cafe out for yourself there are multiple locations scattered all around Akihabara Electric Town, just Google map your way to the spot of your choice and… don’t forget… “meow, meow!!!”
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