Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review: Mai Dreamin 2

Mai Dreamin' and @Home have a lot in common. Both are typical maid cafes where the maids greet you with "welcome home master" when you arrive, stir your coffee for you, perform the standard chant to improve your drink, and charge a cover price for 1 hour admittance (500 yen for Mai Dreamin', 700 for @Home). Both have more than one location (Mai Dreamin' has 2 (now up to 3), @Home has 5). Both serve alcoholic drinks, and both let you play board or video games against the maids for prizes.

The really big difference is that the mood at Mai Dreamin' is more relaxed and both the customers and the maids seem to enjoy themselves more. This review is only for Mai Dreamin' 2 (MD2), located 2 blocks west of Chuu-ou Dori, 1 block north and west of Popopure. I'll get to Mai Dreamin' 1 in a later blog entry. MD2 is on the third floor, sharing the building with Nagomi. It's a smaller space able to hold 30 people, but with a split bar that seats 16, and several sets of small white metal patio chairs, and round glass patio tables. A carpeted space in one corner is used for the maid photos, and occasionally for making announcements. When I was there on a Tuesday, at 6 PM, there were about 20 customers, including 2 foreigners and 6 or 8 women. Unlike @Home 4F, where the two female customers looked very uncomfortable, the women at MD2 were laughing and having a good time.

I received the standard "okaerinasaimase gojinsama" at the door and was guided to a stool at the bar, next to a Japanese guy that wanted to talk. We spent the next 40 minutes discussing a variety of things, primarily how great Japanese maid cafes are. I was given a menu in English, but it was missing a number of the entrees and activities listed in the Japanese version, including the 1400 yen dessert set. When I started out picking each item separately, my new friend pointed out that I could get the set, consisting of a small molten chocolate cake, a photo with a maid, and a soft drink of my choice (I chose a large ice coffee).

My coffee came out, and the maid gave me the chant to add more flavor to the drink. Here, it was "Additional flavor in, hoi hoi gyu". She was very cute when she emphasized "gyu". Then, I was invited over to the stage for the photo. At Popopure and @Home, I was given my choice from 3 different poses; this time, I was told specifically to do the cat paws pose. Later, I saw maids using 3 other poses, including one from Street Fighter. My chocolate cake then came out, with a cute little cat drawn in chocolate syrup, and the maid had me do a different chant (which still included "additional flavor in") and hand gesture over it. The dessert was kind of like a chocolate cupcake with a molten syrup center. It was really good. Better yet, I was allowed to take a photo of it.

Later, my maid photo was brought over, with lots of embellishments on it. I paid my bill, said goodbye to my friend, and was led to the door and followed out with "please come back, gojinsama". The total this time was 1900 yen, 200 less than @Home, and the dessert was a lot better. But, @Home has the video of the maids singing and dancing, while MD2 didn't. MD2 does have the "compete against the maid" for 500 yen on a video game for prizes, but I didn't see anyone doing that this time. There do seem to be the occasional song and dance events, according to the website, but these may be at random times. The website has a link to "Midori's Diary", a maid blog. The online shop offers a Mai Dreamin' CD, and a DVD. Looks like there may be a "Mai Dreamin'" purse available at the end of June.

There's no mention on the website of a points card that I can see, and I wasn't offered one on my way out. However, MD does have a special discount on the food for anyone celebrating their birthday (be prepared to bring proof of your birth date).

Name: Mai Dreamin' 2
Location: 2 blocks west of Chuu-ou Dori, just north of Popopure.
Cover: 500 yen lets you in the door to stay 1 hour.
Price: Moderate-high.
Food: Large-serving specials for the omelet and curry, as well as regular-sized entrees of the same type. Hamburger patties and pasta. Entrees in the 1100 to 1300 yen range. Soft drinks are 550, cocktails and wines are 1100 yen. Desserts include parfaits, cakes and smoothies, in the 500 to 900 yen range. The molten chocolate cake was very good.
Service: Very friendly and outgoing.
"Love": "hoi hoi gyu" over the drinks; a similar chant is made over the foods and desserts. Drawings on the food in catsup seem to be pre-chosen for you.
Outfits: Black dress with white apron and blouse.
Photos: 500 yen, with one maid, or 1400 yen as part of the dessert set.
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: 500 yen lets you play a game with the maid for prizes (maid photos, etc.) Maids occasionally sing or dance on a small stage, but I didn't get to see an example of this.
Recommendation: Mai Dreamin' 2 is a very relaxed cafe and the maids have no problems talking with the customers. There were several female customers at the time, and they also seemed to be enjoying themselves (unlike at @Home 4F). There's no real theme or gimmick here, other than the maids treating you like the master of the house, but the atmosphere is lighter and the chocolate cake dessert is really good. Recommended.

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