Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review: at_home, 7F

Finally, I finished off the set by visiting @Home 7F, in the same building as 4F, Hana and 6F. On my way up, the elevator opened on each floor, so I could see the waiting lines. 4F had about 5 people waiting; no line for Hana; about 4 people for 6F, and 6 people for 7F (3 of them were ahead of me, the rest arrived after I did). 7F has the same tiered seating facing the stage that 4F and 6F have, so the "standard @Home format" seems to be the most popular with this crowd. About 8 of the 30 customers were women; 2 arrived as a couple, the rest were with a boyfriend or husband. The couple were both middle-aged and looked uncomfortable there. The girlfriends and wives were enjoying themselves.

The only real differences between 7F and the "other F's" were that the TV over the bar was turned off, and the curtain behind the stage was white with flowers on it. Everything else was identical. Some of the customers challenged the maids to board games, with some winning and others not. Maybe half of the male customers were "otaku" (guys with bags of anime stuff they bought, and problems dealing with people in public), the rest were high school or college students or salarymen.

This time, I wanted to get a flavored kakigori (basically this is an American shaved ice snowball, but the ice is shaved thinner and fluffier) but was told that this is only available at Hana. So I settled for an "usagi-chan" dessert (600 yen) and a maid photo (500 yen). The usagi can be seen on the online menu. The ears are whip cream with strawberry syrup, with the face made using a sour cream cheesecake set on a vanilla cookie crumb base. Very tasty, but on the small side.

For the maid photo, I had my choice of animal ears, and one of 2 different poses. This was very similar to what happened at all the other @Home locations. A few minutes later it was embellished, I paid my bill (1700 yen for the night), and left. Just like with Donkey, no one bothered giving me the "please come back, master" chant. At least, the maid that brought my food order was friendly, and stopped by to talk to me every few minutes. It was a fun, regular, "maid cafe experience". However, now I've visited all of the @Home locations and I can move on to the rest of Akihabara. (Although, I'm now up to 21 points on my points card, and at 50 points I can go to a gold card. I drop by occasionally for a kakigori or anmitsu dessert just to see what happens if I level up. After that, I'll probably stop coming here for a while.)

The 4F, Hana, 6F and 7F cafes are all in the same building (floors 4-7).

The Donkey cafe is in the Donkey (Don Quixote) building across Chuu-ou Dori and down the block.

4F, 6F, 7F and Donkey all follow the same pattern as a standard maid cafe, with the maids wearing a brown dress, white apron, bloomers and stockings. A stage at the front of the cafe is used for the photos. At 4F, 6F and 7F, the stage is also occasionally used for song and dance performances by the maids, and for some events. At Hana, the maids wear kimonos shortened to look like mini skirts, bloomers and stockings, and the room is set up as a traditional tea house. One room to the side is used for the maid photos.

All of the cafes share the same base menu, but Hana is the only one that offers kakigori (shaved ice), and Donkey has its own "original" mixed drink.

In essence, 4F, 6F and 7F are the same cafe, just on different floors. Hana is the tea house, and Donkey is the tourist attraction with the 1-hour seating times.

Name: @Home 7F
Location: Around the corner from Chuu-ou Dori, on the 7th floor.
Price: Moderately-High. 700 yen cover just to get inside for 1 hour. 1100 yen entrees, 500 yen soft drinks. 1000-1100 yen cocktails.
Food: Standard food and soft drink selection, and quality. Some alcoholic mixed drinks.
Service: Very friendly and outgoing
"Love": Drawing of your choice on the food. The "moe moe gyu" chant over your drink, other chants over your food.
Outfits: Brown dresses with white aprons, stockings and bloomers.
Photos: 500 yen, with one maid, or as part of one of the food sets.
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: Some English-speaking staff; prototypical "maid cafe" setting. Maids will play games with the customers for prizes. Website in English.
Recommendation: Recommended if you have the time and are willing to wait to get inside. Otherwise, try going to 4F or 6F instead. 4F, 6F and 7F are pretty much identical. Hana has the tea house theme going for it. Donkey is like 7F, but more "touristy".

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