Thursday, October 8, 2009
Review: Mai Dreamin 3
Mai Dreamin' 3 is the newest of the Mai Dreamin' cafes, having opened in July. It's located on the 4th floor of the Kyoueki Soto-Kanda Dai Ichi building, right on Chuu-Ou Dori, half a block north of the Donkey building. The basic interior motif is the same - white and pink, with big hearts designed into the tables. It's a bit cramped, especially right in front of the elevator when people start to pour in and the next group can't get off the elevator into the cafe. The room is a long, narrow rectangle with table seating in one half, and bleacher-style bench seating (ala @Home) in the other half. The benches face the small stage in the middle. While the stage would lend itself well to song and dance performances (granted, the dances wouldn't have much movement and there's only room for 2 performers) while I was there it was used only for the maid photos.
As always, there was J-pop playing in the background. The seats were only about half full at any given time, but there was a constant influx of customers during the evening. MD3 seems to be fairly popular with western tourists - at least 3 different groups of Europeans (I could hear them talking but couldn't place the languages) came in, and about 10% of the customers (including the tourists) were women. A number of the guys were dressed up as punks, and a few of the salarymen fit the definition of otaku in suits.
The menus between all three Mai Dreamin's tend to be the same, and there were empty Dom Perignon bottles on the shelf in front of the cash register podium. MD3 does promote its mixed drinks, but it's set up to be more of a cafe than a bar. The current entree set includes your choice of pasta, omelet rice or curry, a soft drink and a maid photo for 1900 yen. The maid talked me into getting "ice", which is just a small scoop of vanilla ice cream with whipped cream and sparkles for an additional 200 yen. Together with the 500 yen cover, the total came to 2600 ($27 USD), which is on the high side for a regular dinner but about to be expected for a maid cafe.
I got the curry rice and an ice coffee. Again, the coffee was nothing special. The curry was unusual, though, in that it was a pile of rice in between 2 different curries. One was a heavier red curry that was slightly reminiscent of something from China, and the other was closer to a chicken gravy. It was definitely good and filling, but nothing like the standard Japanese curry (for one, it was mostly just sauce, without the chunks of vegetables and meat). The maid asked what I wanted drawn on the rice in catsup and I asked for a cat. Since she got started drawing right away, I assume that "a cat" is one of the more common pictures. And again, they only let you take photos of the food. As I was checking the picture on the camera, moving it around to get the angle against the lighting right on the screen, a panicked maid ran up, thinking that I was going to shoot the inside of the shop.
The maids all greeted me with the "welcome home, master" chant, and sent me out with a "be careful master" at the end. There were a number of variations on the "added flavor chant" (including "moe moe beam"). The maids were cheerful and energetic, but not particularly talkative this time. At least half could speak a little English, and the menus and instruction cards were all in (slightly error-filled) English. When it was time for the photo, the maid told me to take a cat pose, and then gave the photo to someone else to embellish. The final photo wasn't up to "maid standards", in that it didn't have anywhere near the number of hearts and flowers I've gotten from other cafes.
I need to mention one of Mai Dreamin's trademarks. You can see it in the upper left corner of the photo of the curry plate. It's a little electric light, called a "fairy candle" When you sit down, the maid greets you as having come into the house, then blows on the candle, which causes it to turn on. When you get ready to leave, she says something to the effect that you're now leaving the house and blows on the candle to make it turn off. Mai Dreamin' fairy candles are available for sale at the cash register.
Name: Mai Dreamin' 3
Location: East side of Chuu-ou Dori, just north of the Donkey building. On the 4th floor.
Cover: 500 yen lets you in the door to stay 1 hour.
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 800 to 1000 yen range. Soft drinks are 500, cocktails and wines are 1100 yen. Desserts include parfaits, cakes and smoothies, in the 700 to 900 yen range.This location is more of a bar, and features bottles of Dom Perignon.
Service: Very friendly and outgoing.
"Love": "hoi hoi gyu" over the drinks; a similar chant is made over the foods and desserts. Drawings of your choice on the food in catsup.
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.) Various events throughout the year.
Recommendation: Like Mai Dreamin' 1 and 2, Mai Dreamin' 3 is a very relaxed cafe. It's also very popular with tourists. There's no real theme or gimmick here, other than the maids treating you like the master of the house, but the atmosphere is light and the food is good. Recommended, although I preferred the friendlier setting of MD2.