Thursday, January 14, 2010
Review: Pinky Cafe, 3F
Having visited 2F last week, I decided that I'd follow up with 3F this time. But I'd realized that I'd forgotten the points card and changed my plans to go to Cute Room on the 4th floor instead. Then, when I got to Cute Room, I found out that it's actually a conversation lounge - you're paying to sit around and just talk for a while for $40. So, 3F it was.
Pinky Cafe, 3F is very similar to the location on the 2nd floor. The primary difference is that about half of the seating area is taken up with a small wooden stage and a DJ booth. So, there are only seven 2-person tables and 5 seats at the counter. Otherwise, 3F also is a 50's-style burger joint.
One major word of warning - the cover charge can kill you here. I really should rephrase this - all maid cafes that charge an hourly rate (or for every 90 minutes) refer to this as a "table charge". Normally, the table charge is based on when you enter, and let's you stay for 60 to 90 minutes (depending on the cafe). Stay longer than that and you have to pay for another 60-90 minutes. I wasn't really sure what I was being told when I came into Pinkys 3F, but it had something to do with my arriving at 5:50 PM and there only being 10 minutes left in the hour. Later, I learned that Pinky's was charging "ON the hour" NOT "per hour". So, even though I was only there 50 minutes, I still had to pay 1000 yen in table charges. Definitely NOT worth it. But, in their defense, the maid did try to warn me up front.
Well, if 2F and 3F are almost the same, why write up a separate entry? Other than to chew up space, that is...
The answer is that having the stage does give them a chance to do some song performances, although that didn't happen while I was there. What did happen was that one of the customers ordered a rocket cocktail. Pinkys has a tendency to serve drinks in weird glasses, but for the rocket cocktail, the shaker is shaped like a rocket. When it was brought out, another maid started up the Astro Boy theme song on the PA system, and as that played all of us were asked to join in clapping and repeating the chant yelled by the maid as she shook the drink. At the end, she raised the shaker like a launching rocket and then poured the drink out. While it only filled up 2/3 of the glass (which the customer complained about) he did say that it tasted good.
For my part, I decided to get the don-burger set this time, with smiley potatoes and hot coffee for 1350 yen, plus a maid photo for another 500 yen (with the table charge it came to 2850 yen, or $32 USD). "Donburi" just refers to any food served in a bowl. Gyuu-don (beef bowl) is generally boiled beef and onions on top of a bowl of rice. With the don-burger, Pinkys took a toasted bun, cut it into quarters and put it on the bottom of the bowl. They then lined the bowl with lettuce, piled in the sliced beef and sauteed onions and topped it with the other half of the toasted and quartered bun. You're expected to eat it with chopsticks. It was pretty tasty and filling, but the 1000 yen table charge wiped out any value you would have gotten from the serving size.
The hot coffee was served in a heart-shaped cup - it looked good, but tasted thin and bitter. Pinkys does NOT know how to make good coffee. You're better off getting the beer or other soft drinks.
The one thing that you have to discard when you walk into a maid cafe, especially if you're going to get a maid photo, is any sense of self-respect that you may have had. When I went up on the stage for the photo, the maid pulled out the rabbit ears and told me to "pull a rabbit face with hands pose". This resulted in all the maids shrieking "kawaii kawaii". I guess there's a reason why none of the other customers got a maid photo that night.
There were 10 customers while I was there, all male, and mostly young salarymen, but with a couple older guys in casual street clothes. One of the older guys actually gave off a harley biker vibe. The maids were friendly, but mostly too busy for just standing around and chatting. On the PA they played a mix of hard rock, Japanese death metal and light j-pop. And, it turns out that Pinky's has its own "maid info channel", a little TV studio on the first floor where they record the maids doing promos for the cafe, which is then run on a loop on the screens facing the street downstairs as well as in the cafe itself. Doesn't look like anyone actually watches the maid info channel, though.
Bottom line: I inherently dislike places that have table charges, since the food and drinks are already over-priced compared to regular restaurants. One argument has been made that the table charges are intended to discourage homeless people from hanging out all day and not buying anything, but other cafes get around this by requiring a 1-drink minimum per hour. My feeling is that table charges are just one way to make up for a lack of customers, which jacks the price up and in turn keeps people from coming back. Anyway, I don't like Pinky's approach to charging on the hour. If you want a burger in a maid cafe, Pinkys has good burgers. Just be careful of when you arrive. (If you want a really good burger cheap, go somewhere else.)
Name: Pinky Cafe, 3F
Location: Go north on Chuu-ou Dori to the streetlight in front of the Donkey building. Take the side street west 1.5 short block. It's on the left, in the T&K Akiba Building.
Cover: 500 yen lets you stay 1 hour, starting on the hour.
Food: Mostly hamburgers, with some desserts, soft drinks and mixed drinks.
"Love": Standard greetings and added flavor chants.
Outfits: Red skirt and jacket.
Photos: 500 yen
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: Pinky has two cafes, on the second and third floors of the building. 3F has a cabaret stage, but both floors are primarily hamburger shops.
Recommendation: Pinky 3F doesn't really have any single elements that stand out, but there is a sense of fun throughout. From the posters showing the maid transforming from moe to greedy hamburger eater, to the interactions between the maids themselves, Pinky is an interesting place to hang out. I would recommend it except because of the excessive cover charges.