Thursday, January 7, 2010
Review: Pinky Cafe
I have a list of maid cafes that I have been able to track down in Akihabara. Parts of the list come from the different advertising maps that are handed out by several sources. It's not a complete list, since some of the cafes don't pay to be included on the maps, and there are always new locations opening up every few weeks. But, I was getting the feeling that the number of places left to visit had dropped down to just a handful. Then I happened to stumble on one building that has 3 more cafes in it that I hadn't known about.
Pinky Cafe has locations on both the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building. I'd visited in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday, and there were two maids out front handing out fliers. The building is right across Chuu-ou Dori from the Donkey Building. Take Chuu-ou north from the Akihabara JR station to the first streetlight, and turn left at the side street just past the light. The T&K Akiba building is 1.5 short blocks west, on the left. I'm told that the 3rd floor has a cabaret stage, but I haven' t tried checking it out yet. The 2nd floor is kind of set up like a '50s hamburger shop, with white round tables and wire chairs for seating about 20 people, with another 8 seats at the counter. The space is brightly lit, with posters and photos of the food along the walls.
The woman working the bar had a butch/dansou character going on, while the rest of the staff were dressed up as bouncy, frilly maids in red skirts and pink jackets. There's also a "ribbon" system; instead of all of the prices being in yen, they're in "ribbons". That is, the cover charge for 60 minutes is 500 ribbons, maid photos are 500 ribbons, and so on. When you sit down, a little business card holder with a ribbon tied on it is placed on the table. As you prepare to leave, you take one end of the ribbon, the maid takes the other and you untie it to signify your departure.
The main food items are variants on hamburgers, with soft drinks (500 ribbons), beer (700 ribbons) and mixed drinks 850 ribbons on up), and cake or ice cream for desserts (650 to 850 ribbons). The maids write on the plates of the desserts in strawberry syrup. Most of the burgers are in the 800-1000 ribbon range, plus 400-600 yen for the set menus (plus a soft drink and "smile potatoes"). I decided to get the Akiba Burger set for 1250 ribbons. Along with the cover and maid photo, it was 2250 yen ($25 USD) - about normal for a maid cafe.
The ice coffee was too watery, and the "Pinky added flavor chant" didn't help it much. When the burger came out, the maid and I did the same chant again and it must have worked better, because the burger was pretty good. Essentially, it's a standard burger, with a piece of lettuce, a slice of hard-boiled egg, toasted buns, and dripping with catsup and mustard. The three little smile potatoes were an odd thing in a smiley face shape, not quite boiled and not quite fried. They were golden brown but not crispy. They definitely tasted like potato, but otherwise they left me feeling confused. They were cute, though. There are a couple versions of the added flavor chant, mostly including making a heart shape with your hands, and putting the word "pinky" into the lyrics.
There were 10 customers while I was there, consisting of a mix of punks with pierced faces, businessmen and guys just out for a beer. A couple of them drew pictures of the maids on the coasters, which were then either worn by the maids as buttons or put on the wall. At least one artist seemed to be a regular, and he turned his table into a small studio, piled with albums and utensils. More people arrived as well, but when they got off the elevator, they looked around and got back on, presumably to try checking out the third floor, or Cute Room up on the fourth.
The maid photo was pretty standard, just a heart pose. But, I like the embellishments the maid added.
There is a points card. Here, it's 1000 ribbons per point. 10 points gets you a free soft drink or beer. 50 gets you a members upgrade of some kind (presumably a fancier version of the card).
Pinky 2F is a fairly standard maid cafe, with an emphasis on the hamburgers. Not a whole lot else to say about it, though it has a constant stream of customers and the maids are friendly and willing to talk to you. At least one maid could speak some English, too. I intend to visit 3F next time to see what they've got going on up there.
Name: Pinky Cafe, 2F
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.
Food: Mostly hamburgers, with some desserts, soft drinks and mixed drinks.
"Love": Standard greetings and added flavor chants.
Outfits: White and red skirts with a pink 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 is reportedly a cabaret stage. 2F is primarily a hamburger shop.
Recommendation: Pinky 2F 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. Recommended.