Thursday, May 20, 2010
Review: Dear Cafe
Dear Cafe is quite close to Honey Honey, in Yokohama. While you can get there from the south side of the Yokohama train station, if you already know where H^2 is, just go straight west from the Lawsons 1 long block, turn left and it'll be close to your left in the same building as the cat cafe.
H^2 and Dear have a lot in common, from the similar black dress and white apron outfits, to the open, airy feel of the cafe interiors. Dear is split up between smoking and nonsmoking, with 4 two-person tables each, and 4 stools at the bar. There are some posters on the walls, including one advertising an anime series, as well as pictures of the maids. The bar has a small selection of alcohols, but it's the shelves of dishes and cups that make it feel like someone's dining room. Plus, there's a big green wood cabinet dominating one wall, with a TV, stereo, shelves of manga, and albums of photos from past events. I arrived right after visiting H^2, at 1 PM, and there were just 2 maids, one working the floor and the other at the bar, and 4 male customers. The customers included one visually impaired person, 2 salarymen still in business suits, and a college student.
The maid was very outgoing, and after learning about the otaku map and my having been to other cafes in Akiba, became very excited about showing me the photo albums and talking about Dear. The college student and the visually impaired guy also chimed in and talked about places that they'd visited, too. Things got very friendly from that point, but of course, it was all in Japanese, and my (lack of) speaking skills left the others looking really confused at times. In any case, Dear is a cosplay cafe, with various event nights throughout the month. Past events included "nurse", "little sister" and some goth anime cosplays. Most of the photos in the albums are professional grade, and the staff looks like they really get into their roles. When I told my maid about Queen Dolce, she got all weak in the knees at the idea of attending a dansou bar. Although, "Garcon to Isshou ni", a shop where you can pay to talk to a dansou for up to 1 hour, left her less impressed.
Like H^2, Dear doesn't have maid photos on the menu. Instead, you have to fill up two points cards, or attend certain special events. I don't remember if it's 500 or 1000 yen per point, but my tab came to 950 yen and I only got one point on the card. For 5 cards you get a free dessert. 10 gets a group maid photo. 20 is a present, and 30 is a special.
For the menu, they have pastas, curries, rice dishes and beef bowls between 800 and 1000 yen. Snacks between 200 and 600 yen. Soups for 150 to 500 yen. Crepes, sponge cakes and parfaits between 500 and 1000 yen. Soft drinks around 600 yen, and mixed drinks and beer for 500 to 900 yen. Having just had lunch, I went with the dessert set, including an ice coffee and a chocolate mont blanc. The coffee came out in a tall glass, and the maid added the syrup and cream and stirred it for me. The dessert came out a little later, and was a hard-to-describe chocolate sugar thing. I've had a mont blanc at a maid cafe before and this one was very similar. Not that large, but tasty. I was surprised when, right after setting down the dessert, my maid asked for my cell phone in order to take a photo of it for me. I guess the staff are rightly proud of their artistic food skills and want to give the customers reminders of it. Fortunately, there's no table charge so the total price was good for a maid cafe.
I'm really beginning to realize just how much difference being able to speak Japanese makes at maid cafes. Very few people I've encountered in the cafes speak English, or are willing to even try, but they'll get very talkative and helpful if given the chance. Regulars especially like to show off their knowledge of the cafe to impress the maids, which in turn encourages the maids to do one-upsmanship. I've especially enjoyed being able to get into conversations at Queen Dolce, H^2, and now Dear Cafe. The point is, though, that if you don't speak Japanese, these cafes are going to be a lot less interactive and entertaining. Be warned. Regardless, or because of this, I had a lot of fun here.
Name: Dear Cafe
Location: 1 block west of Honey Honey. Starting facing away from the Lawson's convenience store, go straight west one long block, then turn left. It'll be on your left about 20 meters down.
Cover: No cover.
Food: Pastas, curries, rice dishes and beef bowls between 800 and 1000 yen. Snacks between 200 and 600 yen. Soups for 150 to 500 yen. Crepes, sponge cakes and parfaits between 500 and 1000 yen. Soft drinks around 600 yen, and mixed drinks and beer for 500 to 900 yen.
"Love": "Welcome master" greeting when you arrive, and "please be careful" as they bow you out. Writing on the entrees in catsup, and the hot coffee drinks in chocolate syrup.
Outfits: Long black dresses with white aprons and white hair piece.
Photos: Only with the points card, and certain special events.
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: Cosplay cafe. Check the events calendar before you go.
Recommendation: Dear Cafe has some good desserts, the prices are reasonable, the staff is very friendly, and the photo albums from past event nights are fun to page through. Recommended, but try to go on an event night.