Thursday, May 13, 2010
Review: Honey Honey
There's this belief promulgated by the media that the only place you'll find maid cafes is in Akihabara, and that Akiba is somehow "marked" by being overrun by them. Of course, neither myth is true. It is true that Akiba has the most maid cafes per capita, but that's just because they've reached critical mass there. Most major cities in Japan will at least have an "anime center" or "anime town", and a few maid cafes will appear in order to fulfill the demand around those areas.
So far, I've only found the one "otaku guide" map, which is specifically for Yokohama (I think I picked it up from Cos-Cha) as mentioned earlier. While there's no URL listed for the publisher, it looks like it may have been sponsored by Honey Honey (H^2). Since Yokohama's just 15-20 miles out from Tokyo, and is easy for me to reach by train, I decided it was time to widen my field a bit.
From Yokohama station, take the west exit and follow the streets south and east to get to where a river (actually a glorified drainage canal) cuts in to parallel the tracks south. You'll know you're in the right area when you see Yellow Submarine and the Movil theater just the other side of the river. Follow the river 1 block east then 3 blocks south until you cross under the first major street bridge. Turn right for 1 block then go left (south). You should see Lawson's convenience store on the corner on the left, and H^2 is on the second floor above it.
H^2 is a fairly typical little maid cafe and bar, with a padded bench along one wall, and 7 laminated fake-wood tables for holding up to 12 people. Two large round tables in the middle of the floor can hold 5 more people each, and there are 5 stools at the bar. The space is airy and brightly lit during the day, with big plate glass windows overlooking the street. The bar is well stocked, although there's an emphasis on big sake bottles placed right in front of the customers.
(Be careful how you drink your coffee...)
I arrived right at noon, in time for lunch. There were 2 maids working the floor, a third behind the bar, and 1 male chef working the kitchen. While I was there, the customers consisted of 8 men, ranging from off-duty salarymen to a couple street rats. Most seemed to be regulars that the maids greeted by name. The staff do use the standard "welcome master" greetings when you arrive, and "the master is leaving" as they bow you out. They also draw the picture of your choice on the food in catsup, and on the drinks either in honey or chocolate syrup.
There's no table charge, and the food prices are fairly reasonable. I decided to go with the omelet rice and "choco latte", for 1440 yen total. Other menu items include omelet soba (soba noodles with an omelet on top) and the standard curry and snack items in the 400-900 yen range. Of course, there's soft drinks around 500 yen and mixed drinks and beer for 500 to 700 yen. And sponge cake desserts for 500-800 yen. My chocolate latte came out first in a small cup with lots of foam on top. My maid asked what I wanted drawn on it and I figured that a cat would be the easiest thing to go with. From this point, off and on, both maids came over to ask why I was there, to talk about the otaku map and various Akiba maid cafes, and about anime and manga in general. A neighboring customer ordered a foamed hot tea, and got Korosuke drawn on it in honey. After about 20 more minutes, my omelet rice arrived and I decided to get Korosuke as well, while learning two things - 1) that Korosuke was my maid's favorite thing to draw, and 2) that he's a character from a series by the creator of Doraemon. Both the hot coffee and the omelet rice were good. The rice had a good mix of vegetables, chunks of chicken and spices, although it could have used a little more salt. At least the serving size was big.
They have a points card. 1000 yen per point. The only way to get a maid photo is to get 20 points on the card. Unless you're female, in which case you can get the special 900 yen set that includes a dessert, the option to put on a maid dress, and the photo.
(A flower arrangement created by a customer for Honey Honey.)
The maids didn't speak English and the menu was only in Japanese (although all of the items are accompanied by pictures). The maids also didn't comment on other gaijin visitors so I assume that they don't have much in the way of tourist traffic. I hope that changes, though, because I enjoyed myself there and they deserve more customers.
Name: Honey Honey
Location: South of Yokohama station about 4 blocks, on the second floor above the Lawson's. From the station west exit, head south and try to stay near the tracks until you get to the river. Follow the river 100 meters east then head south another 4 blocks. Just past the first major street bridge, turn right, go down one block, turn left and it'll be on your left.
Cover: No cover.
Food: Standard curries, omelet rice and an omelet soba for around 900 yen; snacks for 400 yen. Various dessert cakes for 500-800 yen. Soft drinks for 480-560 yen, and mixed drinks and beer for 500-700 yen.
"Love": Standard "welcome" and "take care" greetings, writing on the food and drinks. Maid hand-stirs the coffee for you.
Outfits: Black dress with white blouse, apron and frill cap.
Photos: Maid photos only available if you fill the points card.
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: Basically, one of the few maid-themed cafe/bars in Yokohama.
Recommendation: So much depends on having the ability to carry on conversations in Japanese. If you can, then this place is a blast to hang out, and the maids like to stop and chat with everyone. If not, then you can at least come here for the food, which is also good and not all that expensive. Recommended.