Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: Granvania

I visited Granvania about a year ago. At the time, it was a regular restaurant that took up most of the second floor of a building making up part of the radio land section of Akihabara. No maids, and the cup of coffee I'd gotten was still 600 yen (which is $6 USD for one coffee, no refills). It wasn't a bad place, but being on the high side and not having much else to recommend it I wasn't planning on going back. But, I kept seeing the name on the "moe" and "Akiba guide" maps, and I was wondering why it was being included in with @Home and Mai Dreamin' as a moe spot. Then, when I was talking to a customer at Seiyu no Tamago (Voice Actress Egg), he also mentioned Granvania as a possible maid cafe spot for me to visit.

So, I decided to drop by on my way to work a few nights ago, just to check it out. Looking in through the window, I saw "maids!" Therefore, I made it a point to come back when I had more time for actually sitting down and ordering something.

Granvania was "repurposed" as a maid cafe in 2009, but with a twist. To find it, take the north Electric Town exit from the JR Akihabara station, and face the UDX building. You should see the Gundam Cafe ahead and to your right. Turn left and head towards Chuu-ou Dori. About 50 feet before you get to Chuu-ou, you should see a small doorway leading into the building on your left, mixed in with the little electronics shops. Take the stairs up and you'll find yourself in front of a wooden door to the cafe.

The cafe itself is big and sprawling, able to seat at least 100 people at the old dark wooden tables and counters. There's an European beer garden feel to the place, with the green walls and wooden molding and beams. Signs on the walls advertise food specials and weekly events. For the first half of the week, it was "princess night", when the maids wore princess outfits; the second half was "free-style cosplay". When I arrived, the maids had on big, puffy pink and white dresses, with variations on the tiara theme for headpieces. At the front of the cafe, there are some video games, primarily electronic darts. And, there's various stuffed UFO Catcher dolls and anime figurines all over the place.

Granvania has a full meal menu, with salads, main dishes and desserts. Pricing is in"G"s instead of yen, with entrees like garlic chicken and curry rice for 500-850G. Soft drinks for 500-700 G, and desserts for 480-600 G. Mixed drinks for 400-500 G. And dessert and entree sets (orders include one drink) are around 800 yen. I ordered an ice coffee and a slice of chocolate cake, and my total bill came to only 800 yen. So, $9 USD for the night was really cheap compared to just about everywhere else I've been to over the last year.

There's the standard "welcome home master" and "the master is leaving" chants, and writing on the food in catsup. No added flavor chants. When the coffee arrived I was asked if I wanted cream and sugar, but instead of giving me the little plastic servings, the maid gave me decent sized pitchers of syrup and cream. The coffee was good and strong, and the chocolate cake was a medium-sized slice of sponge cake with frosting in the middle and a thin chocolate shell on top. The cake was also very good, and fancier than what other cafes offer. For 800 yen at Tokyo prices, Granvania was definitely a good value.

There's no maid photos on the menu, and this is where the "twist" comes in. There are two kinds of points cards. The first is a regular card - 1 point per 500 yen, and a full card at 50 points gets you a maid photo. 3 or 5 full cards gets you branded items. The second kind is a members card that you buy for 300 yen. You then get points for completing various missions, where the missions can actually end up costing you points if you're not careful. This is much like a video game, and the prizes for filling up the members cards are much better, including more maid photos and branded goods items.

(Regular points card)

The place was quite busy while I was there, with about 20 people at any one time. The staff don't have time to stand and chat, but they do speak some English and there is an English menu and rules card. The customers were about 5-1 men to women, but a fair number of women were coming in on their own to eat. The food that other people ordered looked pretty good, and since it's not that expensive, I'm tempted to make this one of my regular eating spots.

Simply on a value-for-the-price rating, Granvania gets an A. They also have various anime and game tie-in events during the month, so check the online calendar in advance. Recommended.

Name: Granvania
Location: Take the north Electric Town exit from the JR Akihabara station, and face the UDX building. You should see the Gundam Cafe ahead and to your right. Turn left and head towards Chuu-ou Dori. About 50 feet before you get to Chuu-ou, you should see a small doorway leading into the building on your left.
Price: Reasonable.
Cover: 300 lets you stay 1 hour after 6 PM.
Food: A wide range of entrees, salads, desserts and drinks. In general, things are in the 400-800 yen range across the board.
"Love": Writing on the food in catsup, "welcome home master" and "the master is leaving" chants.
Outfits: The website shows a black dress over a white blouse, but various cosplay nights means that there's no consistent outfit all the time.
Photos: Only if you fill up the points cards.
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: A regular restaurant-style menu, electronics darts games, and video game-style "missions" for those that have the members card.
Recommendation: The food's good, the prices are reasonable, and the "missions" might be fun. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Curtis, how are you? I would like to say something about the Granvania. I have been there asking for job but they told me that they don't accept foreigners, only Japanese girls, "because it is for otaku people"... ¬¬" So, it's just a tip for those that might come here to know more about the maid cafes, but with the intention of work at one.
    I can't say anything about the food or the service because I stayed there only for 2 min.