Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review: Seiyu no Tamago

Seiyu no Tamago translates directly as "Voice Actor/Actress Egg". This doesn't come across as well in English, so I'll refer to it here as "Tamago" for the review.

Tamago is just outside the regular Akiba district, on the east side of Showa Douri. To find it from inside the JR Akihabara station, follow the signs for the Showa Douri exit, keep going straight to the street light, cross Showa Douri, and follow along the train tracks on the right side for about a block. Tamago will be on the right side of the street, on the second floor.

Unlike most maid cafes, Tamago embraces the modern elements of concrete and glass. There's no paneling on the walls, and the entire space has the feeling of being in a small warehouse. The room is maybe 20' x 80', with smoking and nonsmoking areas split up on opposite sides of the bar. Mostly, it's counter seating at the bar, for 10 people, and another counter row closer to the front window for another 5-6 people. There were 8 people while I was there, 3 women and 5 salarymen. The only posters or wall hangings consisted of ads for a tie-up event with Yaen Meikyu (the vampire bar), although none of the Tamago staff had been to Yaen yet.

There's a small space on the nonsmoking side of the bar that is glassed off and could be used as a sound room, I guess, although it seems to be set up more as an office. So, I'm not sure where the "voice actress" part comes in. None of the staff did any singing or acting while I was there, and other than for the glassed-off room, there's no space for a separate stage. Actually, the guy sitting next to me had come to Tamago 5 times before, and he commented that he'd never seen the room with the curtains open before, so it doesn't appear to be part of the regular bar space either.

The staff is very friendly and attentive, stopping to talk with the customers between mixing drink orders. My maid spent quite a while mixing up one drink, switching between sampling the mix and reading the recipe book. She looked very serious about getting the drink right, but had no idea what the final result was supposed to be. The costumes consist of a yellow vest jacket with separate collar piece, white skirt and stockings, and the yellow winged cloth "tiara". The jackets have little white angel wings on the back.

Maid photos are not listed on the menu and no one asked for one while I was there. You can get a maid photo if you fill up several of the points cards. It's 1500 yen per point, and 15 points per card. If you fill up enough cards, you can get a photo with the entire staff. Otherwise, just filling up one card will give you a free menu item. There's a small goods stand near the door, and you can get laminated cards or small posters of the maids, and they also have CDs of the maids performing a "voice drama" for 1500 yen.

You may have picked up by now that Tamago is a bar and not a cafe. The emphasis is on mixed drinks (800 yen) and beer (700 yen). Soft drinks are 500 to 600 yen. There's a limited food menu, mostly snacks for 300 to 500 yen. The really interesting item is the "Tamago Kake Gohan". This is a bowl of rice with some shaved dried fish and a raw egg on top, for 800 yen. You can then select from 21 different flavors of soy sauce, and another 21 toppings. The egg gets stirred in with the rice, and there you have it. I tried ordering the Tamago Kake Gohan, but was told a few minutes later that the rice wasn't ready this early in the evening yet. So I settled for a hot sandwich and an ice coffee.

The coffee came out first, in a tall glass filled with ice. The coffee was good and strong right at the beginning but quickly became watered down. The sandwich was two triangles of bread with the crusts removed and the edges crimped down to create bread pockets, with slices of ham and melted cheese inside. Good, but the serving size was too small for the 800 yen price tag. There's also a table charge of 500 yen for an hour, so with the coffee and the sandwich, the meal came to 1900 yen ($20). Kind of on the pricey side.

(Yes, I'm a fan.)

I was able to strike up a conversation with the guy next to me and one of the maids, and that caused the time to go by very quickly. As I mentioned, the staff are friendly and willing to talk. The other customer suggested various other cafes to visit, with a recommendation to go to Little BSD when they have their "newtype" event. I'll hold off on talking about that until later. There was also a suggestion to go to 1 of several different places the following night (July 7), which is the Japanese holiday Tanabata, where the maids dress up in kimono. St. Grace Court was recommended highly for this.

Over all, I had fun, but it was mostly because I could carry on conversations in Japanese. None of the staff seemed to speak English, and the menus and rules cards were all in Japanese. There are events at different times so check the website in advance. Otherwise, if you are just looking for a bar to sit and drink quietly, you may want to find one without the table charge and with English-speaking staff.

Name: Seiyu no Tamago
Location: From inside the JR Akihabara station, follow the signs for the Showa Douri exit and keep going straight to the street light. Cross Showa Douri, and follow along the train tracks on the right side for about a block. Tamago will be on the right side of the street, on the second floor.
Price: Moderate high.
Cover: 500 yen lets you stay 1 hour.
Food: Tamago is a bar with some snacks in the 300-500 yen range; mixed drinks for 800; beer for 700; a small ham and cheese sandwich for 800 yen; and a rice bowl with a raw egg for 800 yen.
"Love": No love.
Outfits: Yellow vest-jackets with a separate yellow collar and "tiara", white skirt and stockings, and small white angel's wings on the back of the jacket.
Photos: Available if you fill the points cards. (1500 yen per point, 15 points per card).
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: Maids as voice over actresses, wearing very cute pop idol costumes as angels.
Recommendation: If you're looking for a quiet bar on the outer east side of Akihabara, Tamago is a nice , friendly place to hang out. And, if you go on a hot summer day, they may even give you a free fan.

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