Attending comic conventions aren’t new to me. For nearly two decades I’ve been both an attendee and exhibitor in San Diego as well as around the United States. I know the difference between Marvel and DC characters and on geekier level, pre- and post- Crisis continuity. But when confronted with anything anime-related, it’s all Greek to me.
So it’s no surprise that I usually dismiss Anime Conji, a annual convention dedicated to all things anime (held April 12-14 at the Town & Country Resort this year). But I quickly changed my tune when I saw a maid cafe as one of the side events.
An extra $13 allows you entry to Mochi Cafe. (Regular admission to Anime Conji was $25 for one day and $45 for all three days.) Mochi Cafe is a take on the traditional maid cafes seen in Akihabara, Japan, where patrons are waited on hand and foot by cosplayers. Women are usually dressed up as French maids — and if you’re thinking this is all just for the men, there are also butler cafes with, you guessed it, men dressed up as butlers. So in theory, there’s essentially something for everyone.
The menu consists of your choice of drink (water, black or green tea and lemonade), one of two entrees (chicken katsu bowl or vegetable yakisoba) and a cupcake personally designed by your maid or butler.
Service lasts for approximately an hour, then they rush in another group of anime-loving attendees. Halfway through the service it appeared that something was off. Where was the food? The group at my table had already played three board games and were starting a round of Apples to Apples. The catered food provided by an outside vendor was late. What’s a maid to do? Serve dessert first of course!
Instead of a cupcake as indicated on the menu, everyone received a slice of cheesecake. Every slice was hand-decorated by the maid/butler servicing your table. Each one was decorated with pieces of Kit Kat, Pocky and syrup; you could also add M&Ms if desired.
With sugar surging through my blood waiting for the main entree to arrive, I was amused with spurts of sporadic dancing and tamborines/crystal microphones being handed out to willing participants if they weren’t already clapping.
The entrees eventually arrived. Servers busily created the bowls behind the counter. The chicken katsu was mediocre with almost no seasoning. Even the generous pour of soy sauce by the attending maid didn’t help out and left me a tad uncomfortable as she hovered over my bowl. But she (as well as everyone else) was helpful and very sweet wanting to make my meal as pleasant as possible.
Looking back on Mochi Cafe, my illusions of quality meals made on the premises was asking for too much. It seemed like many people were going for the “maid cafe experience” and not the food. It’s a unique, if not overwhelming, meal that works all of your senses. Mochi Cafe has a few events throughout the year in San Diego as well as Los Angeles; be sure to check out their website.
Some stray observations:
- Out of the six people at my table, only two of them (one of them me) used chopsticks. With everyone so invested in wanting to experience Japanese culture, it’s weird to see so many requests for a knife and fork.
- Apparently maid cafe = Hello Kitty decor.
- Just how cool are these Finger Tentacles?? No manicure needed!
Check out Abby Denson of City Sweet Tooth’s account of a butler cafe in Shibuya here.