Want to eat your dinner surrounded by gigantic, kaleidoscopic mushrooms that are protruding through the restaurant? Then make sure to head down to Harajuku, Tokyo, for the most unique dining experience at Kawaii Monster Café.
It was a spontaneous encounter I had with the café, for I was just walking down one of the main streets in Harajuku before my return flight when I saw a brightly coloured sign reading “Kawaii Monster Café”. Like a moth to a flame I followed the sign up the escalator to the doors of the café. However, before being allowed in I had to choose a room to dine in. Yes, this café is crazy from the get-go. The choices were:
Each room had a still image, portrayed on four TV monitors at the counter in front of the café. In a game show fashion I hit the red button next to the Mushroom Disco and was then led into a world that even Lewis Carrol would have difficulty conjuring.
Bright colours flooded into my iris as I edged deeper into this mad hatter universe. Monster Café has been created due to the intense craze for all things “Kawaii” (cute). Cute was definitely a good word to use preceded by crazy, omg and wtf!
A gigantic cake shaped Merry-go-round took star position in the centre of the café with adorable pony’s galloping in circles. The centre piece is jaw dropping and is more than surprising to find in a dining establishment. The Merry-go-round also acts as a divide between the themed areas as the café wants your repeat custom they don’t want to spoil the excitement that each area has to offer.
Loitering next to the gigantic cake Merry-go-round was a ‘Monster Girl’. Nope, I’m not being derogatory but this is the name of the crazily dressed women who work at the café. Dressed like a futuristic punk, the girl was striking and clearly enjoyed her alter-ego. The ‘Monster Girls’ are there to promote the kawaii brand and excite the diners who can chat and take photos with them.
Before I had even sat down this place had supplied everything that I wanted Tokyo to be as it was weird, stylish and wacky at insane levels.
Entering into the Mushroom Disco I was surrounded by paint splattered mushrooms and luscious red lips that were mounted to the wall. Nothing made sense and it didn’t have to. The stalks of the mushrooms were unruly and had been sculpted into tentacle expressions that Ursula herself would admire. Strange, drooping blossoms contoured around the lighting allowing for bursts of colour to shine through.
My waiter, dressed completely normally, handed me a birthday cake. I was confused as it certainly wasn’t my birthday. Actually, the menu is a plastic cake with a touchscreen that allows you to browse the foodstuffs on offer. It was a quirky idea but the touchscreen was a tad clunky for the gizmo capital of the world.
The menu has some strangely normal food like salad but then it cranks up the bizarre with the next swipe on the touchscreen. Rainbow pasta, chocolate chicken mole amore and a poison cake all feature on this colour intensive menu.
As I had a flight to catch in less than four hours I decided to grab something small and cheap (the menu is quite expensive). I opted for popcorn chicken that was presented on an artist’s palette. In each divide on the palette was a unique and colourful sauce. Wasabi was green, tomato was red, cheese was orange and I have no recollection about the blue sauce! Using my chopsticks to dip my food into the ‘paint’ was fun and it allowed me to well and truly play with my food (sorry mum). The food was decent but nothing special, but the idea and its plating more than made amends.
Before ordering, the waiter asked where I was from. He wanted to know so that the café could give me a gift later. Well, after eating the waiter came over with a pair of colourful chopsticks for me to take home and they were packaged in the cafes name and colours but with the addition of a British flag. The café get 100 points for making its customers feel special.
From where I was sitting I could see another area where baby’s milk bottles acted as chandeliers. Eager to explore more I nipped to the toilet so that I could have a nosy on my way to the facilities. I walked through another area that I believe was the bar. It wasn’t as outrageous as my mushroom kingdom, which I had just jumped out of Mario style. The toilets were grand though. Extremely colourful with a colossal mirror that bounced off the avant-garde lighting fixture.
Returning back to my seat to settle the bill I was provided a ‘Fall in the Stomach Monster Card’; a confusing name for a loyalty card. If you visit all four areas on different sittings you upgrade your card earning more and more rewards. It’s a great idea and I still keep my hot pink card in my wallet.
The Kawaii Monster Café was the perfect Japanese send off. It was quirky and that was perfect.
A 500 Yen charge is applicable to the first visit that is added on to any food order. If you return showing your Monster Card this fee is waived. This does make the café costly but for a psychedelic experience like no other it is a fee worth paying.
If you like what you see, follow me on Instagram: Arik_Dane