Cuteness Overload at Kawaii Monster Cafe
By Eric Burton
I thought I had gotten used to the almost excessive amounts of cuteness in Japan. From purikura photos to idol groups, themed restaurants and everything else in between, this country brought out a weird aspect of my personality that I didn’t know I had. And now, on very rare occasions, I find myself throwing up the peace sign near my face in group photos.
But then I heard about Kawaii Monster Cafe.
Kawaii Monster Cafe, a brainchild of art director Sebastian Masuda, opened in late summer in the cutesy-hip neighborhood of Harajuku. Before making the trip myself, I scoured the website just to see what I was about to get into. Everything—from sides to main courses—was colorful and kawaii. Even dishes like chicken or spaghetti looked more like candy than what they actually were. Was my sweet tooth ready for this?
We went one Sunday around 6:00 pm and were met by a line leading out the entrance and down a stairwell. We thought we’d be in for the long wait, by the line moved quick. Within 15 minutes a host brought us to the entrance. With a genki smile the host said in Japanese, “Prepare to enter the Monster’s mouth! Yum, yum, yum!” I wonder how many times she has to do that each day…
We walked into the monster’s mouth (the entrance), the back of which became double doors; where we were greeted by even more interesting characters. Our host/brief tour guide disappeared while we stared googly-eyed at everything around us. Unicorns and multi-colored sheep. Huge baby bottles hanging from the ceiling. Oversized mushrooms growing up from the ground. And in the center of it all was a huge rotating cake; where we were met by two new guides.
“Hello, Welcome to Kawaii Monster Cafe!” said a girl in a furry rainbow vest with a short rainbow wig to match.
“I’ll take you to your seats.” said a guy in a black tutu and a midriff-revealing top. He tried his best to explain the cafe rules in English and then left us to look through the menu.
Since this was a new and highly conceptual restaurant, I assumed the menu would be very limited. But there was a wide selection of food and drinks. For some reason on that day only signature cocktails could be ordered at the bar (there was an event going on). We settled for draft beers that came in Hub-style beakers, only smaller. And for food? The craziest dessert they had of course! Something called the Colorful Poison Parfait Extreme.
We thought it would take the cooks forever to prepare this elegant monster of a dessert, but in fifteen minutes the waiter served it up. She was barely able to balance the thing on her tray. After grabbing the obligatory Instagram food flick, I took a scoop.
My tastebuds were stimulated in ways I didn’t think possible. So many flavors, textures, sweets, fruits, ice creams, cakes. Each scoop became progressively more sweet. Halfway through, my friend and I were down for the count. No wonder they labeled it “extreme” in all caps.
Of course you can’t exit through the monster’s mouth. So, upon paying the bill we were directed to the rear of the cafe, which led into a gift shop. New guests receive a member’s card which encourages you to dine at the four differently themed sections of the cafe. I’ll probably be bringing friends back so that I can try out the different things in each area.
Things are a bit pricey at Kawaii Monster Care, but keep in mind that you are paying for an experience. And more expensive dishes can probably be shared. It is also cheaper if you come in groups of four or more. During evening hours, groups of less than four pay a cover charge of 1000yen/person. 4+ groups only pay 3000 altogether. Since I’ve only been once I can’t judge how wait times will be. But as always with big groups, reservations are a good idea.
So if you’re looking for something a little offbeat, or want to take visiting friends/relatives to an only-in-Japan experience, fall into the monster’s mouth at Kawaii Monster Cafe.
From Harajuku Station: Take the Omotesando Exit and head downhill on Route 413. At the next major intersection cross the street and make a left on that same street. Cafe will be on the right in the YM Square Building 4F. 6 minutes.
Lunch Time: 11:30-16:30 (Last entry at 15:30)
Dinner Time: 18:00-22:30