Akihabara has many more maid cafés than you’d expect. Now that I finally have someone to go with, I figure I might as well give a short review of each. This entry, like a few others I’ve posted, will be added to over time.
Maidreamin: This is the largest and most visible chain of maid cafés in Japan, with locations in the Core Three cities of Honshu: twelve in Tokyo (seven of which are in Akihabara), two in Nagoya, and two in Osaka. They have their own original music, a common maid uniform, and a recognizable logo. My friend with whom I go to maid cafés had a friend in Tokyo, and it was his turn to decide, so we went to the most-popular chain for his friend’s sake. Naturally, most-popular also means most-expensive; the menu’s prices were really high. The rules were somewhat different here: the maid we spoke to outside only directed us upstairs, rather than becoming our maid. There was a 500円 table charge, plus each of us was required to choose one food item and one drink (per hour, it said, but they didn’t seem to be timing us). I didn’t see a 食べ放題・飲み放題 option. My companions each got the deluxe package, which included food, drink, dessert, a photo, a stage song and dance, a glow stick to wave during the show, and a maid keychain — all for only 4800円.
The interesting thing is that if no one pays for a song and dance, it doesn’t happen, while in our case, everyone present got to see two. They also brought around a kuji: for 300円, you could win one of a handful of items (both of my friends drew lighters). It’s definitely a professional place, but its major drawback is the cost: I went cheap, ordering a tiny dish of chips with an insufficient amount of salsa and a draft beer, and still spent over 1600円 (including the table charge).
魔法メイド学園アルティマ: “Magic Maid Academy Altima” is a pretty lofty name for this place. I chose it after meeting a cute girl busking for it one night; she gave me her name and when she worked. When we went back a few days later and asked about her, we were told that girl had actually quit not long before and had just been helping out the night I met her. The café itself was relatively small, but what it mostly lacked was charm. The maids were more casual and less interesting, making the place feel more like an overpriced restaurant. We finished our thirty minutes and bade farewell, declining even a photo.
Queen’s Court: My first-ever maid café, and a decent start. (A full account is available here.) The girls were cute and the décor was quaint. Rather than chairs and tables, it had a bar-style counter (with a smaller second one in case they got busy). There’s also a vague mystical aspect in that menu items are renamed with a fantasy theme (Witch Cola, for example) and food requires a “spell” to be cast. Pros: If you order food, your chosen maid makes it for you in front of everyone. Cons: Entry requires a membership card (which requires a one-time fee of 300円). Customers are encouraged to buy drinks for the girls or otherwise spend money to gain their favor.
The Basics: The average maid café has a menu of food, most of which is customizable (writing the customer’s name on it in ketchup is common), bought a la carte. The drink menu has both soft drinks and alcohol; you generally pick one type of beverage and pay for a set time period for unlimited drinks of that type. Everything costs, from a card game with a maid to a photo at the end. Maids seem to work on commission, meaning if you choose a maid who’s outside busking, she’s your maid for the duration.