I knew that the Kawaii Monster Cafe was, well, a cafe. From the decor to the food, everything is all about the kawaii culture. Pinks clashing with neon greens, red lips on the walls, rainbow spaghetti noodles, a freaking carousel in the shape of a cake whirling around, and dancers dressed up in cute outfits dance on that cake. It’s a definite dinner and a show sort of place.
The place is fun, right in the heart of Harajuku (Tokyo’s notoriously awesome fashion district), and made to entertain. During the daytime, you’ll have a sort of cute, kid friendly atmosphere. I went last year with a bunch of friends. I got the (Non) Drug Cocktail, which comes with test tubes featuring different liquor flavors. My friends got the Colorful Poison Parfait, which is a ton of cake and ice cream towering high inside a glass.
What I didn’t know was that sometimes the cafe becomes a nightclub! Saturday I went to a Tipsy event, a popular girls only party group (i.e. lesbians, bi gals, trans, etc.), with business suits as a theme for the night. The line was long, but it moved smoothly enough that I only stood for a grand total of eight minutes.
Upon entering the now Kawaii Monster Club, the music was pumping and the lights were dimmed low. It was a surreal experience of seeing something that was once so cute it was borderline childish turn into a cool venue to get down and party. Clustered between giant mushrooms and tea cup booths were shadows that once featured loud colors, with people moving about in clothes straight out of fashion magazines, and the animal heads that hung from the ceiling took on a slightly sinister feel. It was, in a word, awesome!
Dancing in the space was a bit tight, since the entrance area serving as the dance floor had the carousel right smack dab in the middle. Nonetheless, people endeavored to keep going, even though it got tough as the night wore on and more people piled in through the front door. The DJ’s kept a constant stream of top hits going, so people felt pumped up all through the night, even if they couldn’t move as much as they wanted. Everybody stopped dancing when the performers came on.
In the day, the cafe is severely brightly lit until the performers get on the carousel to dance. At night, the dancing area remains dark until the performers come onto the “stage” to dance with strobes and spotlights on them.
The performers were definitely the highlight of the night. They were up there about five times, and each time they kept coming back to perform with zeal. I’ll be honest, I really admired how they kept coming back, appeared to have fun, and just kept moving to the beat without hardly slowing down. I wasn’t performing and by the end of the night I was exhausted, but they did their last show with huge smiles as if they weren’t tired at all.
I think if the performers had been half-hearted, the whole rest of the event would’ve been only slightly better than an average night out. See, as much as I loved the atmosphere and the performers, other parts of the night were a bit hit and miss.
Drinks were a big disappointment for me. Even though the main bar was encapsulated with towers of blue columns depicting flowing flowing ice cream coming down from the roof, the drink list itself was surprisingly mundane, with only about seven drinks in total. I suppose I expected something like the (Non) Drug Cocktail I drank last time, but instead I had to choose between Sky Blue or Smirnoff bottles, unless I wanted to do a Jagger shot for the same price as a regular drink (¥700 yen, by the way for all of them). I suppose maybe I was just expecting too much, but it is a shame to have such a cool place with very few drinks with no flare to them at all.
The only “specialty drink” there was a Love Shot. What’s a Love Shot? It’s a container of some alcohol, which can be opened on both top and bottom. Two participants in this (sure to backfire and ruin shirts) experiment try to blow the liquor into the other’s face for them to drink.
I suppose they were going for something risque and sexy, but really it just seemed kind of silly. If there was even one really cool, really expensive signature kind of drink available, I would’ve paid for it just to have the experience. Instead, yay Smirnoff.
In case you’re wondering, yes they did serve some cafe food! A whole big section was marked off for people wanting to eat (with about a half hour time limit to sit). There were only four menu items to choose from, colorful noodles and a Valentine Cake being two of the choices. Since we already drank too much for heavy food to sit comfortably in our stomachs, my friends and I chose the simple “Friedo Potato” (french fry) snack . The interesting thing about it was the sauces: ketchup, mustard, wasabi, cheese, sour cream, and chocolate.
Oddly enough I really liked the wasabi flavor, as it was so mild it just tasted a little spicy. I discovered that I’m definitely not a choco-fry fan, but the other flavors were fine in my opinion. All the same, a bit underwhelming in comparison to the food available in the daylight hours.
I was also bummed out that the ticket entrance price itself was ¥3,700. I was under the impression that if I wore a suit the price would be cheaper, but nope. Only if you called ahead and made a “reservation” did you get money off. The reservation, by the way, was just advance ticketing. Everybody who showed up at the door got that same price, suit or no it didn’t matter. If I’d known that, I would’ve opted out of wearing one entirely.
All in all, I had a fun time, danced and watched some great ladies shake it until dawn. It makes for a great experience, and an interesting compare and contrast from what I knew the Kawaii Monster Cafe to be versus how it is on a Saturday night. The atmosphere and mood, 10 out of 10, definitely great. Everything else, like the drinks and the food, are only maybe 2 out of 10. I would recommend it to least try it once, but every single weekend? Maybe no.
If you know of another cool themed restaurant or venue for a night out, put it in the comments below!