Fancy being waited on hand and foot?
PETALING JAYA, June 1 — “Welcome home, Master” coos a cute, girly waitress in a pink and white ruffled maid costume. With her coloured tresses and contact lenses which draw attention to her already huge anime character-like eyes, I can see why any hot-blooded young otaku (lover of anime, manga and video games) would visit a maid cafe.
Maid cafes are abundant in Japan, where anime and manga hail from. What exactly is a maid cafe? A maid cafe is where young kawaii (cute in Japanese) girls dress up in costumes to wait on customers in themed restaurants. But there’s more to it than that.
The maids “serve the master” by spoon-feeding, “signing a special message” on the customer’s omu rice (Japanese omelette rice) using ketchup, decorate Polaroids of the customers taken together with the maid and other kinds of services. Different maid cafes offer different services and these services are chargeable on top of the dining bill.
Opened last year in January, Tenshi no Cafe claims to be the first maid cafe in Malaysia. Kelvin Fai recently took over the management of the cafe and he explained why it is the first maid cafe in Malaysia.
“Tenshi no Cafe was opened based on a similar concept of maid cafe in Akihabara, Japan. It’s the first maid cafe in Malaysia because we offer the same services like Moe charm, spoonfeeding and playing video games with the maids and butlers,” said the young entrepreneur. Tenshi no Cafe is actually a side business for him; he has a full-time job on top of managing the maid cafe. I was curious about this Moe charm and asked Fai about it.
“You’ll have to see it to understand,” he said. I ordered the omu rice and the adorable bento set and while waiting for the food to arrive, I asked Fai about butlers.
For guys who enjoy serving in maid cafes, they can choose to be butlers. There are two butlers at Tenshi no Cafe, and one of them is actually a female. In the anime and manga world, it is normal for otakus to crossplay. Crossplay is cross-dressing in cosplay. Cosplay stands for costume play, where fans of anime, manga and video games dress up as their favourite characters and there are quite a few cosplay events in Malaysia.
Our drinks arrived shortly and unlike other restaurants where the waiters leave you alone after serving, the maid actually stirs the drink for you if you want. That’s not all! There were more surprises to come later on when my food arrived.
“Would you like to do the Moe charm with me?” asked a maid sweetly. You can’t help but say yes.
“First, you make a sign like this,” said Kurumi, forming her hands into a heart shape. Another maid with feline characteristics, Mirai does the same thing, prompting me to mimic them. “Then you move your hands to the left and say ‘Moe!’ Next, to the right ‘Moe!’ and then you put your hands over your food and say ‘Kyun!’“ I followed the gestures, deeply amused by the whole thing.
“Why must we do the Moe charm?” I asked Kurumi. She said it is a charm that makes the food taste better.
My order of omu rice came afterwards and the maid with cat ears, Mirai, asked what I would like to be drawn or written on my omu rice. I couldn’t decide.
“Do you like cats?” asked Mirai.
“Yeah, they’re cute. I guess a cat would be great,” I said, anticipating how my omu rice would turn out.
Within a few seconds, she had drawn an adorable cat face on my omu rice.
“Would you like me to write a special message?” she asked.
Since I was new to this thing and I didn’t know what kind of message to have on top of my meal I simply suggested that she write Tenshi no Cafe. Soon my omu rice had a feline face and Tenshi no Cafe written on top in ketchup.
I turned to Fai and asked him whether his customers are mostly fans of anime and manga or do curious passers-by actually come in to dine here.
“A lot of our customers are anime and manga fans but there are also curious passers-by who try out Tenshi Cafe as well. They might find the idea novel and usually their reaction is that they find the maids cute and the whole idea interesting.”
“Our regular customers like to come to Tenshi no Cafe because it offers the same kind of maid cafe experience as Akihabara. For them it is a fantasy come true, to enjoy the company of the maids and butlers and experience what an authentic maid cafe offers.”
When I first saw the prices for the services, I thought they were expensive. But then, it is still cheaper than flying to Japan to get the maid cafe experience. Tenshi no Cafe’s maids are trained by their Japanese counterparts so they actually know their stuff. So what makes a good maid or butler?
“First of all, they must look presentable and they have to be daring. Maids and butlers should not be afraid to play games with customers, socialise with people and be friendly to anyone. A good maid or butler should be able to get the customers to participate in a Moe charm without any reservations,” said Fai.
Tenshi no Cafe’s maids and butlers have about three to four types of costumes depending on the occasion. They have special events once every two months.
Most of the patrons of Tenshi no Cafe are young adults and students. Under Fai’s management, he plans to tweak the menu a little and change the prices of the food to be more affordable for students. Currently, anyone who dines at Tenshi no Cafe is eligible for a free membership.
You collect points whenever you dine and upgrade your membership gradually until you reach Super Black membership where you can get up to 50 per cent off for meals and services. Mirai, the bubbly maid, convinced me to sign up for the free Bronze membership. Not only is she childlike and appealing, her enthusiasm is infectious.
“Take a picture with me! Then I will decorate the Polaroid for you,” she persisted in her charming way. By the way, taking photographs of the maids are not permitted. You have to pay a small fee to have your photographs taken with them.
I politely declined having my Polaroid taken and applied for my membership instead. While waiting for Mirai to process the application and ring up my bill, Kurumi came up to the table to talk to me. In maid cafes, you will never feel bored or lonely because the maids would come and talk to you.
It does not have to be about anime or manga. It can be about food, fashion or anything under the sun. Never did I once take out my smartphone to check for messages or social media updates at Tenshi no Cafe as I normally would if I dined alone. The maids and butlers at Tenshi no Cafe will keep you occupied and you don’t have to pay to have interesting conversations.
I may not be an otaku but visiting a maid cafe is a fun experience. Throw away any preconceived ideas and visit one today. Who knows, you may become a fan.
* Tenshi no Café is at LG18, North Circle, e@Curve, Mutiara Damansara, Jalan PJU 7/3, Petaling Jaya.
Opening Hours: 10.30am to 10.30pm
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