In the almost 20 years since the first Pokémon title was released for Nintendo’s Game Boy, the franchise has grown to include toys, anime, and even clothing. But while we’ve played, watched, and worn Pokémon, earlier this month we found out we’d be getting a chance to eat it as well, when we heard about a Pokémon restaurant opening in downtown Tokyo.
Curious to see if the most famous Pocket Monster tastes as good as he looks, we paid a visit to the Pikachu Cafe to see for ourselves.
To give you an idea of the sort of prestige Pokémon commands, the Pikachu Cafe isn’t tucked into some back alley behind an electronics shop. Instead, it’s located in Roppongi Hills, one of the most fashionable entertainment complexes in Tokyo.
You’ll find the restaurant on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower. The drawback is that getting there involves buying a ticket for the observation deck, which runs 1,500 yen (US $14.85) for adults, 1,000 yen ($9.86) for high school and college students, and 500 yen ($4.93) for children over four. On the upside, the panoramic views of the city are fantastic.
Aside from the cafe, there’s also an exhibition going on with artwork related to the newest Pokémon movie, plus images of the characters plastered all over the walls.
It’s a good thing there’s so much to stare at, too, since when we showed up the cafe was packed. We asked how long the wait for a table would be, and were told 90 minutes, making us wonder for a second if we were lining up for lunch or a roller coaster ride at a theme park.
Still, we’d come all the way here, and we weren’t turning back now, and the long wait didn’t seem to put a damper on the mood of the other Pokémon fans in line with us, either. To kill time, we looked over the menu an employee had handed us. Calculating how much hungrier we’d be in an hour and a half, we decided to pass on the Poké Ball hayashi rice omelet and Pikachu pancakes, and instead order the more filling fare of a Pikachu teriyaki burger, Pikachu curry, and a Pikachu one million-volt parfait.
▼ As our stomachs continued to growl, even the inflatable Pikachu hanging from the ceiling started to look tasty.
▼ Customers purchase tickets for their food from a vending machine, then hand the slip to the staff.
Once we finally got a seat, the waiting still wasn’t over, as the order backlog meant our first dish, the Pikachu burger, took another 30 minutes to arrive.
With a loveable face like that, though, it was hard to get upset about the slow service. Here at RokcetNews24, we’ve enjoyed our share of humongous burgers, but this might be the cutest one we’ve ever had the pleasure to dine on.
▼ We’re still gonna eat him, though.
Inside the bun, things aren’t quite as unique. There’s lettuce and tomato, and that’s about it. We’d have preferred a more flavorful teriyaki sauce, but the bun was nice and fluffy, and the patty was surprisingly thick for what’s ostensibly a burger for kids.
Likewise, the Pikachu curry is seasoned more for children than adult spice fiends, as it’s mild and has a smooth consistency to its roux.
▼ Pikachu helps you trick your kids into eating vegetables by cutting them into star shapes.
▼ Turmeric gives Pikachu his trademark golden color.
▼ Whether he’s winking or become horribly disfigured depends on just how morbid your sense of humor is.
Having finished our entrées, it was time for dessert.
Despite the name, the one-million volt parfait doesn’t have an electrical current running through it, nor does it contain a hidden dash of Tabasco sauce, scoop of Pop Rocks candy, or any other mouth-tingling stimulants. The mango pudding that forms Pikachu’s head is actually the most exotic ingredient, and it’s supplemented with strawberry jam, whipped cream, fruit, and, like all proper Japanese parfaits, corn flakes.
Lack of inventiveness aside, this is still a genuine parfait. If someone can’t enjoy a perfectly serviceable dessert that’s been arranged in such an adorable way, we’re guessing the dark void of his joyless soul would react violently with the atmosphere of light-hearted whimsy produced by a Pokémon-themed restaurant, instantly creating a force field from the contrasting energies that would prevent him from entering the establishment in the first place.
If all of this has you intrigued, be advised that waiting until the hype has died down isn’t an option, as the Pikachu Cafe will only be open until August 31. So strap on a comfortable pair of shoes and charge up your 3DS, because fighting the crowds and standing in line is part of the cost of trying these adorable Poké foods.
Pikachu Cafe / ピカチュウカフェ
Address: Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-10-1, Roppongi Hills Observation Deck Tokyo City View
Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
[ Read in Japanese ]