The makers of Final Fantasy are also now the makers of awesome burgers and cake at this Akihabara restaurant and gift shop.
While the development of the Final Fantasy XV video game itself has been met with numerous delays, publisher Square Enix has actually been pretty punctual about side projects related to the upcoming installment of its flagship franchise. Both its web anime series and CG movie were released in a timely manner, and on October 1 Final Fantasy XV served as the debut theme at the grand opening of the Square Enix Cafe in Tokyo’s Akihabara district.
Located on the first floor of the Yodobashi Camera electronics megastore, the cafe is right across the street from the JR Akihabara train station, making it a snap to find. Since the restaurant will change themes periodically to highlight different games or series, its interior isn’t quite as elaborate as the dedicated Final Fantasy XIV eatery that’s also located in Akihabara, but the Square Enix Cafe does have more game-specific decorations than Artnia, the cafe located near Square Enix’s headquarters across town in Shinjuku.
Mounted on the walls are monitors looping footage of the game, and flowing out of the speakers are selections from its soundtrack. Posters are hung about the room, and there’s even artwork decorating the floor and a detailed statuette of Titan, one of Final Fantasy’s traditional summon beasts.
There’re also two gift shop sections, stocked with all sorts of plushies, key chains, and other trinkets not just for Final Fantasy XV, but the series as a whole. You’ll even find a couple of goodies from Dragon Quest, Square Enix’s other immensely popular and long-running role-playing game franchise.
▼ Three Final Fantasy stars, only one smile.
▼ It’s hard to believe loveable Moogle almost wasn’t going to be a part of Final Fantasy XV.
▼ Your wardrobe isn’t really complete without a Chocobo T-shirt.
And if your fondness for Japanese RPGs extends to a liking of Japanese things in general, there are also folding fans and traditional furoshiki cloths with subtle nods to Final Fantasy lore.
But while there’s plenty of awesome stuff to see and buy, this is first and foremost a restaurant, so after gawking at our surroundings for a while, it was time to order some food and drinks. There’s a 500-yen (US$4.85) per-person cover charge, but that gets you a starter drink, with selections including even alcoholic beverages such as cocktails and draft beer.
While a server will take your first drink order, after that you can request additional items by using the tablet that’s provided for each table.
In celebration of Final Fantasy XV, the Square Enix Cafe has recreated a selection of the edible items that appear in the game, each of which is associated with a specific character. Since cake is always a good idea, we decided to try the 600-yen banana pound cake, which was just about exact in appearance to the digital version whipped up by bespectacled cooking enthusiast Ignis in the game’s promo videos. While it looked a little plain, the cake was moist and flavorful, and the sort of thing we’d be happy to regularly eat if they sold it at our neighborhood bakery.
But you can’t make a whole meal out of sweets, because then you’d have no room for hamburgers, and the Square Enix Cafe makes a fantastic one.
At 1,350 yen, the avocado burger is a bit on the pricey side, but it’s made with premium Joshu beef from Gunma Prefecture. You also get tomato, grilled onions, and a Caesar salad dressing-like sauce, which is a surprisingly delicious choice of condiment for a burger.
Square Enix is known for a putting plenty of polish on its products visuals, and replaces French fries with the stylish substitute of half a baked potato, slathered with cheese, as the burger’s accompaniment.
Another attractive carnivorous option is the 1,350-yen roast beef sandwich. Like the burger, it comes with a metallic arrow holding it together.
Keeping the whole thing moist and mouth-watering is a side of sweet barbecue sauce, which you can pour into the sandwich or use as a dipping sauce if you feel like eating the meat with a fork or adding some extra zest to your cheese potato.
Speaking of dipping, since we’d finished all our meat, we figured we’d earned another dessert, so we selected the 850-yen “special dip pancakes,” which come with whipped cream, maple syrup, strawberry syrup, and anko sweet beans. There were all so tasty that we completely forgot about the pats of butter on the plate until we’d finished all of the pancakes.
As mentioned above, the Square Enix Cafe has an extensive drink menu, with soft drinks, cocktails, beer, and even whiskey. While your first, included-in-the-over-charge drink doesn’t come with one, subsequent orders get you a special coaster featuring one of Final Fantasy XV’s four main adventurers, represented in old-school bitmap form.
▼ The character you get is random, but we lucked out and scored leading man Noctis.
Seating at the Square Enix Cafe is done in pre-set time blocks, each lasting for 90 minutes. As we paid our check, we found out that the food we’d ordered had earned us a collection of luncheon mats (one featuring Ignis for the cake, and three with a Yoshitaka Amano promotional painting for the sandwiches and pancakes).
Technically, reservations are required to dine at the Square Enix Cafe (they can be made online here), and on our visit, every seat was occupied (anyone can browse and make purchases at the gift shop, though). However, in the event of no-shows, lucky fans can get a table without a reservation, although you’ll want to line up in advance, and also double-check with the staff at the entrance if you’re trying this approach. Certain late night-time blocks may also be opened up on a first-come, first-seated basis, with such announcements made on the restaurant’s website. There’s also a take-out counter set to open soon, although with a very limited menu.
Trust us, though, those sandwiches are totally worth making a reservation for.
Square Enix Cafe / スクウェア・エニックス カフェ
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Hanaoka-cho 1-1, Yodobashi Akiba 1st floor
東京都千代田区神田花岡町1-1 ヨドバシAkiba 1階
Open: 9 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he has a diet rich in Final Fantasy-related foods.