A visit to the Pokémon Café Tokyo
So, you’ve heard the news by now. A Pokémon Café opened up in Tokyo in March 2018, alongside the city’s brand new Pokémon Center DX store.
Now the chances are that nearly two years on, you’re still yet to visit. Besides, only someone as crazy as Braysh Gaming would travel all the way to Japan just to chow down on a Pikachu-shaped pancake. Well, whether you’re planning a Pokémon pilgrimage or just interested in some first-hand experience, here’s our “everything you need to know before you (Pokémon) go” guide to the Pokémon Café Tokyo:
Location, location, location.
Tokyo is now boasting its fourth major Pokémon Center in the form of then new Pokémon Center Shibuya, so you might be wondering why they feel a need to add more? Well, Tokyo is bigger than you might think. The Pokémon Café and adjacent Tokyo DX store, sit a 25-minute metr
o ride from Pokémon Center Shibuya and Pokémon Center Skytree Town. Then, it’s an even further 40-minute ride to the flagship Mega Tokyo store. You could say that they now have all four corners of Tokyo covered!
The Pokémon Café isn’t the easiest to find. Hop off at Nihombashi Station and follow the map down. You’ll soon you see an entrance you can’t miss, next to the entrance for the Takashimaya department store:
Step inside and you’ll find a heavily Pokémon-themed elevator, waiting to take you up to the “lobby” area. This area sits directly between the Pokémon Café and the Pokémon Center DX. This incredible introduction features a now-iconic Snorlax statue displaying the time and date! Not to forget the other mascots for the DX store, Pikachu and Mew, are here too. Selfie time.
Left, or Right?
The Pokémon Café is on the left and the Pokémon Center on the right. If you weren’t quick enough to book your table months in advance via the difficult-to-navigate Japanese website, then you might think your only choice is to head into the Pokémon Center and browse the merchandise – think again.
Around 5pm and on the hour until around 8pm each day, you can join a queue outside the café and add yourself to a waiting list to dine that evening. The places each day are determined by the number of spare seats and cancellations. So, it massively varies and there are no guarantees. Unfortunately, the signage for this was all in Japanese, and I really had no idea what I was lining up for exactly, but I had an idea it could be for chance bookings – and I was right.
No booking? No problem.
I joined the queue at around 4:30pm, noticing that something was due to happen at 5pm on the notice board. I was only behind a party of two people at the time, and soon after a group of four people joined behind me. The queue grew before 5pm, and when it did come, one of the cheery staff members came out to take names. The two people in front of me were able to go in immediately, whereas I (on my own by the way), had to settle for a 6pm slot. It’s also worth noting that the group of four behind me also had a 6pm slot.
I was under the impression that they booked up as much as the café as they could for the rest of the evening, and came back out at the allotted times only if there were more spaces available. I did notice that the sign began to read “Sold Out” across the later times in the evening. The 5pm slot was the first time they came out to check on availability, so I’d imagine this is the best chance at getting a booking.
I had no complaints with waiting an hour. With no reservation, I was more than happy to wait for something like this – besides, an hour flies by when lost in the Pokémon Center DX or playing around on the interactive Pokédex (a must-see and only at the DX and Shibuya stores).
If Heaven was a Pokémon Café.
The time had come, and I was able to join the queue for people who actually had bookings. I couldn’t help but think that some of these people also entering at this time probably went through a lot of effort to book weeks in advanced, and the there’s me who turned up an hour earlier. At the point of entry, you’re given an area and a table number on a token. I was A12, and I think this was part of the “Pikachu” section.
Upon entering, it was all a little bit mad. There are shelves filled with various Pokémon Café merchandise, a Nintendo Switch set up with Let’s Go Pikachu, your favourite Kanto starters sitting across the tables, Gengar smoothies sat up at the bar and Eevee curries leaving the kitchen. It was everything you’d expect a Pokémon Café to be, and more.
I found my small table on the end of a row designed for two people. It came fully equipped with an iPad and Pokémon place mat, and gave me a great view of the café and all of the incredible Pokémon dishes leaving the kitchen. It was a good start.
Despite not really understanding what the waitress was explaining to me in Japanese, the concept was pretty straight forward. Browse through images of all the dishes on the iPad, order what you want, when you want, and pay on the way out. No waiting for service, no waiting for the bill, and as it’s Japan – no tipping. I couldn’t help but think that all restaurants should be as convenient as this.
Pick your Poison-type.
Now it’s decision time – and trust me this is a harder choice than choosing your first Pokémon from Professor Oak. Personally, I wanted to choose something that looked as tasty as it would visually impressive on Instagram. One thing to note here is the price. You might expect this to be mass-exploitation and charge ¥10,000 to those who are desperate for slice of the Pokémon-pie, but you would be pleasantly surprised. Most dishes were around ¥1,500, and drinks were around ¥500. This was more than reasonable and about what you’d expect to pay in any restaurant.
Despite the “Ditto Fruit Tea” or various Flareon, Jolteon and Vaporeon ice cream floats (each coming with their own character-adorning straw), I opted for the “Gengar ‘Confuse Ray’ Grape Smoothie”. It came with a red light shining out from the glass – of which I imagine was the “Confuse Ray” part. It was simply delicious, and even to this day I think about that grape smoothie.
The food was a bit trickier. Sure, I could have had the Pikachu-bum omelette, but I made the choice to get the awesome-looking Umbreon chicken burger. When this thing came out, it was like a work of art had taken place in the kitchen. It looked exactly as it did in the iPad image and almost a shame to eat. Make sure to take plenty of pictures before diving in!
After smooshing down Umbreon’s face into the burger and tartar-esque sauce, it was time to eat. It soon made sense why the mascot for the Pokémon Center next door was a Snorlax – the burger was fantastic – as were the accompanying chips and strange vegetable soup that came with the meal. There was certainly more than enough food here to fill your appetite.
More than you bargained for.
I had finished my food and was thinking about leaving. Foolishly, I forgot that this was a Pokémon Café, and that I was nowhere near done yet whether I liked it or not.
The waitress was over at the next table of eight people, playing a simple game where everyone had a turn on the iPad to pick a Pikachu card and receive a special Pokémon Café souvenir coaster as a prize based on what was underneath the card. I noticed that everyone received the same coaster, and determined that it was essentially an “everyone’s a winner” type of deal. No fuss was made.
Oh boy did I wish I was right. It was my turn. I carefully selected my Pikachu card and chose the Pikachu with the silliest face. The card turned around on the screen and the waitress starting yelling something very loud and very Japanese to the rest of the restaurant. She was then kind enough to turn to me and explain “very rare” as what felt like all of the kitchen staff came out to applaud my astonishing feet of picking a random card.
I expected a ¥10,000 voucher for the Pokémon Center next door, or maybe my meal on the house, but I was awarded a very shiny golden Celebi coaster instead. I think the fuss outweighed the reward somewhat. Will you get the “very rare” coaster when you visit?
Got room for dessert?
I didn’t stop to sample any of the desserts on offer at the café, but again there were plenty to choose
from. These included a “Lapras Parfait”, “Pikachu Mango Pudding” and “Jigglypuff’s Strawberry
Cheesecake”. I was instead treated to final surprise from the Pokémon Café, as a Pikachu dressed as a chef came out to dance for the customers!
It was a great way to end a brilliant meal, and I can’t think of any reason not to visit the Pokémon Café in Tokyo. The bill was paid at the front desk on the way out, and it was more than fulfilled with the experience. A must-visit when in the area.
To see some of this in action, check out our Japan Vlog below which features our time at the Pokémon Café!
Can’t get enough of Pokémon in Japan? Why not check out our article on the best Pokémon card shops in Osaka!