Licking Pikachu in Shibuya

By Phoebe Amoroso

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — If you have ever wanted to a lick a Pikachu, I can confirm that he/she/ [insert your preferred gender here] tastes of mango. Yes, that’s right. If your childhood dreams of catching them all actually involved eating them all, you now can. Except, by all Pokémon, I actually mean mainly Pikachu.

Pokémon, which still retains huge popularity in Japan, has currently invaded The Guest Cafe and Diner on the seventh floor of Parco department store, Shibuya, Tokyo.

Promoting the re-release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire for the Nintendo 3DS in November, the walls of the cafe are bedecked with two color-coordinated Pikachu, who appear overjoyed with their cafe experience, probably because one is tucking into a dessert that is not actually available on the menu.

Entry is by a ticketing system and guests can stay at their table for one hour. The simple menu consists of a few savory and sweet options, ranging from Pikachu burgers and spaghetti to Pikachu shaved ice and pancakes. And, of course, there is a shop packed full of merchandise, as well as various vending machines loitering just by the exit in order to gobble up your ¥100 coins.

I arrived on a Tuesday lunchtime, ready for some Poké-fun and food. Attendance at the cafe requires nothing but a relaxed attitude towards paying a price for novelty and a nonchalance towards the exact ingredients of your food. Dressing up is not compulsory; I may take things too seriously.

As a child, I was Poké-obsessed to the point that I may have learned all the words to the first soundtrack and had an imaginary Vulpix that followed me around for several years. So, despite all the new and alien-looking Pokémon (the first 151 were the best – don’t argue), visiting the cafe was quite a nostalgic experience. I was a Pokémon Master once more.

This excitement was probably heightened by a lot of anticipation. A three-hour wait and a ticket number of 99 forced us to lunch elsewhere and return later (we hadn’t brought our Nintendo 3DS’ like the most committed in the queue). On arriving back, we had to join another queue that seemed to have no relationship to the number on our tickets.

Eventually, we were welcomed inside and immediately ushered towards a carefully set up photo backdrop and – to my delight – even more things for dressing up. Just like some of the waiters and waitresses who were donning Pikachu ears and tails, we could also become shockingly yellow.

It was obvious from the rest of the interior that this was a borrowed space – the diner-style tables and chairs were a far cry from the cute and quaint aesthetics portrayed in the brightly colored posters. But they had made an effort with the decoration – Pikachu, sporting in a variety of costumes, were placed around the room, as were logs inexplicably growing Pokéball mushrooms. Who would have thought that you could find magic mushrooms in a place like this?

Our orders had been taken in advance and no further ordering was allowed at the table. My fellow Pokémon trainer took a ginger ale (¥780) that came with an iced mango Pikachu and some electric shock candy, which, when added popped out of his glass and hit him the face. Pikachu 1, Human 0.

I took the Pikachu choux cream (¥1,280) and tried to not think about the variety of colors that lined my plate. It took a shocking half an hour to arrive, which probably contributed to the three-hour queue and the alarming amount of empty tables in the cafe. However, when it did arrive, it came in the world’s largest Pokéball and a Poké-cup pouring out dry ice. Very spectacular, but perhaps one of the strangest gimmicks I’ve come across.

The fun didn’t stop there though. With the cover and dry ice removed, I was given a chocolate pen to decorate my crepe. I wrote a shaky daisuki (I love it!) that delighted the waiter.

As for the Pikachu on my plate, he was a kind of mild mango mousse on top of some underwhelming choux cream, which was vastly improved by the fresh fruit. Let’s not talk about the candyfloss and icing concoction that represented a very sickly Pokéball. The main question is did I enjoy biting a Pokéball in half or chopping off Pikachu’s ear? Oh, you bet I did. Did eating random, sugary, colorful items add to the nostalgic experience? Yes, again!

If there is a sliver of a Pokémon fan within you – if you remember the joy of how age ten you could wander the countryside and capture wild creatures, before using them to beat up other kids – then you should probably get yourself to the cafe before it shuts in February. Don’t worry if there is no-one to go with you – lone diners are welcome and you’ll be allocated a Pikachu companion to sit with you.

And, finally, if you want to do things in style, a custom Pokéball bra can be obtained from SceenShoes on Etsy.

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