Meet your CLASS MAIDS
Cosplay maid cafe return to this year’s Anime Festival Asia with a school concept
By Germaine Lim
September 30, 2010
IF YOU dine at the Moe Moe Kyun Maid Cafe next month, be sure to observe its rules.
No touching of the eight waitresses who will be dressed in Japanese school uniforms.
No personal photography and videography.
Each meal session – tea-time snacks and desserts – is limited to 60 minutes.
Just like going back to school, right?
Which is exactly what Moe Moe Kyun Maid Cafe will be emulating this year – a classroom setting.
The cafe is part of this year’s Anime Festival Asia (AFA), which is into its third year and features Japanese animation and pop culture. The festival will be held from Nov 12 to 14 at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Tickets start from $8 (www.animefestival.asia).
But the rules are there for a reason – to protect the ‘schoolgirls’ from pranksters.
Mr Jim Khor, creator of the Moe Moe Kyun Maid Cafe, told The New Paper: ‘Pretty girls everywhere attract attention. We have these rules in place to make sure that our customers respect our girls and their modesty.’
For those not in the know, Moe Moe Kyun Maid Cafe is based on the popular cosplay restaurants in Japan.
‘Diners did stuff to get attention’
At such eateries, waitresses are dressed in maid costumes and act as servants. They address customers as goshujin-sama and ojou-sama (Japanese for ‘master’ and ‘mistress’ respectively).
There are similar themed cafes in Singapore such as Cosafe Maid Bar & Restaurant at Chijmes and A87 Cafe & Bar on Tanjong Pagar Road.
In its inaugural set-up last year, Moe Moe Kyun Maid Cafe had its waitresses dress as French maids.
This year, however, Mr Khor, 32, decided on a school theme because the humble school uniform has come to ‘symbolise Japanese pop culture’, he said.
Also, one of the most popular anime shows internationally right now is K-On! which is set in a school, Mr Khor added.
The New Paper had a preview of the school-themed Moe Moe Kyun Maid Cafe on Monday.
While most customers who visited the cafe last year observed the rules, three of the ‘maids’ whom The New Paper spoke to recalled an incident involving a group of four mischievous diners.
Polytechnic student Beryl Teo, who takes the name Hitomi-chan, said: ‘They weren’t disrespectful but they did stuff to get our attention.
‘One of them purposely dropped his utensils on the floor repeatedly to get us to pick them up.’
Added the 19-year-old: ‘Another complained that his tea was too bland and wanted me to sweeten it. I guess they were just teasing us.’
Last year, AFA drew 56,000 visitors aged between 18 and 35 years old. Mr Khor did not have figures for cafe patrons, though he said that men made up 60 per cent of his clients, in line with the profile of the festival’s attendees.
He explained: ‘The men who came to the cafe were usually anime lovers familiar with the concept of maid cafes.’
Mr Shawn Chin, festival director of AFA, said: ‘I believe that Japanese pop culture reaches out to the inner child in all of us.
‘It brings us into another world…where imagination takes flight.’
True enough. At the cafe, which seats up to 50, customers are treated like royalty.
The ‘maids’ welcome you in Japanese.
On taking your order, a ‘maid’ pours tea, puts in the required amount of sugar and milk and stirs it at the table before serving you.
She will also use sauces to decorate your food with drawings before serving.
During The New Paper’s experience, Beryl, Wong Qi Qi aka Miyake-chan and Joanne Leo aka Riiyo-chan also broke into a power-up chant.
‘It’s to boost your spirits and brighten your day,’ Qi Qi, a 20-year-old professional blogger, explained.
All three girls were also part of the cafe last year. The ‘maids’ – who will be provided with the costumes – will also interact with customers, though they will not sit with them.
Personal photography is prohibited but patrons can buy Polaroid shots taken with their favourite maids.
Last year, diners paid $25 for a three-course meal which included a soup, a main course and coffee or tea.
Dessert sets, at $15 each, included a cake or salad and a choice of coffee or tea.
Prices of meals for this year have not been confirmed, but the Polaroid shots are $5 each.
Mr Khor admitted that the perception of a maid cafe here is that it is ‘dodgy’.
He added: ‘It also takes two hands to clap. Our girls conduct themselves well. They treat men and women equally.’
The girls were not concerned about being judged.
Polytechnic student, Joanne, 19, said: ‘It’s a job. We’re making someone happy. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. There’s nothing sleazy about it.
‘When we talk to our customers (whom they will address as senpai, which means senior in Japanese). It’s like talking to friends.’
Qi Qi added: ‘You can really see on their faces that they’re very happy when they’re here. That makes our day too.’
Some of those who visited Moe Moe Kyun Maid Cafe last year told The New Paper that they went there because they hadn’t experienced such a concept cafe.
Polytechnic student Vince Ooi had to queue for two hours before getting a seat.
The 21-year-old said: ‘What can be better than having a group of cute girls serving you and calling you master? You really feel like you’ve returned home when they greet you at the door.’
He added: ‘The waitresses made an effort to make small talk and bond with you. Even though it was just for a minute, it made a huge difference.
‘Some restaurants here have been emphasising service. But they still can’t match the kind of attention you get at a maid cafe.’
For undergraduate Darrell Tan, 24, and polytechnic student Kitto Chia, 19, it was about experiencing the concept.
Though prices were higher here compared to other restaurants, ‘the food was nothing to shout about’, said Mr Tan.
Kitto said: ‘To me, having waitresses dressed up and the extra attentive service are just bonuses. They don’t matter to me.’
So will the schoolgirl concept be as warmly received? Vince is ambivalent but Kitto said he prefers the maid idea.
He joked: ‘I like the feeling of being treated like a master.’