Toronto meets Tokyo at I Maid Cafe
Japan has exported cars and electronics to the West for decades, but it's only recently that the nation's dynamic culture, led by Pokemon and other Anime has also made the trip. Their success has led a few enterprising types to try transplanting some of the more offbeat aspects of Japanese culture into foreign soil. Can it work? Your on-the-scene reporter visited the I Maid Café in Toronto, Canada today to find out first hand!
Pretty maids all in a row...
Maid cafes have sprung up all over Japan since the first one opened in 1998, catering mainly to so-called "otaku" who feel more comfortable dealing with a subservient maid then with other people in social settings. Imagine how surprised I was to discover that here in Toronto, Canada, just a few minutes away by car, is an actual maid café!
Maid to order...
I Maid Café is located just south of Toronto's newest booming Chinatown (we have about 7 at last count), and both the former and current new management are of Chinese extraction. This is reflected in the menu, which offers Japanese foods like "Home Rice" (a rice-stuffed omelet topped with ketchup), Chinese standard fare, and a selection of Taiwanese Bubble Teas. The café itself was decked out in classic black & white with a wall-mounted plasma TV displaying a live concert by a Chinese singer.
I brought my lovely and charming Japanese wife with me for cover - didn't want to look like some over-aged otaku out to ogle the maids! We were greeted at the door by a young, pretty Chinese girl wearing a red & white maid outfit. That's her in the photo below, which unfortunately doesn't show her rather sexy black knee socks.
Fox in socks...
As for the food, it was quite tasty, accented by the glass of cool Mint Coffee my wife & I shared. The service, while decent, didn't really differ from that of any other normal café. I'm not sure what we expected and it might be too much to ask that we be greeted with the "Welcome, Master and Mistress" emoted by staff at Japanese maid cafes. As well, neither foot rubs nor complementary ear cleaning were in the offing - maybe I've overly researched the topic of maid cafes!
Then again, what percentage of I Maid Café's clientele really expects the full-on Japanese theme café experience? Considering the lack of local competition, I Maid Café does a good job of bringing a little Japanese weirdness to far-away Toronto. (images via I Maid Café)
Japanese Innovations Writer