Pokémon has become such a massive part of so many people’s lives over the past twenty years, and the craze never dies down. The series both evolve while maintaining a sense of familiarity that makes it appeal to old and new fans alike. Plus Pokémon is one of Japan’s biggest exports to the rest of the world, and Pikachu is an international icon recognised by seemingly everyone these days. So in the country so famous for themed cafes, it’s a bit of a surprise that it took until 2018 for a permanent Pokémon Cafe to open - but it’s here now! And it’s well worth the wait.
At long last, the Pokémon Cafe has opened in Nihonbashi, Tokyo (close to Tokyo station). Alongside this permanent cafe that features a changing menu, the largest Pokémon Centre in Japan also opened. The two are attached by a shared lobby space so it’s easy to kill some time before your reservation picking up all your favorite goods. And then, of course, heading over to eat and drink some great food! We were fortunate enough to get a reservation on the long waiting list at the Pokémon Cafe, and visited the Pokémon Centre, too, and are excited to share all the details with you.
Square Enix Café Nihonbashi Info
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The Pokémon Cafe is in quite an unassuming and classy shopping mall, and at first, you may feel like you’re in the wrong building. But when you turn the final corner, there’s no questioning you’re in the right place. You’re greeted with a corridor completely painted in some of the most popular Pokémon, and they lead you straight into the lobby that the Pokémon Cafe and Pokémon Centre share. In the middle of the lobby is a huge Snorlax, along with Mew and of course Pikachu! Because we visited in Halloween, Pikachu was even dressed up. The whole lobby looks like something out of a science fiction movie, which is just a preface for the style of the Pokémon Centre.
But we will get to the store later. For now, on to the cafe! Follow the sign to your left and you can head into the Pokémon Cafe. The cafe is mostly hidden from the outside, though you can pop in without a reservation to buy some of the goods for sale. If you’re here to eat, though, you’re in for a real treat. The restaurant is huge, especially for a themed cafe. The Pokeball motif can be found everywhere, from art on the walls to shrubberies lining the walkways. All of the staff are also wearing red and white uniforms to stick to the colour scheme.
The restaurant is completely decorated in Pokémon art - and we were fortunate to see all of the autumn and Halloween themed decor! The rest of the interior is a welcoming and homey wood and white, making it feel very warm and pleasant. And of course, all of the Pokémon art everywhere makes it feel even brighter! There are also a few TVs around playing advertisements for the newest games, and the music is songs from the Japanese Pokémon anime. There are windows all along the wall, too, showing a great view of the Nihonbashi area from the fifth floor.
After you’re shown to your seat, it’s on to the main show - the food! The Pokémon Cafe has no shortage of themed food, dessert, and drinks. In addition to the steady menu that includes printed pancakes with the cafe logo, Pikachu curry, an Eevee latte, and more there is usually a seasonal menu as well. We ordered from both the Halloween menu and the regular one to try a bit of everything. First, we started with drinks - a “transforming” Ditto fruit tea that arrived on a colour changing light display, fresh chocolate Miltank milk, and a seasonal chestnut Pikachu latte. The Miltank milk was especially fun; we could mix everything with the help of the waitress, who directed us on how to use the chocolate sauce and candy to make a delicious drink. The Pikachu latte also came with the option to buy the mug!
As for the food, we mostly have into our sweet teeth because the dessert menu was so appealing, but we did get one savoury option from the regular menu - carbonara pasta hidden under an omelette that looked like Pikachu’s behind, complete with tail! We also ordered Mimikyu chocolate banana crepes and the seasonal Tangela Mont Blanc, which was filled with black sesame ice cream and on a bed of granola. The crepes also came with a lot of different fruit on the side and a crunchy tail-shaped cookie. Mimikyu’s head was also stuffed with cream and fruit. Everything was really good, and as much as we wanted to try more things from the menu, they were surprisingly filling!
Everyone we encountered working at the cafe was very friendly and welcoming. Many of them spoke English as well as Japanese, and they were happy and excited along with us about all of our food and drinks. Even when we embarrassingly spilled a glass of water everywhere, the staff were quick to help us and even offered a replacement placemat when our special Halloween one was ruined. While through the actual ordering of food is all done through an iPad, it was nice to interact a bit with the staff when we could. They were also more than happy to split the cheque for us when it came time to pay, so it’s easy to go with friends.
Due to its popularity, the Pokémon Cafe is reservation only right now. Reservations can be made easily via the website, though it is completely in Japanese. It’s not too complex to use, though, so with a bit of translation software you should be able to do it. The cafe has many 90-minute seating sessions to choose from throughout the day, and you can freely order whatever you want until the last order, which will be 30 minutes before your time is up. Be sure to arrive at the cafe on time! Your 90-minute window will not be extended if you are late.
All food and drinks are ordered through an iPad that is already on the table. The iPad can be changed into English, Chinese, and Korean to make it easy to place an order. Be warned that none of the food has descriptions, though, just a name and a picture. If you want to know more, it’s better to check the website and do some translating in advance to figure out what exactly comes with each plate. A few sleet parts of the menu also will remain in Japanese, but the majority can be changed to the language of your choice to make ordering simple for anyone!
Each drink at the Pokémon Cafe comes with a free coaster! When we went, we could choose between the special edition Halloween one or a “random” one. We did both, and with the random coaster were able to pick a Pikachu that we liked from a screen. That choice revealed what we won, and then the coaster was presented to us. We also got to keep the cool placemat that was waiting on our table when we sat down! If you want even more memories of your time at the Pokémon Cafe, there are plenty of exclusive goods you can buy. These include mugs, Pikachu cookies, shaped donuts, and more.
Finally, besides the Pokémon Cafe is the Pokémon Centre DX which also opened in 2018. It’s the newest Pokémon Centre in Japan and also the biggest - and it’s so sleek and well organised. The Pokémon Centre features walls of goods ranging from a huge variety of plush toys to Pokémon yukata, Pokémon cookies to casual clothing, and more. Plus unlike the other Pokémon Centres across Japan, the Pokémon Centre DX has some exclusive things to see. Right when you enter, there is a History Wall showcasing the timeline of Pokémon games, cards, and the anime. There’s a display that has every Pikachu Pokémon card that has ever been made. Finally, in the back, there is a touchscreen Pokédex that lets you flip through and learn about all your favourite Pokémon with the flick of a finger. It’s so much fun to play with and can be accessed in English, Korean, and Chinese, too.
The Pokémon Cafe has the wonderful appeal that it’s fun for both hard-core and casual fans. Even if you haven’t played Pokémon since you were a kid, there’s enough old stuff for it to feel familiar - but there’s also Pokémon from the most recent titles as well to keep devoted fans satisfied. People that love both the games and the anime can find things they recognise and love, too, and even if you aren’t that into Pokémon it’s hard not to feel like a kid again in the energetic atmosphere. Plus the food and drinks are genuinely good, and the theme is really well represented. We visit a lot of themed cafes across Tokyo, and trust us - this is one of the best ones we have encountered.
So with a committed theme, delicious food and drinks, a sizeable menu, exclusive goods, and a welcoming atmosphere, the Pokémon Cafe is worth a visit - and the long waiting list for a table. Even if you haven’t been into Pokémon since the first generation, it’s still a special experience. The prices are a bit higher than average, but the food and drinks you receive are well-thought out and taste good, so they are worth the extra price. So whether you’re an adult or a child, devoted or casual fan, into the anime or the games - get yourself a reservation at the Pokémon Cafe when you’re in Tokyo! And don’t forget to bring some extra money for the Pokémon Centre, too!
Have you been to the Pokémon Cafe in Nihonbashi? What would you like to order if you could go? Do you have any questions about making reservations or getting to the cafe? Drop us a comment below, we would love to hear from you!