My visit to the Maid Café in Bangkok. There is a fine line between creepy and sexy, and the Japanese have appeared to master this combination. Maidreamin located in a generic mall (now currently closed) in Bangkok is a Japanese creation imported directly from the Akihabara district in Tokyo.
Maidreamin is a wet dream for introverted males who love video games, magna, and anime. These young ladies (waitresses) don some iteration of a French maid customer and address the customer in an infantile manner. The “maid cafes” date back to 2001 in Tokyo. The image of the maid is fetishized in many anime cartoons and comic books in Japan. Here the diner can interact with these maids in the flesh.
Upon learning that there was a maid café in Bangkok, I decided to investigate on an oven-hot Friday for lunch. I approached the Maidreamin on the 2nd floor of the Gateway Mall, which was located across from a bank. A bespectacled, braces-wearing maid greeted me in a falsetto konnichiwa and led me to the table. A chorus of konnichiwa was announced by the other maids and the other all-female staff as I sat down. I quickly scanned the petite restaurant and saw only one other customer, a lone tomboy sitting in the opposite corner. The tables were adorned with stuffed animals.
A youthful maid approached my table and kneeled by my side. She presented me with a dream candle. In a girlish, sing-songy voice she informed me that all my dreams would come true when she blew out the candle (battery powered). I then scanned the overpriced menu in pinks and whites. Many of the items were adorned in ketchup-drawn figures or bear-shaped rice. The maid took my order and informed me that to get her attention, I needed to wave my hands by my ears and make a cat sound.
I scanned the room and noted the spiral staircase, chandeliers and a plethora of stuffed animals. The three maids scurried about serving the two customers. I then studied the menu a bit more closely. Maidreamin seemed to be focused on secondary revenue streams. I had the opportunity to purchase the aforementioned dream candle ($5), key chains, or even a maid dress ($10). Or I could focus more on experiences. I could view a live show including dancing and singing of Japanese children’s songs, ($13) play a game with a maid ($3), or take a photo of one of the maids ($3). Then came the hammer, the rules. Ranging from no touching, no personal questions, and no giving any presents. I innocently asked my maid, Cece, how long she worked at Maidreamin, and was promptly informed that this was a secret.
My meal was brought out with another dream candle. I was then taught a brief song which I had to sing with my maid, Mihu. She then informed me that she would draw something on my omelet for me. I asked Mihu what she could draw. She informed me that she could draw anything, such as a cat or dog. I decided to challenge her asking her to draw a bear kissing a butterfly. She politely giggled while covering her mouth. She grabbed the plastic ketchup bottle. After she had successfully drawn the bear I congratulated her.
I ate my bear-shaped rice, mediocre pork, and ketchup-bear omelet. I lazily glanced at the video screen playing maid café videos and watched the tomboy unsuccessfully flirt with one of the maids. I pondered I was possibly in an alternate universe. Was this Asia’s answer to Hooter’s overt sexuality?
My meal came to an end with the presentation of my receipt. When I departed, the maids chanted something in Japanese as they bowed.
Here is what happens in the maid cafes.