Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Report: Shinjuku Animate Café – Yuri!!! on ICE

You may or may not have noticed, but Yuri!!! on ICE has blown up. This is either their second or third Animate collab, and one of three that is currently running. The first was their food truck outside of the head shop in Ikebukuro, the second was a collab with the Fukuoka Animate store, and now they have collabs running in Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Thailand. 

This is the first report from my Yuri!!! on ICE Animate Café adventures, and it will not be my last. 

Given how popular the series is, the reservation system was done by random lottery. I put in entries for just about every weekend or day I had off from work, and so far I’ve gotten some pretty good results. Either the popularity has died down or since there are so many other Yuri!!! on ICE café collabs (Sweets Paradise, Namja Town, Princess Café, even the prefecture of Saga) the market’s demand has been filled. Either way, I’m pleased because this meant that I could actually attend an Animate one. In fact I will be attending them multiple times because so far I have gotten 5 entries. 

So this time I went to the Shinjuku café, which isn’t so much of a café as it is a drink stand. It has all the original character collab drinks as well as some light desserts. 


So this café is located on the 6th floor of the Marui Annex building in Shinjuku. It does not appear to be a restaurant as much as it appears to be a retail space that they put a small kitchen area in, which is why the only serve drinks and simple desserts. 

I really liked how they put the ribbons behind the wall scrolls. It really helps ground them. 
Something I found interesting was how most of the patrons of this café were on the older side, even though I went during lunch hours on a Sunday! I wonder if the majority of the Japanese fans are older.

I just love them so much. 
They put him by himself next to a merch display case. It kind of looks like he is pointing at the case. To the right of him there was also animation cells on display, but there was a very obvious no photos sign next to it. I wish there were photos ok signs because I never know when I can or cannot take a photo. 
A Yurio birthday shrine, it had been about 15 days since his birthday at this point.
This is the kind of ita tackiness that makes me laugh but also makes my eyes burn. It also serves as a firm reminder that less sometimes really is more, and putting a mirror under stuff makes it seem classier.
Overall, I would say that the theme was strong and clear. I guess one of the benefits of being a part of Animate is that it the café has easy access to massive amounts of wall scrolls and standees. What was interesting to me was that since other cafes usually just decorate with laminated printer photos that make the collaboration feel cheap, but since they are actual restaurants they still do not feel like they are cheap attempts at a restaurant as a whole. This café had the opposite problem. The decorations looked really nice and expensive, but the café itself felt bland and kind of reminded me of a cubicle. 


So as I keep mentioning, this was a drink and dessert café with no real savory food options. Since our time slots were only 30 minutes long and the café has a limited functioning capacity, they imposed limits on the orders. You could order up to 4 drinks and 1 dessert. 

Since I was going to Namja Town for their Yuri!!! on ICE collab after this cafe, I only ordered 2 drinks and one dessert. I will be going back to this cafe again soon so I cannot wait to try more!

Yurio's Russian Yankee Cider, Tiger Style
So I ordered this drink because I was not sure what to order and I love Yurio, as simple as that. The design also kind of reminded me of flan/pudding, so I thought it might taste like that, but that was not the case. The trend with Yurio is for everything to taste like orange ciris. I am not even sure what the shot of flavor at the bottom was, but I know that this drink 100% did not taste like flan. I was expecting the ice cream to be orange flavored, which it was, but it was really sour. I was not expecting the ears to be made out of rice crackers. I thought they would be made out of chocolate. Overall I would say this drink was not bad.
JJ's Maple Berry Rink
So I ordered this JJ drink because it looked the most appetizing of all the drinks on the menu. My expectations for the drink were that it would taste like maple syrup, and the shot of flavor at the bottom was just going to be maple syrup, but it was actually some sort of berry flavor. I kept trying to pin it down, but I guess I would have to say that it was a mix of blue berries and strawberries. The drink itself was Calpis, which was kind of disappointing because this was one of the few times I actually wanted it to be milk. The decorations on top were a dollop of whipped cream with drizzle of Maple syrup, and a cookie shaped like a maple leaf. I thought the cookie might be some sort of gingerbread, but it was not and I have not been able to pin down the flavor. It was kind of chalky. Overall I say that I am glad I got to experience this drink. It was not bad, it just did not match with my expectations. My favorite part was the maple whipped cream. 
Emil Nekola's Berry Paratinki
So I was not sure what the berry sauce on this crepe was going to be, and a part of my was really concerned it was going to be a cherry sauce, but it was actually a really good mixed berry sauce. I did not have high expectations for this dish, but I was pleasantly surprised that this was what I found most enjoyable from this trip to the café. 10/10, would(and probably will) eat again.

The merch for the café was simple, cute, and largely blind. They had two different sets of café merch. One might have been from the previous food truck and had them dressed in generic café uniforms. The other was the Grand Prix Final merch that was designed for this set of cafes. 

I broke my own rule and bought 3 of each of the 4 types of blind merch. Apparently I have a problem with self control. 

Two Yuuri standees, one Victor, the Yuuri book mark, a Yurio button, and a secret Yurio standee and coaster. Not too bad. I always end up getting Pichit merch for some reason. If I did not nothing him so hardcore it might not be so bad, but whatever. I got quite a bit of JJ this time too. 

So overall, I thought this café was pretty good. I loved the decorations, while my expectations on the drinks were off, it was not in an entirely unpleasant way. To me, it seemed like there was not a lot of focus put on balancing the designs of the drinks with the flavors of them. An example would be that the JJ drink did not really taste as much like maple syrup, as indicated but the maple leaf and the drizzle on top, but more like the berries that they put at the bottom to give it that red color. 

I am glad that I will be going back to this one as well as going to the full food cafe in Ikebukuro too!

I would give it a 8/10 rating.

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