It Came From Japan

It Came From Japan
Quit staring and order a coffee.
Image: Justin Saranillo

It Came From Japan / Walk down Harajuku and they’re everywhere: Frilly, leggy girls (or guys, in some parts of Japan) dressed in maid costumes, waiting to serve you tea, play games and give you massages. The service? Top notch. It’s a lonely otaku’s dream come true.

At least, that’s the reputation around the “maid cafe” subculture craze in Japan. Although there are strict rules for customers who go to the cafes, there’s a distinctly male clientele with a cosplay fetish. But owners Justin Saranillio and his wife Emma are using a different approach with their new truck version, called Mobile Maid Cafe, opening Saturday. “Many people get the wrong impression that our business is an adult-only environment,” says Saranillio. “But it’s actually the opposite. Maid Cafe gives everyone the chance to experience the luxury of having a ‘maid’ wait on you hand-and-foot.”

Saranillio got the idea after visiting Japan this summer with his wife. “We both agreed that [Mobile Maid Cafe] would be something new and enjoyable for people in Hawaii,” he says. The maids at the truck are both local and Japanese girls. They’ve got the whole maid service thing down, with the cute greetings and cosplay costumes. The truck has tables and chairs outside, so the maids come out, serve food, play games and take photos.

The truck will open with games, photo ops and free anime gifts and treats. Saranillio says it’ll be a family-friendly affair. “Both adults and children of all ages are welcome.” For now, the menu is strictly pastries and candies that range from $2–$5. Within the next month, the truck may begin offering local-style dishes. “We will be featuring a variety of local culinary talent weekly to prevent taste bud boredom,” says Saranillio. Once the truck settles, he hopes to open an actual maid café in Ala Moana or Waikiki.

Mobile Maid Café, Diamond Parking Lot, 700 Ward Ave., at the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Ward Avenue, Sat., 11/10, 10am–6pm, []