As if Tokyo isn’t electric enough already, there exists a district in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo that has been designated as an ‘Electric Town’ — Akihabara (or ‘Akihabara Electric Town’).
In this animated hub, there is a ubiquity of shops selling all sorts of electronic goods, including home appliances and brand new and secondhand gadgets. Hundreds of shops dedicated to anime, manga, and cosplay are also prevalent in Akihabara, which is recognized as the otaku mecca of Japan. (“Otaku” is a Japanese term for enthusiasts of anime, manga, and video games)
Akihabara has an overabundance of maid cafés, cafés where young, innocent-looking girls are dressed as French maids while serving customers, who they welcome with the greeting “Welcome home, Master / Mistress!” Outside every maid café, you will find these costumed lasses handing out flyers and inviting you to visit their joint.
Maid cafés are extremely popular in Japan because of the male otaku’s fetish for young female characters in anime, manga, or video games. So are maid cafés kinky go-to spots for horny pedos? While red-blooded men may surely have a ball here, they may also be slightly disappointed because maid cafés promote good, clean fun (sorry, pervs). The maids will serve you drinks and food (which they sometimes decorate themselves and which are also sometimes annoyingly cute), play card games or video games with you, sing and dance for you, and, for an additional fee, even give you a massage (with your clothes on, of course). BUT do not expect any “extra service,” if you know what I mean. You can look but you can’t touch. Some maid cafés, in fact, are so strict that they don’t even allow photo-taking. In fact, when I took out my camera to take a picture of some of these maids on the streets, they looked away and hid their faces. I was just lucky to have been able to take a picture of one of the maids.
We went inside a large, 8-storey shop called Mandarake, one of the largest manga and anime stores in the world, which sells various anime and manga-related collectibles. For avid hobbyists and collectors, as well as self-confessed ‘geeks,’ Mandarake is a wonderland where all their otaku dreams come true as they go through shelves and shelves of toys, comics, and more.
Mandarake Complex Akihabara
Address: 101-0021 Sotokanda 3-11-12, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
How to get there: 4 minutes walk from JR Akihabara Station Electric Town Exit (view map)
Business Hours: 12:00 noon – 8:00 p.m. (Reception for buy back stand closes at 7:30 p.m.)
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the boys finally finished shopping at Mandarake and we all had dinner at Go! Go! Curry, a famous restaurant in Japan that serves dishes made with Kanazawa curry, a Japanese-style curry characterized by its thick, dark brown sauce.
In Go Go Curry!’s official Japanese page, the main photo in the slider says, “Everything is for our customer’s genki, happiness!” And I believe them, because after I had my first bite of their curry dish, I was really, really happy!
Customers can order any of the dishes in the photo below. (*NOTE: Prices in the photo are not updated. As of the time we visited Go! Go! Curry in 2014, the prices range from ¥730 to ¥2550)
At Go! Go! Curry, you customize your curry dishes by adding more toppings like rakkyo (Japanese scallion), boiled egg, cheese, or extra curry / pork katsu / chicken katsu / pork sausages / shrimp.
It was my first time to order a dish from a vending machine menu! How high-tech! Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand what was written on the menu. Fortunately, we were with Takashi and he knows Japanese! We all ordered the Pork Katsu Curry and got cheese as an additional topping. I’ve never had a curry and cheese combo before but it sounded good to me!
Because the first floor of Go! Go! Curry was already full, we stayed at the second floor. The upper level of the restaurant was also small, with only 10 stools! I noticed that a lot of Japanese restaurants are like this: minimalist and with space just enough for a small number of diners.
When my food arrived, my mouth watered without even tasting it yet. It smelled and looked amazing! I caught a whiff of the robust and sharp smell of curry, and salivated as the cheese melted on a bed of thick curry sauce and hot, steaming rice. On top of the cheese was a crispy and meaty breaded pork cutlet, with fresh shredded cabbage served on the side. The dish wasn’t even served on a fancy plate. It was just served with a fork on a stainless steel bowl, which actually looks like something your dog would eat on. But really, who cares?! The only thing about the bowl that I was concerned with was how to properly lick it so I can make sure that none of this delicious dish would go to waste!
There is always a long line of people outside Go! Go! Curry, and after having a taste of their katsu curry, I no longer wondered why. It can be pretty addictive! I came to Tokyo, looking forward to finally eating fresh and authentic sushi, but after my visit to Go! Go! Curry, I think I’ve found my new favorite Japanese food! When we returned home, I found myself missing the Pork Katsu Curry with cheese. It’s not only a full-flavored dish, but it will make you full as well. Paula and I had to share one plate because the serving was really big — perfect for anyone who’s on a budget but wants a heavy meal!
There are numerous Go! Go! Curry branches scattered across Japan, and there is also one branch in New York and Brazil. Lucky Americans and Brazilians!
The next time you’re in Akihabara, just look for the yellow shop with this gorilla logo:
Note that there are two Go! Go! Curry branches in Akihabara and the main one is along Chuo-Dori (beside Yoshinoya)
Go! Go! Curry Chuo-Dori Ten (秋葉原中央通店)
Address: 1-11-7, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0021, Japan (view map here)
Phone Number: 03-6206-9855
*Photos from me and Mike Smith / Miguel Lazatin