Akihabara, also known as “Akiba,” is heaven-on-earth for otaku, gamers, cosplayers, and electronics enthusiasts. It is frequented by die-hard fans of anime or technophiles scouting the latest figurines and gadgets on the market. This otaku haven also boasts themed cafes and restaurants to feed hungry shoppers after a day of hunting down anime merchandise, collecting figurines, tracking down camera gear, and playing in arcades. Find out where to eat in Akihabara, from themed cafes to traditional Japanese restaurants, and even a Bib Gourmand restaurant in Akihabara!
Themed Cafes in Akihabara
No guide to where to eat in Akihabara, the land of the otaku, could be complete without themed cafes. It is in Akihabara that maid cafes and the girl group AKB48 (whose name is an abbreviation of “Akihabara”) got their start. In Where to Eat in Akihabara, we cover a few of the most popular themed cafes in Akihabara, but if you’re curious about themed cafes outside of Akihabara, check out the 5 Must-Visit Character Cafes in Tokyo.
1. Maid Cafes
Akihabara is renowned for maid cafes, where the servers who are dressed as maids serve their “masters” or “mistresses.” Maid cafes have been shaped by Akihabara’s pop culture and are frequented by hard-core anime fans or otaku. Girls in poufy skirts and frilly aprons can be seen giving out flyers on the street in front of their cafes, a fascinating sight for foreign visitors. At these cafes, you can get adorable themed food, witness performances by the maids, and even get a hand massage! Generally, they serve delicious comfort food, especially yoshoku (Western-style) dishes like spaghetti and omurice. Read 6 Best Maid Cafes in Akihabara to learn more about the variety of maid cafes, including one where guests dress up in period costumes!
A few of the famous maid cafes in Akihabara include Cure Maid Cafe, @Home Cafe, and Maidreamin. Cure Maid Cafe is a Victorian-themed cafe where the maids serve Japanese and European dishes. At @Home Cafe, the maids chant magic spells to make your drinks tasty! The cute servers there also draw cute characters on your drinks or omurice (fried rice-filled omelet). Some of their must-try items include a wide array of drinks, cheesecakes, and parfaits. @Home Café also serves alcoholic beverages and has sometimes has live entertainment for patrons. At Maidreamin, the maids sing and dance, and the food is adorned with bear and cat designs for a kawaii vibe. It goes without saying that you should be respectful and kind when interacting with the servers, so you can truly enjoy the maid cafe experience.
2. Gundam Cafe
While Akihabara is known for maid cafes, there are other themed restaurants and cafes in Akihabara. For the certified Gundam otaku, what better way to relish the experience than to sink your teeth into the food and embrace the ambiance of Gundam Cafe. The price is around ¥1,000 per meal, which are named after Gundam characters, such as Char’s Zaku Curry and Waldfeld’s Kitsune Udon, a recreation of the udon noodle soup he eats in the series. Meanwhile, cheese lovers will relish in the Gundam Stew, a gratin-style cream stew which is absolutely swimming in creamy cheese. Akihabara’s Gundam Cafe also serves cocktails and you can even snag a free themed coaster for each cocktail you order!
3. AKB48 Cafe
This J-Pop girl group themed cafe in Akihabara serves light lunches and desserts for fans of AKB48. There, you can try your favorite AKB48 member’s special dish, like Nana Okada’s favorite Lucky7 Chocolate Parfait, Tomu Muto’s Warabi Mochi, or Nagisa Sakaguchi’s Pork Donburi. You can also catch up on their recent concerts, which plays on a continuous loop inside the cafe. The shop also has adorable themed AKB48 stationary, t-shirts, candies, and more, so you can rep your favorite AKB48 performer.
Classic Japanese Restaurants in Akihabara
Aside from themed cafes, there are also many highly-rated restaurants in Akihabara, including one Bib Gourmand restaurant and a surprisingly affordable fresh sushi restaurant
In 2016, the Michelin Guide bestowed the Bib Gourmand upon Marugo, a humble tonkatsu restaurant in Akihabara. With over 40 years of history, Marugo is quite a famous restaurant in the area, serving up golden, deep-fried pork cutlets with their original sauce (though you can also pair your tonkatsu with salt, soy sauce, or grated daikon). For under ¥2,000, you can munch on the bestselling toku rosu katsu (pork loin tonkatsu), a tender marbled pork cutlet that is fried to crispy perfection. Since word got out, Marugo has become popular with foreign visitors as well as locals, and they have an English menu to accommodate the latter crowd.
Nemuri-an is a humble soba restaurant in Akihabara that you won’t find on the Michelin Guide, although word of mouth about their authentic, artisanal noodles has traveled quickly among foodie circles. Nemuri-an has made a name for itself with their dedication to te-uchi, the craft of making and cutting soba noodles by hand. They even have a stone mill, which they use to grind buckwheat into flour every day, another sign of their artisanal commitment to soba-making. To go along with your soba noodles, you can also enjoy smoked dust breast (kamo no kunsei) made in house at Nemuri-an.
3. Ikina Isshou
Ikina Isshou is a restaurant in Akihabara full of surprises, with the exterior resembling an old ramen shop while the interior is all shiny and new and quite modern. Regardless of the season, Ikina Isshou (translating to “a wonderful life”) will surely have the right ramen for you, serving hot ramen in the chilly winters and cold ramen in the humid Japanese summers. Their specialty is their salt ramen, which has light seafood-y flavors married with a richer meat taste.
4. Sushiya Ginzo
This sushi restaurant in Akihabara features a fish tank window (so you know it’s fresh) and offers affordably priced sushi. Enjoy an eight-piece sushi set with egg custard and miso soup, or choose another lunch set including dishes like grilled fish, udon, donburi, and tempura. Aside from sushi, they also serve a variety of izakaya foods which are staples on the menus of Japanese pubs. With an English menu, you’ll feel right at home even if you don’t speak or read Japanese.
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Akihabara is a district that caters to your hidden otaku with themed cafes and anime merchandise. It is a playground that brings out the inner child, a place where you can embraces pop culture heartily, with cafe culture to match. And if you want to experience authentic Japanese restaurants, Akihabara is a great place to do so, just check out the classic sushi bars, artisan soba noodles, and award-winning tempura joint in this guide to Where to Eat in Akihabara.
Aleli is a wanderlust whose main itinerary is to culture soak in the places that she sets foot on, sinking her teeth in the gustatory offerings that the place has to offer and knowing the story behind it. Food for her is a marriage of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the rich history of every city she explores and uses the pen as her tool to share to the world each unique experience she unravels.