Maid Cafe Bangkok at Gateway Ekkamai offers an unusual concept that some might have heard about a couple of times, but few have actually experienced personally. The name is pretty much self-explanatory, but the idea behind Bangkok's first Maid Cafe goes way beyond the little black dress with white apron inspired by old-fashioned housemaids. Not only are the dresses a lot shorter (without being overly sexy), but there is an entire fantasy world created by the décor and rather unorthodox/geeky style of service.
The Maid Café concept originated from Japan, mostly in Akihabara in Tokyo, so I was curious to know if this Thai version really offered an authentic experience or just a facade. To my surprise this is actually the real deal; it is exactly what you get in Japan, just a little smaller. It has all the tight rules and geeky little protocols of its Japanese counterpart with hundreds of stuffed animals hanging all over the place. Describing the whole experience might be difficult, but here are some of the moments I witnessed...
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
- Banyan Tree's Apsara Dinner Cruise
- Vertigo & Moon Bar Rooftop Dining
- Ayutthaya Ancient Capital Tour with River Cruise
- Shangri-La Hotel's Buffet Dinner Cruise
- Bridge on the River Kwai & Historic Railway Tour
- Siam Niramit Dinner Show
- Calypso Bangkok Cabaret Show
- Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise
- Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Half-Day Tour
I am greeted (in Thai) by a pretty young girl wearing the required outfit, makeup and hairstyle of a 12 year-old-girl (which obviously she is not). Her voice is unusually high and manners purposely childish. Once seated, she brings the menu to me, together with a ‘dreamin’ candle’ and a ‘dreamin’ passport’… The ‘Dreamin’ Passport’ is clearly a membership card in disguise, to encourage you to come back. If you do, you'll get a cute little dance. (Not a lap dance obviously).
The candle, like almost everything in a Maid Cafe, comes with a little ceremony: there’s a song (in Japanese), before you blow the battery candle to switch it on and ‘start your dream’ (clap hands here)! I’m informed that from this moment on she will address to me as ‘Master’ and make all my dreams come true, starting by taking my order. The dining menu is short and like everything in the cafe, covered with cute Japanese cartoon characters.
I picked a Japanese Omurice (the contraction of omelet + rice), which is nothing more than rice cooked with ketchup and served with… an omelet. In Japan, this can be actually quite a good comfort food for teenagers and single guys. But here it’s more about the presentation than the taste: the rice is shaped like a couple of sleeping teddy bears tucked under an omelet blanket. How cute…
While I’m waiting for my order, I discreetly observe my neighbours. Having experienced Maid Cafes in Japan I’m curious to know if the Bangkok clientele is similar here…and in a way it is. All are male, a little older than teenagers with a similar facial expression: a little absent until one of the pretty maids walks nearby and pays attention to them. When she does, the guys are suddenly all in admiration with sparkles in the eyes, begging for attention.
My omurice arrives and ‘Mai’, my dedicated maid, asks: ‘Master, what would you like me to draw on your omurice?’… Maybe it is my puzzled look on my face or the long time it takes me to process the information… she announce she will draw me a dog… with some ketchup of course. See the photo for the pretty result. “Oh wait, master”, she says, “before you eat your lovely lunch, you have to sing another little song with me!” I mumble more than I sing (it’s again in Japanese). If you need a drink or anything else, don’t just raise your hand - that would be impolite. No, you have to put your hands on each side of your head, twist them like a cat washing its ears and make a sound like this: ‘Niaaa Niaaaaa!’ That is only embarrassing until you get thirsty enough, then the Niaaa Niaaa comes pretty naturally. None of my neighbours appears even remotely surprised since they are pretty good at it themselves. Probably because a maid café requires customers to order at least one item per hour, no free ride! I witnessed a couple of dances performed (all in Japanese) by two or four maids for a specific customer who won something or paid for the show. Again, don’t picture a go-go bar kind of dance here, it’s all overly cute. Surprisingly, all the boys in the cafe clap, sing along and know every word and every little to each song. At that point, I need a beer or some sake, but as it isn’t 5pm yet, so no alcohol can be served!
From the beginning it is made very clear to you that no photo of any girl can be taken... for free. You can take a picture if you pay 100 baht per girl and only if it is take with the café’s own Polaroid, or your mobile phone. Not fancy DSLR camera. So here you go, for the agreed sum of 400 baht, I take two shots of the girls you see on this photo: a vertical and a horizontal. Ok, that should do for the story...but wait, there’s more! The maid that looks like the manager ask me (with that high pitch voice) “Master, which of the two photos would you like to keep?” She will not allow me to keep both, whatever silly Niaaa Niaa I can do. At this point I have had about enough; it’s all very fun but the levels of geekiness are too much handle, so I decided to call it a day. I ask for the bill… which surprisingly includes the 4 girls’ photo taken with a mobile phone!
- Opening Hours: 11:00 - 22:00 Daily
- Location: M floor,982/22 Sukhumvit Road
- Tel: 66 (0)2 108 9466