As it turned out, not only did my mum decide to come and visit us while we were spending two weeks travelling Japan, but her visit happened to fall on Mother’s Day. Anyone would think she’d planned it that way! Of course, having not seen her in the best part of a year, we wanted to plan something pretty special, and decided we’d treat her to dinner.
Tokyo is famous for its foodie scene, and whilst we’d have loved to visit one of the many top restaurants in the city, sadly on our backpacker budget it wasn’t to be. We needed to get creative and find a memorable dining experience that wouldn’t break the bank – which is where the idea of visiting one of Tokyo’s famous themed restaurants first came from.
There are so many themed restaurants in Japan it’s kind of staggering when you start to do your research and try to pick one. Unlike Taiwan, where we’d sadly discovered that some of the main ones we’d planned on visiting had closed down, the themed restaurant scene in Tokyo is well and truly thriving. From the Moomins and Rilakkuma to Peanuts, Hello Kitty and Final Fantasy, there’s something for everyone, especially if cutesy cartoon characters and bright colours are your thing! There’s even a restaurant where you can catch your own fish which are then immediately prepared as sushi.
After a bit of reading up, we decided to go for one of the FIVE Alice in Wonderland themed restaurants in Tokyo! We picked this as we’re big fans of the book and film adaptations, as is my Mum, and it seemed like a pretty cool concept as themed restaurants go. Alice in a Labyrinth has the best reviews, and even though they’re still not exactly great, we thought it was worth the risk. After all, we weren’t going for the food as much as the experience, and we felt we could fill our boots with delicious Japanese food for the rest of the trip.
The booking process is kind of complex and luckily our hostel was on hand to help as no one we tried to communicate spoke English and we don’t speak any Japanese. The team on reception managed to secure us a table and even let the restaurant know it was a special occasion, although I think something may have been lost in translation as I was wished a happy birthday several times on the night!
I’d definitely recommend Alice in a Labyrinth if you’re looking for a mid range, fun and quirky themed restaurant experience. Whilst the food wasn’t great, it wasn’t too bad, and the cocktails and overall theming was excellent. We enjoyed a 6 course tasting menu which was a mixed bag and included everything from pizza to bruschetta, together with several imaginative and tasty cocktails.
The real treat though was the dessert. They’d completely taken on board that we were visiting for a special occasion and served up an awesome Alice themed set of cake and pastries that looked and tasted brilliant. This typified the excellent service that we enjoyed for the whole evening – making it a real Mother’s Day treat and an experience we’d definitely repeat.