A Far Overdue Write Up Of That Time I Went To The Akihabara Eorzea Cafe

Way back in October 2019 (the before time!), I was in Tokyo and managed, through buying a 4-top for two people, to get in to the Eorzea Cafe for what ended up being a $120 lunch (I’ll explain why in a minute). I promised a write-up, but I was overseas on an iPad, and then flew from Tokyo to Blizzcon 2019 (that was a bout of jet lag that got me, I’ll tell you), and Shadowlands got announced (innocent times that) so the promised post I was going to write on the Eorzea Cafe experience kept falling further and further away until here I am now, over two years later, and with the blog’s fifth anniversary today and a lot of drafted big posts, I figured let’s go with something light and fun to cap off the celebration.

So, the Eorzea Cafe. Square Enix (and Japanese media in general) have this thing about branded eating experiences, such that they are fairly commonplace. Square Enix sometimes hosts their own at company cafes (they have a couple) and sometimes partner with a third party for a longer-term engagement. The Eorzea Cafe, which has three locations in Japan (Akihabara in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka) is a partnership with Pasela, who does branded dining for a lot of properties (when we went in 2019, the floor with the Eorzea Cafe was shared by, no joke, a Minions cafe). While some of these are just restaurants you can go to and be seated normally, the Eorzea Cafe is a ticketed attraction. You pay an admission cost of 1,000 yen per seat to reserve a table (the ticket cost includes a drink and job coaster) and your reservation is for one of a handful of 2-hour limited blocks during the day, with both lunch and dinner time options available. When we went, you had to navigate the Lawson Loppi ticket site using Google Translate to reserve, then go to a Lawson’s convenience store terminal to pull up the reservation and pay (likely also needing Google Translate’s lens function to make sense of it unless you know Japanese), receiving the tickets there. They’ve since switched to an online ticketing site that includes English navigation, lucky you if you can make it into Japan to try going!

Once you get there, you wait to be seated, with a small gift shop area that sells plushies, job icon pins, and various other things from the game. When checked in, you get to pick your first coaster from the job options available. When I went, despite it being after Shadowbringers launch, there were not yet Gunbreaker or Dancer coasters, so since we got 4 (1 for each seat we reserved) I took White Mage, Astrologian, Red Mage, and Samurai. Seating is assigned (since you bought a table ticket) and everyone gets a Jumbo Cactpot ticket (just like the Golden Saucer!). Ordering is done via a tablet which helpfully has both Japanese and English options and it auto-sends your food and drink orders, so language barrier issues are an absolute minimum.

The eating experience is interesting, as the menu is decidedly Western for the most part, with only a few more distinctly Japanese dishes (curry rice, cold udon noodles) and the rest being a wide array of culinary tastes – some French influence like croquettes (modern Japan oddly LOVES French stuff), there’s pizza, a lot of sugary mixed drinks (no booze!), and everything is in relatively smallish portions, with many dishes being shareable easily enough. The core idea (and the major profit center) is that each item you buy gives you a random coaster with different game art on it, like Primals, patch key art, and character artwork. Hence how we spent $120 on lunch – 12 smallish items at around $10 a pop to get some coasters adds up pretty quick!

The ambience is what you’re there for, though, and it is a fun place to be as a fan of the game. Each cafe has a distinct theme, with the Akihabara location being themed after Gridania, so it has a faux-wooden construction with large stained-glass “windows” and ornate framing for the various weapons on display. A centerpiece at the middle of the cafe is loaded with floating Moogles, sandwiched between a couple of smaller tables and a row of PCs loaded with the game that you can play. The music in the cafe cycles through the in-game soundtrack, serenading you with the sweet sounds of Soken as you chow-down on your themed plates.

Some of my favorite meals:

Mother Miounne’s La Noscean Toast

This was toast with a maple sauce and butter – looked like French Toast, but was a far bit sweeter. My taste for sweet will someday be my undoing, so I loved it, but it might be cloying for some!

The Bull Bowl of Ala Mhigo

A Raubahn-themed beef stew and rice dish, this was a really good savory plate. It’s extremely hot (temperature wise) as it was served in a cast iron skillet-style plate, so it takes some cooling time to enjoy, but it was very good – the saffron rice and stew had a good balance of flavors. It is a longer prep-time dish, so if you think you want it, order early!

Ifrit’s Brilliant Flame Pillar Pizza

It’s a pizza. With a seaweed Ifrit on it.

Okay, deadpan delivery aside, this one is good – the pepperoni is good stuff and the crust is a sort of thin, blackened crust that I really liked (a weird quirk about me – I like burned bread and bread-product, not like all the way, but that good char). The pizza is a little spicy (my white person weakness, nooooo) but I really liked it!

Nidhogg Eyes

This was a menchi katsu (a ground, fried pork cutlet with breading) and it was very good. One of the few items where the decorative element to bring FFXIV to the food wasn’t a manufactured or non-edible thing, as they put the sauce on the menchi katsu in the pattern of the eyes! It’s definitely the dish I remember the most, although probably not as good overall as the Raubahn rice stew (it was so good!).

Thordan Cold Udon

It’s got King Thordan in a blue-dyed fish broth served cold. Cold noodles are a thing in Japan, but texturally, it wasn’t for us (I don’t like a lot of fish broth in the first place so my wife got it and she didn’t like the cold in general or the texture it conferred on the noodles). Looks cool though, and I believe I got my Alexander coaster from it, so 4/10!

The Drinks

Drinks are all non-alcoholic and run a wide gamut, but most are mocktails, so overly complex sugary concoctions. As a sweet person, I loved the ones I tried – we had the Warrior drink, the Dark Knight one, a Samurai one (it had a katana stirrer, I mean, come on), the Black Mage, and a Bahamut drink (Baha Blast? Sorry Larryzaur). All of them were great in my opinion, but I know I liked the Warrior one so much I ordered it twice. The new menu seems to have a bigger mix of drinks including job ones and a lot of character ones too, and there’s a good mix of drinks that are pretty Japanese, usually with tea and one with boba if that’s your thing.

The Eating Experience

Eorzea Cafe is all about pulling you into your fandom for a 120-minute block of time, and at that, it does very well. The music playing, the look of everything, the theming of the menu, the TVs around playing patch trailers and little encounter snippets, it’s all great. Interestingly, despite how difficult the process was in 2019 to even get tickets to go (having to use Google Translate in two forms and go to a convenience store within 72 hours to pay and pickup your tickets), it was about a 50/50 split of obvious foreign travelers and Japanese people. The experience once you get said tickets is pretty well built to be usable to foreigners – the staff explain the process thoroughly in English, the tablets are easy to use in English, and nothing else requires language skills. My favorite part was that the Jumbo Cactpot ticket you get on check-in is used for a prize – a ridiculous large Moogle cake served to the winning table. Another traveling couple won it for our session and shared the cake with us, and it was pretty good!

Of course, if you’re a big enough fan of FFXIV to seek it out (and you do need to seek it out, between it being on the second floor of a large building with little external signage, needing to prepurchase often-sold-out tickets for a dining slot, and of course just making to to Japan in the first place), it will serve its primary purpose to the business of FFXIV – getting you to part with your money. Job pins at 500 yen each was a decent deal, I bought myself 5 and 3 more for friends, and if they had more jobs that day, I would have bought more. The plushies and little collectibles you can grab are often hard to find elsewhere, so if you travel all that way and make it to the cafe, you’re probably buying something. The food prices are just reasonable enough for the quality that you’ll absolutely get sucked into buying a myriad of dishes, if for no other reason than to keep playing the gatcha game for coasters (I only got one duplicate, which was Odin). They have a Grand Company stamp card that rewards each purchase with a stamp and gives free items at breakpoints, including ridiculously high breakpoints like getting a large stone tablet version of the job coaster of your choice (which is often not stocked locally, so if you’re visiting, good luck actually getting that!).

But, all in all, it was an amazingly fun experience, from just finding it on a rainy Akihabara day to all the various delicious food, the ambience, and the fun keepsakes like the coasters I still display and the job pins right in front of me as I write this. If you happen to wind up in Japan and near-enough to go to one of the locations (and if you’re visiting Japan from afar, it’s pretty likely you’ll end up in one of the places they have locations), you should try to get tickets and go. A lot about traveling to Japan is labeled as expensive, but my experience is that meals aren’t that bad, which made the Eorzea Cafe an excellent splurge choice for a fun meal and overall destination!

I now have shoulder-length hair and a full beard, which is how far in the before-times this was!

2 thoughts on “A Far Overdue Write Up Of That Time I Went To The Akihabara Eorzea Cafe

  1. Thanks fpr the report, that s interesting!

    I visited Akihabara in 2013 for a retro 8-bit console shop, wasn’t easy to find as well. So, you’re saying you could buy merch without booking a table? Not too interested in eating an overpriced lunch, even if dished look gorgeous in design, but I would go for a look and a purchase when I’m in Japan next time.

    Like

    1. Yep! The merch stand is out front at the check-in counter and accessible freely, so provided you know where it is, you can get there easily and buy stuff. We bought all of our merch prior to checking-in!

      Liked by 1 person

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