Monday, June 21, 2010

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

I am a huge fan of themed dining and nightspots. Cheesy they may be, what's not to like about entering a world of costumes and imagination? (And Japanese do it so well) You may remember the Ninja restaurant adventure we experienced last summer, which was so fun and memorable. 

On my latest trip to Tokyo, having just seen the Tim Burton version of the classic tale, I found an Alice in Wonderland themed Izakaya. 

An Izakaya is sort of the Japanese version of a pub. They serve alcohol and boast a wide array of yummy appetizer style food. People sit talking and eating for hours. Strangely, Sean and I can never figure out how to pace ourselves in these restaurants. We usually eat everything at once and then we're done after 20 minutes. We observed locals, however, and the trick is to order one appetizer at a time, talk, eat, and then order another. No need to rush, except that the habit seems to be ingrained in our American sense of urgency.
Stepping out of the elevator, you are greeted by a Japanese Alice standing in front of a wall adorned like a page of a book.
Amazingly, the wall actually opens up like an invisible hand turning the pages of a book and you walk down a long corridor of pages filled with passages from the story. 
The path meanders and finally, you enter the main dining room, which is filled with all sorts of fun details. You can't see it in this photo, but inside are funky lamps made out of cool hats, mirrored walls, and a giant teacup in the center where big groups can sit. 
The menu is delivered in the form of this miniature diarama, designed to make you feel like a giant. The sides of the box hold papers that slip in and out describing the food and drinks.
The food items are really clever, representing some feature from the story. I ordered a few things, including a salad with an edible mirror perched on top of it and a cheshire cat meat pie. Of course, every thing comes with a little note in the shape of a key that reads, EAT ME!
Why thank you, I will...
 Prosciutto and Avocado Salad
Minced Beef and Camembert Puff Pastry
Prices were a bit expensive and you are required to buy at least one drink. This is Tokyo after all. But like many places around the world, you pay for the ambiance, right?
The restaurant is aptly named "Alice" and it's located in Toyko in a high-rise in Ginza. 

Some of Japan's other themed restaurants include a 1950's school house, a Christian church (I guess Christianity is still somewhat of a novelty here), and a prison. 

I'm not sure that I'll be checking out any of these others, but here's a question for you readers:

What themed restaurant would you invent?


Uncork and Unwined said...

Wow, this looks really cool! I'd love to go to a restaurant like this. Great photos!

v-jenna said...

it must have been such a trip to eat in this restaurant.

an offbeat dining experience for sure, i'm especially intrigued by the edible mirror!

Peter and Stephanie said...

you went to the ninja place!? we were totally going to go there but the night we planned for it we were SOOO tired so just went to a nearby yakiniku house.....
I read about the Alice place....looks like tons of fun!

PS... LOVE your ninja dinner adventure video!!

shopgirl said...

This is so cool! I've only ever been to the traditional theme restaurants in America. I love the fifties diner restaurants. But, I'm with you....if they are fun and interesting - why not? I would love an English teahouse theme where they dressed up during Victorian times.

Meliha said...

That looks cool! Wish they had those in the U.S. (or do they?)....


Ekua said...

OMG, this place looks amazing. You may have singlehandely convinced me to go to Tokyo, haha!

christine said...

Wow. This place looks amazing.


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