While I was aware that there were plans for Good Smile Cafe to expand overseas and open elsewhere in Asia including Taiwan, I did not expect to be able to visit the place during my recent trip back. Upon reading online announcements for a new cafe, I immediately assumed the store would be located in Ximending (西門町), which has been dubbed the Shibuya or Harajuku of Taipei. Therefore, I was surprised to find the ‘Good Smile x Karaoke no Tetsujin Cafe’ logo displayed beside the elevator in a rather small mall (K-mall) which is not usually populated by Otakus. The cafe was still being set up when I first found the place but I soon spotted the familiar faces of Madoka, Sayaka and Mami-senpai outside with an official opening date. Luckily, the mall is located only a few hundred meters from my house so I was determined beat the crowds on opening day and be one of the first ones in!
However, I couldn’t get a taste of ‘Cafe du Madoka Magica’ on its day of debut due to the massive amount of people outside, many of whom were men holding professional grade cameras. It was rather amusing when my mum asked me if these people are referred to as otakus. I think she was enlightened that day. Thankfully, the long queue was nowhere to be seen when we revisited on a weekday. Looking at the name ‘Good Smile x Karaoke no Tetsujin Cafe’, you would think there are karaoke facilities available so I was slightly disappointed when I found out that they didn’t provide the service. Official Madoka themed merchandise including wall scrolls, buttons and mini towels can be bought outside without entering the actual cafe. In addition, recently released figures from Good Smile Company including Nendoroids can be ordered but not directly purchased. Figmas, Nendoroids, and scale figures grouped by series are displayed in the outer transparent walls. Various Nendoroid Petites could also be seen floating in glass jars throughout the cafe. I thought this was a particularly cute way to exhibit them.
My mum and I had the cafe to ourselves for a few minutes since we were their first customers for the day. We were quickly served by a cute waitress in a maid outfit. The cafe offers a special menu with dishes based on whatever theme that is currently in effect, as well as a regular menu with steaks and beverages. You can go to the official website for a closer look at the menus. It took a while to decide our order because I wanted to try everything. I mean, who wouldn’t? I was very tempted to get the Kyuubey chowder (I loooooove chowder) but settled for the more unique Kyuubey curry and Kyoko’s Sweets set. During the short wait before our meal arrived, I went to admire the displays that I had only previously seen in blogposts. These included character designs and prints of the artworks by various illustrators shown at the end of each anime episode. Even the ceiling was thoroughly decorated with episode screenshots.
The dining table was not the least bit boring with the surface covered by Madoka and her comrades. Chow time began as soon as Kyuubey joined us at the table in the form of a beef curry dish. I wished there was more Kyuubey (rice) to go with the spicy taste of the curry as I devoured it rather quickly. However, Kyuubey was clearly replicating itself since it was continuously being brought out of the kitchen. All dishes come with a complimentary dining mat and drinks come with a coaster for you to take home. The dining mat I got has Kyuubey’s infamous :3 face on it. Although Kyoko’s Sweets set was of small portions, it was delicious and I had fun imitating Kyoko with the Pocky’s.
It was a pity I couldn’t take better photos of the beautiful figures on display because I only had a poor cellphone camera. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to have been able to view them in person. It’s unlikely that I would have the chance to see such a large collection of figures in a single location in New Zealand.
A special video message from the Puella Magi seiyuus was played during the cafe’s first week of opening. It was cute how they made the effort to learn a few lines of Mandarin. The last thing I did before leaving the cafe was to have a photo taken with my favourite witch Charlotte. Lighting was pretty bad underneath Charlotte’s mouth, which was unfortunate because it was the most appropriate place to pose for photos. They ought to produce smaller versions of the Charlotte ornament as an official merchandise. I’d buy one!
The cafe is easily reached, being just across the road from the Taipei Railway Station (TRA)/Taipei Main Station (MRT) in central Taipei. So if anyone is interested in visiting, just go to the fifth floor of K-mall, No. 50, Section 1, Zhōngxiào West Rd, Jhongjheng District (台北市忠孝西路一段50號5F) and you’ll be able to find Madoka and her friends. It’s best that you hurry because the cafe theme changes every season.