Themed restaurants attract many curious customers

Updated: 2011-10-20 08:04

By Guo Anfei and Guo Rui (China Daily)

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 Themed restaurants attract many curious customers

A waitress in a French servant's outfit serves dishes to a customer at the Astsidjmoy Maid Restaurant in Kunming on Oct 8. Liu Ranyang / China News Service

KUNMING / WUHAN - When Han Peng walked into the Astsidjmoy Maid Restaurant in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan province, he needed a moment to take in the scene.

The new themed, or "cosplay", restaurant had striking purple dcor and waitresses in French maid outfits who greeted customers by calling them "master".

"I heard of this restaurant on the Internet and brought my girlfriend here," Han said.

Like a lot of other patrons, 19-year-old Han enjoyed the experience, at least at first, which explains why the Japanese-style restaurants are popping up in cities across the country.

The phenomenon of "cosplay" restaurants and pubs started in Tokyo in the late 1990s. ("Cosplay" is a word made from "costume" and "play".)

The restaurants then found their way to Shanghai and Beijing, and now are appearing in cities such as Kunming and Wuhan in the central province of Hubei.

The restaurants themselves are part eatery and part role-playing game. They serve food, snacks and beverages, and the costumed waitresses treat the customers, who are mainly men, as if they are noblemen of days gone by.

Patrons go along with the game and pass the time playing card games and chatting.

"Some of those men like to enjoy the feeling of being respected and being served as a noble race," said Tian Chenghua, a professor of psychiatric research at Peking University's No 6 Hospital.

Tian said the restaurants were becoming more popular because increasingly affluent Chinese were trying new things and niche businesses were opening their doors.

Working in the "cosplay" restaurants is an experience in itself.

Mei Rui, 21, is one of the 15 "servants" in the Astsidjmoy Maid Restaurant. She was a fan of manga, or Japanese animation, and the job was an extension of that, she said.

"I feel like a child when I wear the costumes," she said.

Mei said the other waitresses were all around 20 years old and their generation grew up with famous Japanese comics and shows such as Doraemon and Sailor Moon.

Chen Ping, assistant manager of the Astsidjmoy, said it was the first maid-themed restaurant in the city and a branch would open if the success continued.

Wuhan has had such a restaurant, the Menggong House near Central China Normal University, for more than a year, but the shine, it seems, may be wearing off.

Yin Li, 35, said he used to frequent the restaurant often, but was not going anymore.

"The food is not special, while only the name of the restaurant and the maid costumes are fancy," he said.

China Daily