As part of the #SweetSaturday series, let me introduce to you an authentic Butler Cafe at Tokyo!
It was my friend’s first time visiting Tokyo last year, and I thought it’ll be fun to go to themed cafe. I’ve already been to an owl cafe and a Sailormoon themed pop-up cafe, so I suggested to go to a butlers cafe this time! We did some research online and settled for Swallowtail.
At first, I was rather apprehensive. After making the reservation, I even went onto YouTube to check out how the cafe is like. I just didn’t want the experience to come across as ‘gimmicky’. I mean well… you know how the Foreign Butler Cafe at Shibuya (hires only foreign Caucasian men) and those pop-up ‘butler’ (intentionally put in inverted commas because they’re really of ill standards) cafes during anime fest are like. Ideally, the butlers should look as cool as like Sebestian from the Black Butler, or maybe as cute as Honey-senpai from Ouran High School Host Club. (Hahaha, please excuse me of my fantasies.) And guess what, the cafe didn’t disappoint! 🙂
First when we took the stairs down to the basement, we were greeted with a butler at the front door who confirmed our reservation. Then we were greeted ‘home’, and from that point on, treated just like a princess. The footman carried our bags and another Butler showed us to the seats with care.
The butler who is attached to us, explained the menu and instructions. Important to note, most butlers are not conversant in English. The one who was attached to us first explained to me in Japanese, then explained it once more to my friend in simple English. It was a very nice gesture because I could see how hard he tries to help my friend understand.
The instructions are kind of cute, I’ll list them here:
- If you need any help, ring the bell to get a butler’s attention
- You need to be escorted to the toilet and back
- Do not refill the tea yourself – an ojou-sama shouldn’t be doing things like that herself
Anyway if you’re curious, he’s not a tall, dark and handsome butler. He’s more like Batman’s butler – middle aged, amiable, looks trustworthy and wears a chain to his spectacles. When he left us to decide on our order, he even said to me embarrassingly, “If you need someone who speak more advanced English, do let me know. I will get help.”
Fast forward to our meal. We each ordered a dessert plate (the menu changes every month, so it’s not useful for me to put down the items and prices here) which comes with a pot of tea or other drink of your choice. The cafe prides itself with its wide and delectable selection of teas, which I did enjoy. If you’re too spoilt for choice, let the butlers recommend something to you!
When the dessert plate came, our butler once again painstakingly explained each item on the plate and also explained the print on our cups (each cup at the cafe is unique! A seemingly trivial yet intricate detail). To my pleasant surprise, the dessert plate is a thoughtful selection of seasonal items as well. Not only were they tasty, the plating was beautiful and so visually inviting. It looks exactly like the picture they post on their official website (zero exaggeration here). It was at this point where I was really glad I came and my apprehension vanished.
To fully immerse in the atmosphere, I also went to the toilet just so I could get escorted. FYI, they don’t wait right outside the toilet door – they just request for you to stay within the red carpet when you come back so they can show you back to your seat. On my trip back to my seat, I was actually served by another butler who was not tending my area. But he actually knew where I sat!! Honestly, I was quite impressed because the cafe is not that small. This really demonstrates how attentive and professional they are!
To top it off, while eating and sipping to our tea, I realized the butlers were changing shifts. Suddenly, there were many butlers around. I don’t know if this happens every hour, but I consider myself really lucky (plus, I was facing that door directly). It’s very fascinating to see the different types and personalities of the butlers. Just from their appearance, you know how each character is carefully molded. Previously, only the Black Butler and Ouran High School Host Club came to my mind. They surprised me with more – the Ore-sama (the overly-confident, self-centered), the bashful shinjin (aka newbie), the vampire, the friendly uncle in your neighbourhood… so eye opening!
All in all, this was a one-of-a-kind experience which I’ll never forget. I loved how they paid attention not only to the atmosphere, but equally much thoughts on the quality of food and service. I enjoyed myself so thoroughly. Ended on a sweet note too, since I was served by this very adorable slant eye butler nearing the end (it’s a pity I didn’t catch his name!).
It is highly advisable to make your reservation before making your way down. You simply fill a form on their website and await a confirmation email. Knowing Japanese is definitely advantageous in navigating through the website, since most of it is in Japanese.
Last but not least, you can check out their merchandise store situated diagonally across the cafe. It’s got official photographs, books, teas, pin badges, etc.
(4.5/5) Unique and unforgettable. It was an amazing and complete experience from end-to-end!
3-12-12 Higashi Ikkebukuro
Seiwa Building B1F
Toshima 170-0013, Tokyo Prefecture
(About 10 minutes walk from Ikkebukuro Station)
Mon-Sun: 10.30am – 9.20pm
+ 81 3-5957-1555