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10 July 2011

Otaku Ippiki goes abroad: AKB48 Official Cafe @*SCAPE/Singapore

This report is on AKB48 Official Cafe Singapore, and my 1st report on overseas (maid?) cafes in 2011. It opened doors to the public on 25.06.2011(*10)

How is this one and only "AKB48 Official Cafe"(*1) in the world?  Here's my report.
(Note: full marks is *****)

(日本語版は、こちらへ。The Japanese version is available here.)

[Location: ****]
The location is excellent. AKB48 Official Cafe is located at *SCAPE(*2), which is next to Cineleisure Orchard mall and Mandarin Orchard(formerly known as Meritus Mandarin Hotel). If you take a MRT train, Somerset MRT Station is the nearest station. It's within walking distance from Somerset.

*SCAPE is not an ordinary commercial building. It's a youth community building run by the government (Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports). *SCAPE has lots of food outlets, youth oriented shops, and talent development schools (ex. dance schools, music schools).

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The access path to the main entrance is elevated - the 'ground' level is actually the second level.

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On the entrance of the *SCAPE(2F, not G/F), you'll see an escalator and the AKB48 Official Shop.

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When you get on/off the escalator to one floor up, the AKB48 cafe is just in front of you.

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[Atmosphere/Interior: ***]
The space of AKB cafe is very bright and rather large, tucked at the corner of 3F. The decor is minimum. You can see bare concrete slabs.

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 AKB48 cafe has 12 four-seater white tables. Thus, it can really hold 48 guests. The guest can look down a street through the bay windows, on which held AKB48 members' photo-plates(*3). If a AKB48 member visits the cafe, she will write an autograph on her own photos on the glass, and sometimes onto a backrest of a red chair (please see a photo).

When I visited AKB cafe, there were not many autographed photo plates. For visiting AKB members, AKB cafe has a small stage for events.

[Foods: **+]
(All the food/beverages are my own expense.)
When I visit AKB48 cafe, it's just in the 1st weekend of the soft-launch, after the cafe began operations on 25.06.2011.

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The menu then was very limited to items such as light meal and beverages. (please see photos).
I ordered omu-rice lunch set, including iced coffee. It costs about S$20++. I don't think that the price tag is too expensive for the prime location.

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The iced coffee is served in a clear plastic cup(like Starbucks).

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The omu-rice tastes good but the portion is rather small for a male customer.

[Staff's attitude/Service: **]
When I visited AKB cafe, it has about eight AKB48 cafe girls. The uniform is a blazer in navy blue with a checked miniskirt.(*4)

On the entrance, the staffs salute with "Irasshai Mase~[welcome]". As far as I can tell,  the staff can't speak enough Japanese to communicate with Japanese customers(*3). But, I think that it's still OK for Japanese guests since the menu is written in both English and Japanese. (*5)

Staff's attitude is very gentle/polite. However, I don't feel that they are highly organized and intensively trained. This perhaps could be a matter of time and could improve after several months.

[Overall: ***]
Although AKB48 cafe is not a meido cafe, AKB48 cafe is a good place for *SCAPE visitors. This is very ideal place for people to kill time before heading off for the next event.

[Misc. : about the proprietor]
The proprietor is SOZO, the crew behind Anime Festival Asia (Singapore Otaku event) and MMK meido cafe. I saw the same cafe manager of the MMK meido cafe in AKB48 cafe. All the photos in this article are checked up by him.

[My thought after visiting]
*SCAPE is actually a government-run multi purpose complex, and AKB48 is a Japanese idol group.
AKB Cafe is a good place. However, it looks out of the place amid in the *SCAPE . I think that SOZO will form a SG local version of AKB48 in near future. I don't think that my thought is not unreasonable. For example, MMK meido cafe in AFA-X(11.2010) had almost ten staffs. Four staffs from MMK girls had already formed a "Sea*A"(*6) in 2011, and will debut in Japanese market from a major CD label. Please see the official website for detail.

But does it have really SGP48?  No, it has too many members. Thus, SGP24? No, it's still unsustainable for long term. How about SGP12(1/4 of original AKB48)?...uum, it's maybe OK. I hope to see a debut of SGP12!



[Note]
*1) This is not the world's first AKB official cafe. According to Wikipedia-JP, Akihabara once had AKB official cafe in the AKB theatre.

*2) *SCAPE is sometimes used for youth events. The courtyard has many small events in weekends. COSMO youth parade(a yearly event) is always hold in *SCAPE .

*3) Photography is not allowed inside the cafe. The exception is for foods, drinks, and something around the table. I guess that this is partly because of prevention guests from taking photos of AKB member plates.

*4) A photo of the AKB cafe staff was taken by Japanese AKB relevant man from Japan to follow AKB stage members. Kiyomi-san(*10) stood on a good place(^^). His Japanese blog has a short photo report(incl. AKB cafe inside photo). Please check it up(unfortunately, JP-only).

*5) The Japanese on the menu, and on the official cafe website is so perfect(no errant Japanese there). The organizer must have its own Japanese native staff.

*6) Please say "She Ei". The official site has full photo-shots of the four members. If you see MMK official site(now unreachable), you will realize that all the member are stated different stage names from MMK cafe(*7).

*7) Estelle is formerly named "HAYASHI Tomomi" in MMK/2010. Beryl is as Hitomi, Wynnie is as Moe, and Valerie is as Miyu in MMK/2010.

*10) This visit is just by chance. At first, I have no plan to visit AKB cafe since I heard that the open-the doors day will be in the mid July. But an acquainted cosplayer(CN: Kiyomi) who I met in AFA-X(*11), sent me some info for AKB cafe. To my surprise, Kiyomi-san is now working for AKB cafe as initial staff. She told me the open-the-doors date:25.06.2011 . Eventually, I stayed in Singapore during the weekend. So I made up mind going to AKB cafe. You can see an official photo of AKB Cafe staff there.

*11) In AFA-X(2011), I took lots of cosplayers(please see my report in AFA-X). I had sent each photos to each cosplayers. This took long time, and rather troublesome, but I believe that an encounter is very important. In fact, encountered persons in AFA-X will lead me to some events.

[Cafe/Restaurant DATA]
Name    :  AKB48  Official Cafe Singapore
Address : *SCAPE/#03-02, 2 Orchard Link Singapore 237978
Phone   : +65 6636 9868
Business time:
        11.30AM - 21.30 [L/O 21:00]
Email : contact@akb48.com.sg
HP    : http://www.akb48.com.sg/cafe/

[Related articles]
[2010.11] Report: AFA-X(AFA 2010) sono-2: MMK meido cafe
Otaku Ippiki goes abroad: [2010.08] Maid cafe "Cafe-Matsuri" @Hong Kong
Otaku Ippiki goes abroad: [2010.04] Akiba-Kiss @Bangkok review
Otaku Ippiki goes abroad: [2009.10] Maiderland @Hong Kong review
Otaku Ippiki goes abroad: [2009.07] Torashabu @Singapore review
Otaku Ippiki goes abroad: [2009.01] Cafe Royal/T @Los Angels review
Otaku Ippiki goes abroad: [2008.10] Maid Date @Hong Kong review
Otaku Ippiki goes abroad: [2008.05] Cosafe @Singapore review
---
[09.2011 Comment]
The 1st overseas unit:JKT48(from Indonesia) was already revealed. But SCG48(Singapore Cafe Girl) established the official blog(with a member list), and the official Youtube channel.
It was also announced that SCG48 would be on the debut in the theatre on 2/F soon. Ganbare! SCG48!.

[2012 Comment]
Unfortunately, This AKB48 cafe Singapore was closed down in 2012.

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