Themed restaurants

Tokyo offers a wide selection of themed restaurants, some rather gimmicky but some being great options for a fun night out.

The most famous of these is probably the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku. A show quite unlike anything you’ll have seen before, this is a fast and furious neon lit extravaganza of son et lumière, Japanese style. Robots, ninja, dinosaurs and girls in bikinis and glitzy outfits battle it out while lights flash and live taiko drummers create the beat alongside pumping techno music!

However, despite its name, we don’t really recommend the food (essentially just a pre-made bento lunchbox) but a visit to the show itself is likely to be a unique experience.

Ninja in Akasaka is another popular choice. Here, waiters dressed as ninja lead diners along dark winding corridors to their table, while others suddenly appear with menus and sneak in soundlessly with your food. A wandering magician goes from table to table performing excellent close up magic and sleight of hand but this won’t detract from the food, which is actually a pretty good fusion of Japanese and Western dishes.

There are a range of menu options and while Ninja is probably the most expensive themed restaurant in Tokyo, we think it may well be the best.

There are now 7 separate Alice in Wonderland themed restaurants around the capital, each with their own theme and design; Alice in a Labyrinth, Alice in a Fantasy Land, Alice in a Dancing Land to name but a few. The food is also often themed, such as the Green Caterpillar tuna and avocado sushi roll, or the cute Mock Turtle Mimosa Salad and these restaurants are particularly likely to be popular with young girls.

Alcatraz, the grandaddy of Japanese theme restaurants, kickstarted the trend over 10 years ago by capitalising on everyone’s ‘love’ of hospital food. The setting is a medical prison where you are the patient. The waitresses are dressed as the type of nurses that exist only in Benny Hill re-runs. They handcuff you, pretend to inject a giant needle into your rear, and then lock you in a cell, from where you’ll be ordering such appetising menu items as Liver Resection and Blue Curry. The cocktails are fun: the false teeth in a jar has particular bite, while others are served in syringes or even stirred with sex toys, so this isn’t a place to bring the kids. Occasionally, the staff will “accidentally” open your cell door and it’s your mission to go screaming around the restaurant in a wheelchair evading the outstretched hands of other prisoners…