Kyushokutoban: School cafeteria chic

Kyushokutoban: School cafeteria chic

This nostalgic theme restaurant based on the idea of school lunches is the premium eating experience for the young at heart
Kyushokutoban
Kyushokutoban offers six set meals, including karaage fried chicken, ginger pork, hamburg steaks and nanban chicken (with tartar sauce).

Maid cafés may have come to epitomize the extremes of Tokyo theme restaurants, but those otaku-friendly landmarks are only one example of the city's appetite for eclectic, other-worldly establishments. And maid cafés were definitely not the first eateries with a cute theme. 

Kyushokutoban, which means "school lunch duty," has been running strong for well over a decade. The name refers to the Japanese custom of having elementary school kids dish out lunch for their peers in the cafeteria. Here, the waitresses play the part of the serving students, and the comfort food dishes appear on stainless steel trays accompanied by glass bottles of milk. The menus are written on chalkboards, the chairs are small and wooden, and the wall decorations make heavy use of colored construction paper. Kyushokutoban is Japan's greatest source of school cafeteria chic. 

Unlike maid cafes, however, Kyushokutoban's appeal doesn't require a fetish for pink smocks. Nostalgia is the real commodity here. Moreover, it's nostalgia for a time that everyone who grew up in Japan can share -- regardless of subculture affiliation, gender or even generation.

KyushokutobanA waitress at Kyushokutoban."More than just eating and taking in the atmosphere of the restaurant, we hope customers are reminded of their own youthful days, the lunches they ate at school and the fun times they had," says Kyushokutoban spokesperson Takao Kataigi. 

A number of celebrities (yes, even SMAP leader Nakai-kun) have cheerfully slurped up Kyushokutoban's childhood fare for TV and magazines. 

For those who did not grow up in Japan, the restaurant answers the question: What kind of foods did Japanese kids eat at school? Think curry stew, fried chicken and soft noodles with meatball soup.

The only difference between a real school cafeteria and Kyushokutoban, which stays open until 11pm, is that at the latter you can wash your meal down with a beer. But to keep with the childhood theme, Kyushokutoban also has cocktails inspired by Snow White, Momo Taro and other fairy tale figures.

Kyushokutoban: Moto Asakusa 1-4-4, Taito-ku, tel. 03 3847 0537, Mon-Sat 11:30am-2pm, 6pm-11pm, www.kyusyokutoban.com