I have to admit, a lot of what's going on here goes right over my head...
To be fair though, a 37-year old grumpy man probably isn’t the demographic that Manchester’s ‘Animaid Café’ is looking to appeal to – so I can be forgiven for not knowing entirely what’s going on.
I’m not some ignorant savage though, I do like to think that I have my finger on the pulse of most cultural phenomenon. I know quite a bit about anime and I’ve been to Tokyo – so it’s not like I’m totally lost.
Essentially, the Animaid Café in the Northern Quarter’s iconic Afflecks is a Bubble Tea joint but I can imagine that it’s nothing like what you’ve ever experienced before (unless you’re into the scene that is).
Traditionally associated with the Akihabara district in Tokyo, famous for its extensive electronics and anime related stores, the initial concept of the Maid Café came from the area’s links to visiting ‘Otaku‘ subculture – people who are interested in Japan’s various anime and manga works.
The first permanent maid café appeared in Akihabara back in 2001, and since then the idea has expanded and travelled all over the globe.
It’s certainly a unique concept, but is one that’s firmly rooted in making customers feel at home, with the maids serving up not just delicious tea, but also performing dance routines from J-Pop and selling an impressive collection of anime and manga memorabilia and clothing.
Alongside this, the Animaid Café also offers a range of Japanese food and drink products, and has a rather extensive Bubble and Fruit Tea Menu, including specials – each one designed by the maids based on their favourite anime characters.
The specials are unique to the maid who designed it, and only available when that maid is in, and when we popped in this week, Shannon and Rav were working, so we got to enjoy the Kuromi (£5); a blueberry and pudding milk tea with vanilla ice cream, tapioca and topped with whipped cream, alongside the Death Note (£5); blueberry fruit tea with cherry shaved ice and blueberry popping pearls.
In addition to the specials, you’ll also find a very impressive menu of Milk and Fruit Teas, of which there are about 100 different combinations, with extra tapioca and popping pearls a must.
In fact, the Animaid Café has been doing so well in Afflecks since opening in 2019 that they’ve recently completed a large extension, moving into the neighbouring unit and nearly tripling in size.
It’s now a fully-fledged sit in café experience, complete with tables and chairs, TV (showing the best and latest anime shows) and a dedicated ‘stage’ that’s covered top to bottom in pink flowers and neon and is the perfect place for a selfie and/or a dance for TikTok.
The Animaid Café really is Manchester’s most unique café, and is a fantastic experience all in of itself.
The fact that it also provides a safe, welcoming space and community for many people in the city is wonderful, and the fact that on top of that their teas are SO good is testament to the hardworking maids that make it all happen.
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We had a great time when we visited this week, and shall be heading back again for some more tea very soon. You should check it out too!