Back in the “halcyon days” of 2017, I visited the now defunct Hello Kitty Café in Myeongdong, Seoul.
Created by Yoko Shimizu, the instantly recognisable, ridiculously kawaii
( かわいい ) character of Hello Kitty debuted at the Sanrio company in 1974.
First appearing on a coin purse, the character now adorns everything from clothing to cakes, planes (like EVA Air’s A330 airbus) and even panty liners (that’s when you know you’ve really made it).
And those are just a handful of the officially licensed products. Type “Hello Kitty” into Amazon or eBay and you’ll quickly be bombarded with all sorts of random garbage featuring a counterfeit version of the pink-bowed, pointy-eared, whiskered, little girl.
And, by the way, you did read that right, Hello Kitty is a little girl:
Her real name is Kitty White…she was born in southern England on November 1, 1974. She is a Scorpio and blood type A.Sanrio Spokesman,
Unlike Ms White, I am not a little girl and yet I was ridiculously, nay unreasonably, excited to visit to the Hello Kitty Café whilst in South Korea.
I had high expectations for my visit, expecting the place to be filled with art, memorabilia, costumed characters and even a stained glass window or two.
The reality fell a little short.
Positioned atop a row of stores and accessible via a hot pink staircase, the Hello Kitty Café turned out to be nothing more than, um, a small café. Albeit, one with hot pink walls, vinyl booths and a wall of souvenir t-shirts, mugs and plush toys.
It was, in a word: underwhelming.
And yet, I still had hope. It was a café after all. Maybe the food would redeem my visit.
So, how was it?
Well, I can honestly say this was one of the best-looking lattes I’ve ever ordered.
As for the Croque Monsieur, I’ll simply say: you don’t come to Korea for the cheese…
and leave it at that.
If you enjoyed this article, why not read about the (slightly) more entertaining Myeongdong Cat Café in Seoul?
Or Taiwan’s nightmare-fuel-for germaphobes Modern Toilet restaurant.