Hello Kitty collectibles safely tucked inside the cashier area

After The Hype, How Is Manila’s Hello Kitty Café?

As a Hello Kitty fan, I waited with bated breath for the Hello Kitty Café to open in Uptown Place, Bonifacio Global City. I first spotted the “opening soon” sign in 2016, and my media friends told me they’d open in March that year. It didn’t happen. Rumors circulated that they’d open in early 2017, and then pushed further to summer. Fans were getting impatient. When they finally opened their doors for the soft opening in July, non-celebrities flocked to Hello Kitty Café…

…only to be turned away.

Hello Kitty Café Manila finally opened its doors on July 2017.

There were endless excuses from the receptionists, such as “For VIPs only” and “Closed for a private event.” How could a family-friendly Sanrio character be so snooty all of a sudden? There was a door sign that said they accept reservations via phone call. I tried for weeks and nobody ever picked up the phone.

The al fresco section

I wasn’t the only one frustrated. People flocked to their official Facebook page to air out their grievances. My circle of Hello Kitty-obsessed friends shared stories of being turned away from the restaurant even if there were only one or two tables occupied throughout the day.

But I badly wanted to give this café a chance. As weeks went by and I heard nothing but poor reviews from friends who were finally able to get a seat, I still had high hopes.

I finally entered Hello Kitty Café in mid-September, two months after they opened. My verdict:

Sad Kitty.

Look closely to see that the furniture decors are already falling apart. See the broken kitty bow on the seat?
Hello Kitty collectibles safely tucked inside the cashier area

For a restaurant that’s new, some of their decor are already falling apart. There’s a display of Hello Kitty desserts, but with limited supplies. Some of the meals I wanted to order were not available, and I was asked to choose something else. There’s a shelf of Hello Kitty collectibles—none of which are for sale. Where’s the overwhelming kawaii feeling?

It seems that Hello Kitty Cafés around the world are struggling to impress. If you Google Hello Kitty trucks and pop-up cafés, you’ll find that there are mixed reviews.

As one would expect with restaurants that use patented characters, the price range here is higher than the average restaurant. ₱210-295 for frappes, ₱385 for a salad, ₱295-495 for a sandwich, ₱365-565 for a pasta dish, ₱260-600 for a slice of cake.

Did the flavor of the food at least make up for the high price? No. All of the dishes we ordered were bland and dry. The ingredients didn’t look or taste fresh. For the presentation, there’s one Hello Kitty or ribbon cardboard cutout per main course. If your order includes bread, there’s a toasted etching of Hello Kitty.

Spaghetti bolognese, ₱365
Burgeresse, ₱495

Shrimp bisque, ₱265
Chicken schnitzel, ₱420
Dessert in a bird cage

Some redeeming factors: The employees are friendly, an improvement from the feedback I heard during their first month. There’s a cute birdcage theme, as seen in selected tables that make it look like you’re eating inside a giant birdcage, plus desserts served in a little birdcage.

Would I ever visit Hello Kitty Café regularly after this? No. But if they heed these suggestions from true-blue Hello Kitty fans, we might have a change of heart:

1. Include Hello Kitty merchandize for sale. Remember when ’90s kids spent all their parents’ money in Gift Gate?
2. Increase your supply. It’s such a turn off when the waitress tells you to order something else because the top 3 things you want are not available.
3. Serve fresher ingredients. We can tell if they’ve been sitting in the fridge for days and you just reheated it.
4. Invest in more Hello Kitty utensils and plates. Eating from cute Hello Kitty chinaware might help us forget that the food is subpar.
5. Polish your interiors. It’s only been a few weeks and they’re already falling apart.

Please replenish supplies.

Heck, this kitty had a better experience ordering her Mcdonald’s Hello Kitty Happy Meal, and it cost only ₱134.

If you overwhelm us with high quality Hello Kitty-ness, we promise to come back and spend more!

Hello Kitty Café is located at 3/F Uptown Place Mall, 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines. Tel. no. +63945-305-0713.

October 17, 2017