Unicorn Cafe

Unicorn Cafe

Tragically, no actual unicorns, but a great many toy ones and enough rainbows to make your head spin. Welcome to the Unicorn Café in Bangkok!

This is hidden down a side soi off Sathorn Rd, and was surprisingly hard to find, but once you are engulfed by the swirling pastels of the decorations, you wonder how you could possibly have missed it. There’s even a large plastic unicorn in the window which looks like it escaped from a circus carousel.

This is definitely a destination for young Asian girls. You can dress up in a unicorn onesie, lounge with large plush unicorn toys on pink sofas and take selfies to your heart’s content. There are rainbow coloured cakes and drinks on the menu, unicorn souvenirs to buy, and everything including the floor and ceiling is a riot of swirls, stars and –obviously – unicorns.

I did order a cake and a drink, although since they were a triumph of decoration over taste, I did not actually consume very much of either. It was all highly entertaining, however, and well worth a visit.

Hedgehog Cafe

Harinezumi means ‘hedgehog’ in Japanese (actually it means needle mouse, which is fairly descriptive…) and Harry seems to be the oversized hedgehog who rules the roost in the Harajuku hedgehog café.

Visitors queue up to spend half an hour admiring, feeding, and – if they let you – playing with the couple of dozen hedgehogs who live here.

You might think that hedgehogs are not the best creatures to pick up and cuddle, but leather gloves are provided to protect your hands. And it is just as well, because you soon discover that the prickles are the least of your worries when it comes to playing with these shy creatures – however gentle you might be, a grumpy hedgehog has no qualms when it comes to pooing in all directions.

Half an hour (at the fairly steep price of ¥1,400) is actually long enough, because the best you can hope from your hedgehogs is that rather than struggling to escape they will curl up and go to sleep, possibly in your hands.

But the café is clean and bright, the price includes a drink you can get for yourself from the line of vending machines at the back, and the walls are covered with amusing posters explaining all about hedgehogs and how to hold them. Friendly staff will even take your photo, as it is very hard to manage a creditable selfie with 2 hedgehogs in your hand.

Most of the animals live in glass sided tanks set into the counters, so you can see them amble round at their eye level rather than just peering in from above. Strict rules mean you must disinfect your hands before holding them, and also keep your hands below the top of the tanks so there is no chance of accidentally dropping a hedgehog to the floor.

Small tubs of worms, and tweezers with which to handle them, mean you can feed your hedgehogs as well as simply pet them, and whilst I was there the café was full of happy customers. Whether the hedgehogs were happy as well is not something I can be sure of, as you can’t have the sort of personal interaction with them you might get with a cat or dog. But it was a quirky and interesting way of spending half an hour, and a welcome break from the freezing cold of February in Tokyo.


Art Cafe

Category : Other

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I have mentioned Arteastique before, as they serve a fascinating range of teas including medicinal, alcoholic and ice cream float varieties. The Art part of the name, however, is something else again.

Half the café is taken up by a studio crammed with canvases on easels. For S$48 for a 2 hour session (including a free tea, of course) you can help yourself to all the paints and brushes you want and create your very own masterpiece.

Daughter #2 and I tried this out one afternoon in the holidays and, although neither of us is especially artistic, we had an excellent time. You can pay more and join a class, but for the most part it is just an opportunity to splash paint around and express your inner Van Gogh.

I was wondering what would happen to the finished work, and was expecting to return and collect it on a later day when it was dry. The alternative – trying to carry a 50×50 cm canvas covered in wet acrylics onto a crowded MRT train – was fairly horrifying, but the solution turned out to be ingenious.

Using a specially designed cardboard cover and a hefty stapler, the staff had our wet paintings packed up in such a way that the painted surface was completely protected yet untouched by the cardboard – I was very impressed.

My painting went straight into the recycle – it was just a therapeutic exercise after all, but it was so much fun I will definitely be back to do some more.

Sheep Cafe

Category : Other

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Cat and dog cafes used to be all the rage, but these days they are just plain passé.

Everyone is trying to outdo each other with unusual new livestock, with varying degrees of success. Racoons and owls have had their moment, but these are essentially predators, and it does not take much online research to discover what can happen when interacting with one of these creatures goes terribly wrong.

The Thanks Nature Café in Seoul, however, may have found a sensible compromise. Here you can sip your fruity tea whilst the fuzzy noses of Lala and Lulu nuzzle at you through the fence.

You can go even inside their enclosure and get up close, because these are the cleanest, most placid and harmless creatures you will probably ever have a drink with.

The sheep seem perfectly content in their space, which is technically outside but well sheltered from the elements, and a cup of tea is a bargain at 7,000 won, even for a fancy blend like the honey and pomegranate I chose, complete with boba and fruit jelly in the bottom.

What’s not to love?

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‘Toilet’ Cafe

Category : Food

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This is not one for the faint hearted, and is one of those jokes that could easily backfire.

Welcome to the Toilet Café, tucked away on the roof of a mini craft ‘mall’ in Incheon, Seoul.

There’s a very limited menu – 2 sorts of spaghetti, some interestingly shaped ‘desserts’, and a small collection of drinks, but no limit to the amount of toilet related paraphernalia decorating the place.

There are urinals packed with plants, set into the floor or serving as wash basins, stuffed ‘poo’ toys sit on every shelf and table, and poo shaped tags all over the windows carry the comments of previous customers.

To my shame, I ordered lunch here, which arrived in a miniature toilet bowl. Tasty as it was, I found this very disconcerting and had to avert my gaze and think of other things as I ate… look too hard at what is in front of you here and it could become a retch-inducing experience.

Although I did them sample a ‘poo’ cake filled with sweet bean paste, I could not face drinking latte from a toilet bowl as well. It was entertaining, but I was glad to be out in the sunshine and distracted by other things.

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Sushi Stools

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It’s always nice when cafes and restaurants make an effort to be a little different, and set themselves above the pack. In places with a huge amount of competition – like in Singapore, where the vast majority either eat out or bring home takeaway – it all helps entice a few more customers through the doors.

This particular sushi bar caught my eye because it manages to be cute and witty without going over the top. It’s in a high traffic area along with other cafes above a busy MRT station, with a public corridor running between counter and tables. Any furniture needs to be neat and small enough to tuck away easily and not impede passersby, whilst still providing a decent place to sit down and enjoy a quick snack. I think these stools do the trick perfectly.

Their drum shape is ideally suited to be turned into the classic ‘maki’-style sushi roll, dark sides to represent the ‘nori’ seaweed, a picture of rice with different fillings decorating the top. It helps that their sushi and other Japanese snacks are tasty as well as being good value, but full marks to the designer at Umi Sushi who came up with this idea.