By Irene Wang
TOKYO – Japanese fans of the sci-fi hit “Stranger Things” can chow down on demonic pasta and rock out to retro 1980s tunes at a pop-up cafe inspired by the Netflix Inc horror drama.
The shop, a partnership with local restaurant chain Pronto Corp, recently extended its run in the fashionable Shibuya district of Tokyo several months amid overwhelming demand. “Stranger Things” has remained one of the streamer’s top 10 shows in Japan since the release of its fourth season in May.
The interior has replicas of shops and sets from the show, set in fictional U.S. town of Hawkins, Indiana, along with its dark-mirror underworld that the pre-teen protagonists call the “Upside Down.”
Patrons can take pictures next to the drama’s signature Demogorgon monster while songs from the show, such as Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” play in the background.
Diners can nosh on food inspired by the show, such as squid-ink pasta arranged like the monster’s head or the waffles craved by the psychically powered star character, Eleven.
To reduce the risk spreading COVID-19, now battering Japan in record infections, the cafe requires visitors to make a reservation and only about 20 are allowed inside every hour.
“Every day at midnight, I have been trying to book a table on my phone,” said 29-year-old mother Kimiko Nakae. “Finally there’s an opening today because someone had cancelled the reservation.”
Tokyo has a long tradition of themed restaurants and cafes, featuring everything from ninja waiters and exotic animals to vampire-inspired cuisine.
But like many tourist-oriented businesses, the sector has been hard hit by the pandemic. The Lockup, a chain of haunted prison eateries, ended a 23-year run when its final location closed last month, joining the fate of the famous Robot Restaurant, a gaudy music and dance spectacle in the red-light district of Kabukicho that closed in March 2020.
(Reporting by Irene Wang and Rocky Swift; Editing by William Mallard)