“So a reservation is required to enter the tea room? We can’t take a look?” These were the questions I overheard a patriarch asking the hostess of Hello Kitty Grand Café while I was entering the Bow Room behind the guarded white door. As the café is a Japanese establishment, “bimyou” or “bimyō” (微妙), whose definitions include subtle, delicate, difficult, complex, tricky, doubtful, dicey, iffy, and so on, was the Japanese adjective that came to mind at that moment. I asked exactly the same questions the first time I was there a year ago – I felt for all Hello Kitty fans who came all the way but were denied entrance.
The Bow Room appears more spacious in the 1,000-plus Yelp photos. Upon entering I was most delighted not by the ubiquitous Hello Kitty motifs but by the pink walls, which exuded a soothing aura. At 10 a.m., the tea room — fully booked — was bustling like Chinatown restaurants serving dim sum on the weekends. It was that potpourri of mild hubbub, peculiar elegance, and kawaii-ness that made the one-hour drive on the freeway the second time worthwhile. The cozy space could be magical to anyone who likes Hello Kitty even a little!
A few minutes ago I re-examined the tea room’s online menu. The dessert assortment and tea selection, traditional and conservative, do not seem to have changed since my visit. In the evening the space is converted into a bar serving Hello Kit-tea (Japanese whiskey, jasmine tea, lime, depaz syrup, yuzu, salted cream), Pink Bow (gin, raspberry, lemon, Licor 43, aquafaba), Berry Kawaii (gin, blueberry, aquafaba, citrus, orgeat), etc. To entice me to re-visit, I will need a more iconoclastic list of teas.