Alice in Wonderland restaurant – Shinjuku

The book ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that was written by Lewis Carrol and published in 1865, filled with poetry and symbolism, considered one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre and riddled with mathematical pondering, is a dreadful bore.

I abandoned the children’s classic before reaching chapter five, frustrated that I found the original publication of one of my favourite stories so unbearably dull. Maybe it’s because the book was published almost 150 years ago, rendering the language extremely archaic, but I just couldn’t find flow in those pages.

Every sentence was agony.

That’s why I’m forever grateful to Disney for bringing the story to life in animation, and happy that places like the Alice in Wonderland restaurant exist, as they allow you to experience the magic of the story without the drudgery.

Diamond Dining

The Alice in Wonderland restaurant in Shinjuku is one of four Alice-themed restaurants that have been opened by Diamond Dining – a company that focuses on ‘guest pleasure’ by providing a snippet of ‘undaily life’ in a setting where concept and space are carefully incorporated into interior design.

Diamond Dining even offer a special project team – ‘Team Fantasy‘ – that is composed of the businesses top employees to help new restaurant owners realise unique theme ideas. Their English website is averagely translated and I found this Engrish gem when I was researching:

“Always we will go on try to create the restaurant that concept, space and story are incorporated in the interior design, service and cuisine everywhere with excitement and throb.”

Hee hee! Throb!

I’m so mature.

Diamond Dining worked with Fantastic Design Works Co to create the aesthetic of the Alice restaurants.

Fantastic Design Works Co

Fantastic Design Works Co (FDW) is a Japanese interior design company. Established in 2001 and presided over by Katsunori Suzuki, FDW specialize in other-wordly interior design and have created visual treats such as Le Club de Tokyo,

Le Club de Tokyo Japan travel clubbing Fantastic Design Works JaPlanning

1.

restaurant Alux,

Alux restaurant Tokyo Japan travel eating out JaPlanning

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and restaurant Rin

Rin Tokyo eating out Japan travel Fantastic Design Works JaPlanning

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along with many other incredible and unique designs.

Idol Magazine interviewed President Suzuki regarding his career and work with FDW over the past ten years. Unsurprisingly it’s an interesting read.

Suzuki, like Hayao Miyazaki, sees value in taking wide and varied inspiration from the world to feed artistic vision. He tells young architects: ‘do something others might think of as silly and meaningless to broaden your horizons’ and reminds them to ‘purposefully keep a certain distance from what you like’ to enable them to ‘see the whole picture.’

Alice in Wonderland

The ‘Alice in Picture Book’ fantasy restaurant is no exception in FDW’s impressive portfolio. The 2,245 square foot space is divided into various scenes from the 1951 Disney animation. It features dramatic designs brought to life with a psychedelic yet subtle colour palette.

Finding the restaurant is a little like going down the rabbit-hole as it’s tucked away in the basement of the Odakyu HALC building. After winding down many flights of stairs, passing the cleaner’s area and wondering if we were in entirely the wrong place, we finally found the Alice restaurant.

In true form, the restaurant was immediately recognisable as the fantastical ‘Alice’ universe.  The reception area appears as a giant library with the service desk perfectly styled as a stack of hugely oversized books. The automatic sliding door is a life-size replica of the Alice in Wonderland book cover, accented by an illuminated heart.

How exciting!

Alice in Wonderland entrance Tokyo HALC Odakyu building Japan JaPlanning

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[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]

Alice in Wonderland restaurant entrance service desk Shinjuku Tokyo Japan JaPlanning

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We entered through the sliding book-door into a dimmed hallway, draped in lush red curtains with golden trim, and asked for a table for two.

As we were lead to our table we passed private dining booths that imitated the croquette maze from the Disney animation. The little grass-green booths were decorated with delicate hearts and diamonds that contrasted beautifully with the black and white checkered floor.

Croquette maze Alice in Wonderland restaurant Shinjuku Tokyo Japan JaPlanning

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Continuing through the restaurant we passed black and red seats, accented with pink fuzzy cushions, surrounding glossy tables that imitated giant-sized playing cards. We were seated in the Queen of Hearts dining area behind the grass maze booths. Next to us was a dining table topped with an incredible chandelier-like structure made of hearts:

Alice in Wonderland restaurant shinjuku tokyo Japan diamond dining JaPlanning

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[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]

Alice in Wonderland restaurant shinjuku Tokyo Japan Fantastic Design Works JaPlanning

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[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]

We were left to settle in for a while before being offered our menu. It was the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen – an imitation of the Alice in Wonderland book with a delicate heart-shaped locket on the side:

Alice in Wonderland restaurant shinjuku menu Tokyo Japan JaPlanning

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[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]

All of the menu items are styled according to the characters, places and events of the book and movie. I can’t recall all of the options now, and obviously there was only so much we could eat, but as you can see here the food is highly stylised and beautifully presented:

Alice in Wonderland food presentation Shinjuku Tokyo Japan JaPlanning

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Deliciously gorgeous!

They also offer a range of unique ‘Alice’ cocktails. Monique and I ordered a couple and decided to share a Caesar salad and a three-cheese ‘Cheshire Cat’ tail (which is essentially a pizza).

Alice in Wonderland cocktails Shinjuku Tokyo Japan

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[Mnq Nielsen Photograffiti]

Then something strange happened.

When we received our Caeser salad we were greeted by a waitress, dressed in the likeness of Alice and wearing huge contact lenses, who asked us if she could sing for us. We agreed – our curiosity, piqued.

Before she started her song she presented us with each ingredient of the salad for us to approve. Then, as she was mixing all of the ingredients together, she asked us to clap a beat while she sang. The fact that we’d arrived very early for dinner (5.30-6pm), and there was only one other table occupied at the time, made the entire experience just that little bit stranger.

When Alice had finished her song, we applauded and thanked her and she left us to eat our meal, a little bit dazed from the oddness of being wooed with a salad-song.

Our food was tasty but trashy – heavy in salt, sugar, fat and gluten – standard chain-restaurant dining quality. We finished by sharing a Cheshire Cat dessert:

Alice in Wonderland restaurant dessert Shinjuku Tokyo Japan JaPlanning

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[Mnq Nlsn Photograffiti]

I was a bit skeptical of this dessert at first because, as you can see, it contains cornflakes. I’d never really thought of cornflakes as a dessert before, but I’ll admit that the texture they brought to the dish was amazing and Monique and I devoured it quickly. To finish we enjoyed another cocktail and let our food digest before heading back to our hotel.

Our visit to the Alice in Wonderland restaurant was a unique experience and something I remember as being a soothing departure from what had been a somewhat stressful day. We walked a lot that day, and by the time we reached the restaurant we were both tired and footsore, but our time there felt restorative and fun. I think Diamond Dining and Fantastic Design Works achieved their goal of providing an experience of ‘undaily life!’

And while the Alice in Wonderland book is hardly gripping, I doubt you’ll be bored for even a second at Shinjuku’s Alice restaurant.

Next post: Our visit to Odaiba

Until next time,

Kally & Mon.

Visiting the Alice in Wonderland restaurant

The ‘Alice in Picture Book’ fantasy restaurant is located in the basement of the Odakyu HALC building and is extremely close to the Yamanote and Seibu Shinjuku stations:

Alice in Wonderland restaurant shinjuku yamanote food Japan Tokyo travel JaPlanning maps

Access map for Alice in Wonderland

The address is:

〒 160-0021
Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 1-6-2
T-wing building B2F

When you approach the building, look for the entrance to Bic Camera and then proceed downstairs until you find this sign:

Alice in Wonderland Shinjuku HALC building sign neon pink Japan Tokyo JaPlanning

Come join the tea party!

Opening hours are:

17:00 to 2:00 Mon-Thu
17:00 to 4:00 Friday, Saturday and holidays before
17:00 to 23:30 Sundays and holidays

Sources:

  1. Lindsay Sartoris
  2. Tokyo Excess
  3. Idol Mag
  4. Diamond Dining
  5. Fantastic Design Works
  6. Wikipedia

Image Credits:

[Feature Image Credit: Monique Nielsen]

[Image Credit (1,2,3): Fantastic Design Works]

[Image Credit (5,6): Gaijin Pot]

[Image Credit (4,7,8,9,11,12): Monique Nielsen]

[Image Credit (10): Alice in Picture Book fantasy restaurant]

What’s your favourite themed restaurant in Japan?

7 thoughts on “Alice in Wonderland restaurant – Shinjuku

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  2. I have really been going back and forth on whether or not to go here on my upcoming trip to Japan. I absolutely love Alice in Wonderland but I don’t think my boyfriend would enjoy it much. Were most of the customers women?

    • Hi Imjapan,

      We were at the restaurant very early in the evening so there weren’t many other people around yet *but* the other patrons of Alice in Wonderland while we visited was actually a huge group of businessmen! I think it’s more about the novelty and the feeling of stepping out of the real world and into a fantasy land that makes AiW restaurant worth it. I’d say even if your boyfriend doesn’t love AiW, he’ll still love the restaurant. Besides – you’re on holiday! In my day-to-day life I’m not really all about eating whole baby octopus, with their little eyes lookin’ back at me, or bathing naked with strangers but in Japan it just seemed natural ;D Thanks for the comment 🙂

      .K.

      • Thanks so much for your detailed reply! I showed my boyfriend the pictures of the restaurant on your blog and tried to reassure him that a chunk of their clientele appeared to be salarymen. His mouth remained in a straight line the whole time and I don’t think it’s happening. Oh well, I got him to take me to a New Kids on The Block concert last month so I guess he’s done his good deed for 2013!

      • Ah that’s a shame! But never say never – once you’re in Japan and perhaps, once wandering around Shinjuku, he might be in a more inquisitive mood. Keep it on your ‘possible’ list for sure!

        I’m so jealous that you’re leaving for Japan soon! Writing about it makes me want to go back so hard. It was such a lovely place 🙂

        Can’t wait to read your adventures!

        .K.

  3. I will definitely keep it on the list. He doesn’t know that it’s at Odakyu…..so maybe I can lure him in there by telling him that I REALLY need pictures of their basement for my blog! Yes, I’m getting extra excited for my trip now that it’s less than a month away! I appreciate your reading my blog!

  4. Pingback: Tips for visiting Japan – Part IV – Tokyo | JaPlanning

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