Last month, I had the pleasure of attending afternoon tea service at the new Hello Kitty Grand Cafe in Irvine, California. Am I a fan of Hello Kitty? Not really. But am I a fan of anything and everything cat-related? Of course! So, as soon as I heard about the new cafe, I had to experience it with some fellow cat-loving friends.
Quite the Popular Place
First off, let me tell you that the cafe is very popular, and it took two months for us to get reservations. Before the cafe even opened for business, reservations were booked solid for 30 days out. They eventually allowed guests to book 60 days out, which is how we finally made our reservation for early December.
Hello Kitty Grand Cafe
Located in an outdoor shopping center, the Hello Kitty shop front is pretty basic. And peeking in the doors, one wouldn’t know about the tea service (which turns into a cocktail lounge in the evening hours) without advance knowledge. While reservations are suggested (pretty much required) for afternoon tea, mall shoppers can pop in at any time to purchase baked goods or order drinks.
The inside of the quick service cafe portion is what you’d expect – cute, pink and filled with Hello Kitty decor.
And the best part – it smells delicious! Patrons can order freshly baked cookies, cakes, donuts and seasonal items. The cafe offers hot and iced drinks (coffee and tea), and they also sell Hello Kitty wine.
The Bow Room
Upon arrival (and after drooling over the baked goods), we checked in for our tea service, and then we were ushered into The Bow Room. The dining area is fairly small. I estimate that the room caps out at around 20 or so, which is likely why it was so hard to make a reservation.
Unfortunately, our group of four was seated at the bar instead of a regular table. While that detracted from our conversation, it certainly didn’t detract from enjoying the tea and food. I also got to watch as some items were prepared – like the appetizer of strawberries and fresh whipped cream in the video below.
After enjoying the delicious starter, our tea was served, quickly followed by the sweet and savory food items. If they could put Hello Kitty on it, they did. Check out the butter!
The food was served on a three-tiered Hello Kitty tray, which served two guests. Items included a pretzel sandwich with salmon (which they modified for me since I’m a vegetarian), egg salad in a cone, a cucumber cream cheese sandwich and a pesto tart. The sweet treats included various cakes, macarons and a scone.
It was so much food that I didn’t finish it all. I took home two of the little cakes to enjoy later.
So, would I return for another round of afternoon tea at Hello Kitty Grand Cafe? You bet I would! While it’s not a cheap outing (currently $55.00 per person), it was definitely a fun day. And while I was nervous that it might be more novelty than good food, that certainly wasn’t the case.
One of the friends I attended with is a fan of afternoon tea (even having enjoyed actual tea service in England), and she thought the Hello Kitty afternoon tea held up pretty well. She did point out that nothing can compare to clotted cream (instead of the regular butter we were served). And the scones weren’t as big and soft as they could’ve been. But overall, my afternoon tea-loving friend enjoyed the food at Hello Kitty.
And yes, I had to purchase some of the baked goods on my way out.
If you’re visiting Orange County, California, you might want to check out Hello Kitty Grand Cafe. Are there any fun and unique cafes like this in your area?