Thunderbirds Cafe is go!

Daniel Robson tries a theme restaurant with no strings attached

Thunderbirds Cafe

Well, it only took 47 years, but finally Tracy Island has come to life in Tokyo in the form of the charming Thunderbirds Cafe. A collaboration with Pasela, the karaoke operator behind the Dragon Quest-themed Luida’s Bar in Roppongi, Thunderbirds Cafe is located in Tokyo’s old downtown area, close to Ochanomizu and Jinbocho stations – a world away from the hustle and bustle of the more central Shibuya or Shinjuku areas.

It nails the vibe of the 1960s TV show perfectly. Clambering down the stairs among dense faux-foliage to the restaurant’s basement entrance – a lavish red leather door – visitors are greeted by a spacious hall decked out in thrall to International Rescue, those pioneering puppets who saved the world week in, week out. All the music is taken from the show, a mix of tropical tiki pop and dramatic adventure scores, and mute TV screens show episodes on loop.

Thunderbirds used to have a strong following in Japan, leading to the spinoff anime series Scientific Rescue Team TechnoVoyager on Fuji TV in 1982; music from the show has been covered by countless rock, metal and jazz bands. But in 2012 it’s not such a hot property. I ask a young waitress whether she had heard of the show before starting work at the Thunderbirds Cafe and she replies, “I knew of Thunderbirds a bit because my mum and dad were big fans, but working here has been… an education.”

Thunderbirds Cafe

The cafe was put together at the behest of publisher DeAgostini, whose Thunderbirds DVD-and-booklet partwork series shifts some 25,000 copies a month in Japan; the cafe thus exists to help boost sales, and opened in June for “at least” one year.

So that explains why. But even as a promotional exercise, DeAgostini and Pasela have really designed this place with care. Adorning one wall is a series of five video frames, just like in Jeff Tracy’s lounge, containing portraits of his sons Scott, Virgil, John, Gordon and Alan Tracy that occasionally sputter to life in glorious Supermarionation. Models of Thunderbirds 1 to 5 and various sets are everywhere – in recesses on the walls, hidden in the ceiling, resting on the cocktail bar – while the tropical resort theme extends to the staff wearing flowers in their hair.

Thunderbirds Cafe

The drinks menu features cocktails adorned with cute palm-tree-shaped muddlers, ice cream floats, a Brains special cola laced with popping candy and, befitting of International Rescue, a selection of beers from all around the world.

But the food is the fun part: The star attraction is the Tracy Island Loco Moco (980 yen (£7.85), a Hawaiian-style hamburger dish sculpted as International Rescue’s secret Pacific Ocean base, with a smoky barbecue sausage and some sort of deep-fried fish-paste stick poking up ready for launch.

The Thunderbird 1 Nama Haru Maki (680 yen (£5.50)), meanwhile, is a portion of Thai fresh spring rolls arranged into the shape of the iconic rocket, with a prawn head as its nose cone and served with a tangy piquant dipping sauce.

Thunderbirds Cafe

On leaving, I’m handed a stamp card – visit five times to receive a surprise gift. The numbers on the stamp card run “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” – another little detail that almost tempts me to buy a couple of issues of the DeAgostini partwork, which is of course on sale at the cafe. It’s nice to see International Rescue so well represented here, bringing Supermarionation to the Super Mario nation.

Manga UK release Black Clover and Boruto this week!

Manga UK release Black Clover and Boruto this week!

Black Clover: Season Two Part TwoBroken but not defeated. Now even broken arms can stop Asta! But when his injuries are beyond healing magic, this could mean the end of his journey. Except his magic is never giving up! Together, with his friends, they head to the...

Attack On Titan The Final Season Trailer Revealed

Attack On Titan The Final Season Trailer Revealed

A brand-new trailer has just landed for the Final Season of Attack on Titan! MAPPA, the studio behind Granblue Fantasy Season 2, Zombie Land Saga, and more recently, Listeners, will be taking the helm for this final epic season. Check out the trailer:   About...

What is a Devil Fruit?

What is a Devil Fruit?

Despite the scary name, Devil Fruit isn’t the fruit of the Devil. They are mystical fruits that, when eaten, grant you incredible abilities. The downside? You lose the ability to swim, which is fairly fatal if you’re sailing the blue seas! There are three types of...

Manga UK release That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime this week!

Manga UK release That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime this week!

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Season One Part Two Champion of monsters Rimuru Tempest ends the orc war and earns the esteemed title as Slime Chancellor. As his blobbiness presides over a newfound nation, he’s got more work to do than give names and kick...

Who are the Straw Hat Pirates?

Who are the Straw Hat Pirates?

The Straw Hat Pirates, The Straw Hats, The Mugiwara Pirates, The Straw Hat Crew. There are several names that the main pirate band of One Piece go by as they continue their quest to find the fabled One Piece and ascend into Pirate legend! But who exactly is this well...

Welcome to One Piece

Welcome to One Piece

One Piece is one of the longest-running anime and manga series of all time, and it’s one that continuously shocks, surprises, and delights fans from all over the world. If you’re looking to set sail into the East Blue, then here’s all you have to know to begin your...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This