Prepare to dine: inside Tokyo’s Dark Souls Café

Our visit to the Dark Souls café was, well, pretty dark.

The curse is a part of life itself. Would you like chips with that? Peckishness and pain go hand in hand at Tokyo’s Dark Souls Café, open until 3 April in the swanky neighbourhood of Nishi-Azabu.

And dark is the menu. Many of the dishes we nibbled at an exclusive press opening today were as black as death itself, with a variety of sauces coloured with squid ink powder for that cheering extra touch. The cafe is a collaboration between FromSoftware and Oz Café, an Australian bar and restaurant that was keen to pay homage to Dark Souls. The sequel is due in Japan on 13 March, in between the North American and European releases the same week.

“The owner is a huge Dark Souls fan,” FromSoftware’s Yasunori Ogura told us. “They put as much attention to detail into their menu as we put into our games, so it’s a good match.”

The restaurant itself is a fairly large open space with a bar running along the back wall, which at the party was lined with Estus Flasks of fruit juice and beer. In the centre was a buffet table with a selection of Dark Souls-themed dishes: Giant Rat hamburger steaks, Faeces Dumpling meatballs, Ring Of Stone onion rings, Anor Londo’s fish and chips – all of which were as dark as jet. Crack open some monkey nuts and find that they too are somehow black inside – Beans Of Darkness.

Most of the items on the menu were all stained black with squid ink – not the most appetising of effects.

Other items echo Oz Café’s roots: wild crocodile meat (complete with claw) as a cut of the Black Dragon Kalameet and gamey kangaroo in salsa sauce in place of Wyvern flesh. A mostly yellow salad of baby corn, yellow peppers, sweet corn and kabocha squash in a garlic dressing represents vegetables sliced by the Butcher. Most of the dishes we tried were pretty good, though not spectacular by Japanese standards. It’s definitely worth a taste for fans of the series though.

“We devised the menu together with Oz Café,” explained Ogura. “There are items you’ll recognise from the games, and there’s a specials menu that will change on the third of every month.” On a screen suspended above the bar, two new trailers for Dark Souls II run on a loop – both rated CERO D, or 17-plus – and since these won’t be available online until mid-January or so, the only place to see them is at the Dark Souls Café.

The first of the trailers shows previously unseen locations (such as a subterranean dungeon and a classical castle wracked with lush green vines) and story points (a beautiful woman crossing the hero’s palm with a feather), while the second reveals enemies and bosses: a mummified man, a large glowing-red demon, a dragon, a grotesquely obese mass with writhing bodies hanging from it, some sort of orc and other toothsome beasts.

Items from the Dark Souls II collector’s edition, available to preorder in Japan for 15,800 yen (£92).

Also present at the press event was the game’s co-director Yui Tanimura; still deep in the final stages of the game’s development, he understandably ducked out soon after the welcome toast. Meanwhile, a freshly minted set of Japan-only collectors’ items was on display, shown to the From staff and the press for the first time. The pieces include several die-cast weapons and shields; the limited edition set in a wooden box is available to preorder for 15,800 yen (£92).

We took out some of the shields and a sword from the luxury box; they have a satisfying heft, and the shields each have a handgrip for a figurine that will come later (different than the Warrior Knight figurine included in the Western collectors’ edition).

During the reception, maidens in robes flanked the door, clutching the beautifully bound menu book. Inside, prices are listed not in yen but in souls: 1,500 souls for the rat burger (£8.75), up to 4,800 for the Kalameet (£28); drinks start at 600 souls (£3.50) and are served on one of 10 specially made cardboard Dark Souls II coasters.

Drinks from the Dark Souls café begin at 600 souls, or £3.50.

In a discreet recess of the venue lies a mock-up bonfire, a few bones poking tastefully from its ash. It is surrounded by pieces of full-size, wearable body armour that is one of two such suits produced by publisher Bandai Namco; the other is being used in the States to promote the forthcoming sequel, worn by an especially tall actor.

As we polished off our glass ‘flask’ of beer, which was amusingly difficult to drink from, dessert was served: an Egg Carrier-based chocolate fondant cake served à la mode. After all, even the fiercest warrior deserves a sweet end to a night of bitter sorrow.

The Dark Souls Café is open until 3 April.

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