This fall I asked my Japanese husband about good American-style pies in Tokyo. "Anna Miller’s", he replied almost immediately. We opened their web page and got utterly disappointed. More than 20 locations of this chain restaurant had been closed years, if not decades ago. Anna Miller’s in Takanawa Wing turned out to be the last of the Mohicans.
Anna Miller’s is a chain restaurant from Hawaii, famous for breakfasts and pies. I was planning to have only a piece of cherry pie and black coffee with free refills. In the end, I opted for pancake brunch with sausage, and the dessert course came at half the price.
The set is only available on weekdays. My bill added up to 1500 yen.
If you compare the prices of Anna Miller’s pies with the average cake/pie prices in Tokyo, you will be pleasantly surprised. The pies are American-sized, which means big portion. But if you think carefully, there is only one reason for that: the price (and quality) of ingredients must be lower. Surprisingly, it doesn’t make much difference when you order a piece of pumpkin pie; but I didn’t enjoy my cherry pie. It looked not so delicious as the cherries were swimming in a gooey substance which turned out to be corn starch.
In my opinion, it goes nowhere around pies at Bubby’s, especially their Michigan sour cherry pie. I can’t say anything about cheesecakes at Anna Miller’s, but as far as I understood it is one of the popular choices for Japanese young girls. So you must try the cheesecake if you are there.
No one can be completely sure why they had to close their numerous branches, but one thing is crystal clear: Anna Miller’s Japan is not in vogue anymore. The waitresses looked cute and trendy in their trademark uniforms for at least two decades, which is great for Tokyo and its fashion fancies. At that time an ultra-short skirt, apron and a bodice dress code was something! Many male customers became patrons certainly not because they liked eating pies. It was a place where otaku could unleash their imagination at least a bit. The iconic uniform made a strong influence on Japanese popular culture, inspiring many manga artists, anime and game creators. At the same time, Anna Miller’s has always been a diner with Amish-themed decorations and strong family values. You can even spot a book about Amish as you wait at the entrance.
Sometimes Anna Miller’s is called a proto-maid café. It was the first place that banned taking pictures of their waitresses. Maid cafes started to open in Tokyo only at the dawn of 21st century. Waitresses’ uniforms got more elaborate and French; Akihabara replaced Anna Miller’s in the hearts of otaku. Now maid cafes are also visited by women, couples, and even tourists. Nevertheless, no family with kids would go there for a peaceful Sunday breakfast. They might go to Anna Miller’s if there is no other, lower-priced family restaurant on their way. Waitresses at Anna Miller’s are not so young anymore, and a touch less attractive (at least the ones I happened to see). However, the nostalgic atmosphere of good old 1980's still lingers in the air.
Another reason Anna Miller’s finally failed in Japan may sound simpler. America is a nation of pie-lovers, although Hawaii can’t be compared to the Mainland in that sense. The Japanese prefer cakes. A typical Japanese person rarely indulges in a piece or two of homemade pie. Moreover, most local people associate only one fruit/filling with pies, and it is the ubiquitous apple.
Yet nothing is better than a leisurely breakfast on a holiday. Merry Christmas everyone!
Address: 2F Wing Takanawa 4-10-18 Takanawa, Minato, Tokyo
Opening Hours: 8 am – 11 pm. (Last order 22:20)
Access: 1 min. walk from JR, Keikyu Shinagawa Station, Takanawaguchi Exit