Akiba Kissa calls itself a manga cafe and event centre. While there have been similar businesses in the past, it's the only one in Ontario that stocks English mangas, combined with handcrafted specialty drinks along with a gaming room. So really, in my opinion it's more of a manga cafe and everything centre.
It's impossible not to be impressed by the sheer size of this Markham cafe. The main area is massively spacious with high ceilings and comfortable communal seating-style couches to peruse the more than 4,000 volumes of manga here. There's also a good selection of board games.
The whole thing is the brainchild of brothers Stephen and Michael, who channel their love of Japanese pop and animation culture into this business.
Admission is $15 (taxes included) and gives you one drink plus free unlimited access to all of the manga as well as the entire facility. In and out privileges are available for another $5.
The games room at the back has eight custom-built tournament-style arcade machines, running on the PlayStation 4 engine. There's Street Fighter V, King of Fighters and Gundam VS. There's also an Overwatch league, along with two TVs that are hooked up to Wii U's if you prefer your gaming Mario Kart-style.
The adjacent room is the screening room, which comfortably seats 20. A massive 110-inch projector screen and full surround sound make any anime watched here come to life.
At times, Super Smash Wii brawls take place here, taking full advantage of its eight-player setup. The space also hosts anime screenings on demand for groups and events.
And of course, what would Japanese pop culture be without interesting merchandise? Akiba KissA also has a small merchandise room, where you can buy anything from Transformers Masterpiece figures, giant Danboards, and a gold authentic Super Mario vinyl figure.
Consistent with their all-encompassing theme, the centre also welcomes cosplayers of all types. In fact, a quick glance at the main room will show you a number of impressively detailed Kigurumi masks and custom superhero masks (available to order!).
They even have a dedicated change room specifically for cosplaying, complete with a large horizontal mirror to make sure your Sailor Moon makeup is JUST right.
The main room features handcrafted drinks and desserts custom-made from scratch (Akiba Kissa has its own dedicated pastry chef).
It also serves up authentic and rare Menraku brand Japanese instant ramens ($5.99 each) such as the interestingly flavoured Yakisoba Noodle or the Japanese Tempura Udon that actually comes with a tempura-flavoured cracker.
Desserts-wise, My Tartlette Totoro ($7) is one of the best sellers here and my personal favourite. Black sesame, white vanilla, and chocolate ganache combine to make a stunningly smooth and slightly sweet dessert.
The Poop-Boy ($7) is a cheerful-looking raspberry and rose-flavoured dessert that's both fruity and smooth.
The Danboard Tofu Cheesecake ($7) is excellent for those who prefer something lighter. It's fluffy and simple, unadulterated by any additional flavours. Plus, look how cute it is!
On the other end of the flavour spectrum is the interesting Gloomy Bear ($7). With elements of chocolate, black sesame, raspberry mousse and strawberry jam on a matcha cake base, it's impressive but a bit of a flavour overload for me.
Drinks-wise, make sure to try the Flavaccino ($6), the cafe's signature drink of cappuccino with flavour steamed into the milk foam. Get the Smores Please!, a rich combination of chocolate and marshmallow that's just divine.
Those who prefer something cool should try their Custom Sodas ($4.99), which feature a mix-and-match your own flavour feature. I had the Black Rock Shooter (cola, frosted mint, and raspberry) which was really nice. With over 20 flavours, the possibilities are practically infinite.
Don't forget the Creamsicle Frappe ($6.25), a nice cold drink that brings to mind a cool creamsicle. Served with tapioca, mine had white chocolate, vanilla, and cola and is definitely a must-try.
While I'm far from a full-time otaku, it's really nice to see that Japanese pop-culture enthusiasts have a comfortable place to call home.