Fans of My Neighbour Totoro and Studio Ghibli have a new reason to visit Bangkok — the city is now home to the world’s first licensed restaurant based on the 1988 anime classic, in which two sisters befriend a giant forest spirit named Totoro.
May’s Garden House Restaurant is located on Sukhumvit Road, just a few minutes’ walk from BTS Phrom Phong station.
Aside from the restaurant inside Ghibli’s own Tokyo museum, this is the world’s first Ghibli-approved standalone eatery.
Everything about May’s is solely focused on My Neighbour Totoro.
Before you say it, we’ll say it for you: “How serious can they be about Totoro if they didn’t even spell the main character’s name right?”
We have the answer to that puzzling question. (FYI: the main character is a young girl whose name is Anglicized as Mei, never May, in subtitles and all English-language information about the film).
This new restaurant is the brainchild of Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, who decided to open the spot after a trip to Thailand, where he met a roadside vendor selling the most delicious fried chicken wings in the rural province of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Not only did he love her food, but he was also moved by the plight of the single mother trying to survive with her children in the village. He also thought that where she lived reminded him of the forest in Totoro.
Her name? May. Her chicken wings are on the menu at the new restaurant.
Though the restaurant officially opened this month, and is now open daily, it’s been in soft opening mode — offering food to friends and family and asking for feedback — since mid-April. The menu includes offerings such as rice and steamed buns shaped like the forest spirit, the aforementioned chicken wings, soups, sodas, salads, and desserts of all kinds.
It’s expected that the food will be a bit pricey and not the main draw of the place, as is the case at most of these theme cafes, due to licensing payments and the fact they are a destination unto themselves.
However, for the true Totoro fan, a visit to May’s should be an experience to remember: The restaurant has an on-theme playground, and is in the process of building several additional elements that will delight fans of the movie, such as an orchid greenhouse, a pool to float boats, a library, and two rooms that can be rented for events.
A giant Totoro figure in the dining room and his big, round tummy overlooks the dining space, and smaller versions also sit on most tables, alongside figurines of castmates Mei, Satsuki, Sootballs, and the Catbus.
And if you’re there to dine as the sun goes down, then you’ll be there to catch the wall of Totoro stained glass art in all its splendor, too. Hallelujah!
Love theme cafes? Check out these other Coconuts stories:
May’s Garden House Restaurant
Sukhumvit Soi 29
Open daily 12pm-7pm, closed Mondays
BTS Phrom Pong