To entice passers by, the cafe has a fantastic sampuru display of its sundaes, pancakes drinks and sandwiches. Sampuru (derived from the English word "sample") are realistic food replicas usually made from wax or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Making fake-food has been a business in Japan since the 1930s and now, what with Japanese restaurants being franchised globally, has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.
Having these eye-candy on display makes good business sense. No sample food to waste, no paper menus to print and most of all, it's the effective foot traffic advertisement.
For diner, though, it can be a boon or a bane. While one is spared the task of having to imagine what the food you're about to order is going to look like, one has to contend with the variety of choices which may take some time. Inevitably, the diner holds up the line.
Which is what happened to me at St. Marc Cafe.
Eventually, with some help from the food attendant, I chose the Choco Berry Celebration.
This is what arrived. Not an exact replica but not a far cry either. Fair enough.
The thing with fantastic sampuru displays is that you elevate the expectation of the diner. So I put a bit of everything on my spoon, expecting some celebratory sparks (not even fireworks) but none came. It was ice cream with custard and bits of fruit in it. Pretty but average. Even the disappointment I felt was neither here nor there.
|Spot the difference|
After the first few spoonfuls, my thoughts were on the macha-flavored ice cream sundaes. Maybe, I should have gotten those. Next time, probably.