This year, Santa’s not the only lovable character who seems to be everywhere at once—Hello Kitty and her friends are getting in on the holiday action. From a working farm in Irvine to a karaoke place in Hacienda Heights, Sanrio seems determined to make this the cutest December ever.
And, even once 2018 arrives, the Sanrio takeover of Southern California won’t be over. According to David Marchi, VP of brand marketing for Sanrio, fans will see more of these characters in the coming year. He says, “We are actively exploring and expanding Sanrio’s food collaborations and food-related experiences and will be making some exciting development announcements for fans in Orange County, Los Angeles, and the rest of the US shortly.” Whatever those developments turn out to be, one thing’s for sure: they’ll be really cute.
Tanaka Farms’ Holiday Tour and Sanrio Village
Southern California may not have sleigh rides, but at Tanaka Farms’ Holiday Tour and Sanrio Village (5380 University Dr., Irvine), you can take a wagon ride to a hilltop “village” full of Sanrio photo opportunities, including one with Santa himself. Along the way, a tour guide explains how different crops are grown, and the tractor stops a few times so visitors can sample farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. (The just-picked lettuce was surprisingly flavorful.) Bring your phone, because everything here begs to be Instagrammed. The tour ends back at the farm stand, which doubles as a #SanrioxTanakaFarms gift shop. Tickets are $18, or free for kids 2 and under, and include a commemorative button and cardboard Sanrio crown. The wagon ride runs every half hour from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 16, and Sunday, December 17. If you can’t get to the farm this weekend, check back for more Hello Kitty-themed fun in a few months. Tanaka Farm’s collaboration with Sanrio will continue with strawberry picking in the spring and a melon celebration next summer.
Gudetama x Curry House
My friend and I worked up a hunger taking photos at the farm, so when our tour was over, we headed straight to Curry House. The Japanese restaurant has partnered with Sanrio to celebrate Gudetama, a sad little egg. In addition to decorating their restaurants in Gudetama imagery, the menu offers a special meal that features Gudetama’s likeness in three separate courses. When the server brought out the main course (keema curry topped with a fried egg that has Gudetama’s face), I gasped at how cute it was. He also appears on the appetizer—a cup of corn soup—and the custard dessert, and it all tasted as good as it looked. The Gudetama meal ($29) comes with a take-home beanie embroidered with the GudetamaxCurryHouse logo. Gudetama is known for his laziness, but at Curry House, he’s a star. The promotion runs through January 20.
Gudetama Santa in Little Tokyo
The Sanrio store at Japanese Village (115 Japanese Village Plaza Mall) is offering holiday portraits with Gudetama Santa, and this weekend is your last chance to get one. On Saturday, December 16, and Sunday, December 17, Gudetama will visit from 11-11:30 a.m., 12-12:30 p.m., and 1-1:30 p.m. Sanrio fans can pose for #seasonedgreetings photos with the depressed egg, but don’t expect him to smile. Photo prices start at $8 for the basic “Hardboiled” package and go up to $25 for the “Poached” package, which includes a Gudetama ornament and totebag. The store will also be selling exclusive holiday items such as Gudetama tree toppers, holiday sweaters and blind box figures.
Hello Kitty Mini Café
Over the weekend, a new Hello Kitty Mini Café opened at Victoria Gardens (12505 N. Mainstreet, Rancho Cucamonga). There’s a similar café at the Westfield Santa Anita, and the Hello Kitty Café Pop-Up Container is currently located at the Irvine Spectrum Center. (The pop-up will move to another Southern California location in 2018.) All of the cafés offer an assortment of holiday goodies including a giant Hello Kitty gingerbread cookie ($12), a new chocolate-chocolate cake ($9), and frozen peppermint hot chocolate ($5.50). The cutest part? After the server decorates your cake with a powdered sugar Hello Kitty stencil and adds a candy bow, she’ll urge you to “Have a sweet day!”
Hello Kitty Wine
As a reminder that Hello Kitty isn’t just for kids, the Sanrio star also lends her name to a line of wine. The limited-edition Pinot Noir, Sweet Pink blend, Sparkling Rosé, and Pinot Nero Vinified in White are produced by Torti Wines and go for $25-$40 per bottle. They can be ordered online and are also available in several area stores, including VONS locations in Arcadia, Torrance, Carlsbad and Reseda; Pavilions locations in West Hollywood, Long Beach, Newport, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Irvine; and most Total Wine and More stores statewide.
Energy Bistro & Karaoke
Starting this week, Sanrio is also getting into the nightlife game, because the cuteness shouldn’t stop when the sun goes down. On Wednesday, December 13, they’re launching a partnership with Energy Bistro & Karaoke (2020 S Hacienda Blvd Unit K, Hacienda Heights), so get ready to sing your heart out in Sanrio-themed karaoke rooms. Hello Kitty and Gudetama will be part of the décor—as will Sanrio’s newest character, Aggretsuko, a 25-year-old red panda who works in an office and performs death metal karaoke to vent her frustrations. An updated menu will feature snacks inspired by all three characters, such as the Hello Kitty & Mimmy waffle & ice cream ($9) and the Gudetama lazy waffle sandwich ($19). Room rates start at $5 per person per hour with a minimum of six people and two hours. The #SanrioKaraoke partnership launches at the Hacienda Heights location, but will expand to the Energy Karaoke’s Alhambra location in early 2018.
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