Hajime Robot Restaurant: Good food, dancing robots, what more could we ask for?
Among mankind’s many pastimes these days, eating meat and watching robots dance must surely rank among our favorites. But what would happen if the two were combined? Bangkokians can now rejoice for the answer is neatly tucked away on the third floor of the Monopoly Park plaza in Rama 3.
Hajime Robot Restaurant may not be the intergalactic, mind-warping experience the world has been waiting for, but as far as Bangkok goes, it’s pretty damn close.
At first glance, the restaurant looks like any other Japanese shabu and barbecue joint, with rows of neat cubicles where hotpots steam and grills sizzle.
But then Lester and JayT’s classic "Nobody But You" -- the remix, no less -- comes bursting out of the speakers and there, in all their gangly glory, parading up and down some kind of electric runway without a care in the world, separated from the cubicles by protective paneling, are the dancing robots.
Techno dance moves
Sitting in our booth, my dinner date and I roll about in fits of laughter as the robots, each in its own zone, bust out moves we've never seen before.
As the song comes to an end, the robots are courteous enough to wai their bedazzled audience before getting back to work, bumbling up and down their runways, albeit without any legs, bringing diners uncooked meats and vegetables, ready to be thrown on the barbecues or into the pots.
“What’s his name?” we ask the waitress, pointing to our robot custodian. “Robot,” she replies.
The primary reason to visit Hajime Robot Restaurant is to see the robots. They dance and bring trays of food, albeit rather awkwardly. They don’t, however, make conversation or tell jokes, and so it’s difficult to really build a rapport with the Motomen, decked out in their snazzy samurai outfits.
The novelty of the robots going about their chores with their huge, beady eyes doesn’t wear off. There are, however, tasks even the robots are incapable of performing, such as bringing drinks or certain dishes that require skilled human hands.
The dances are too infrequent, we decide. “Can we ask him to dance?” we ask. “No. Sometimes he’s not free. He has to serve people,” says the waitress.
With all this talk of robots it's easy to forget we are in a restaurant, and not on some kind of space station. We are there to eat. It takes a lengthy explanation from our waitress before my companion and I are able to work the touchscreen menu and order the dishes we would soon be throwing onto our grill. There are all sorts to choose from -- meats, salads, veggies, sushi, rice and a few other odds and ends -- but nothing out of the ordinary.
Meals on wheels
The dishes aren't particularly cheap, hovering between 120 baht and 250 baht. We punch away and send our order to the robot. Each time a dish is ready, the screen displays a countdown in case we have mistakenly laid our heads in the path of the mechanical man. Sure enough, the countdown reaches zero and the robot comes with a dish. The portions are suitably large and we get down to grilling and then eating and then grilling some more, with regular Coca-Cola refills in between.
It's then time for another song and dance, although it's the same song. And the same dance. But still, everyone is happy, taking photos and giggling.
Once the commotion is over, we get back to eating, and the food is fine, with decent cuts of Korean pork, giant prawns, slithers of bacon and slabs of kurobuta. We chomp through about 10 dishes in all, weighing in at a grand total of 1,300 baht. The meal leaves us devastatingly full -- uncomfortably so -- and an after-dinner nap appears imminent.
Open since April, Hajime Robot Restaurant is unique and it’s hard to argue against an eatery with a tagline like “The first and only one restaurant where the robots serve your need for your new experience in Thailand.”
Hajime Robot Restaurant 59/27 3rd floor, Monopoly Park Rama 3, Bangkok Tel: +66 (0) 2 683 1670