Robot Chef — Residents of Shanghai, China’s largest city, are currently being captivated by a pair of ramen-slinging robot chefs that have taken up residence at a new restaurant.
Toyako, a restaurant which opened last month in the Hongkou district of Shanghai, has customers flocking to its store to get a glimpse of its chefs Koya and Kona. Koya and Kona are not your typical chefs, but rather two $154,000 robots specifically designed to make ramen.
While they aren’t quite capable of pulling noodles from scratch, the impressive robot arms do handle just about every other aspect of preparing a ramen bowl — boiling water, cooking noodles, and portioning the soup with appropriate garnishes such as eggs and meat — in just 90 seconds.
But as impressively high-tech as the ramen bots may seem, they’re not actually a new invention: Similar robots have been in use in Japan since way back in 2009. And robot restaurants are already all the rage in China; there’s even one inspired by the Disney Pixar film Wall-E.
Toyako serves four types of ramen: seafood, fried fish, beef in brown sauce and braised pork, however the robots can only make the beef variety, according to owner Liu Jin.
The robots are far from cost effective, says Shanghai Daily. The cost of the robots is equivalent to the cost of employing two human chefs for six years. As a result, the ramen sold at Toyako is double than that of other typical restaurants. Despite these factors, Liu believes that he can make a profit with the restaurant. He says, “You don’t get any problems with robots. They’ll never ask for leave and they won’t get sick.”