The unusually-named restaurant battles against the robots of Kabukicho with spooky spirits and staff that look like creepy androids.

If you’ve been to Japan, chances are you’ll know about Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant. Located in Kabukicho, Shinjuku’s lively entertainment district, this “restaurant” is more of a show than a dining experience, serving snacks and boxed meals in between performances filled with lights, robots, and scantily-clad dancers.

Now though, the Robot Restaurant has a rival to contend with, and the competition is located directly opposite their brightly lit establishment. While the new business doesn’t have colourful lights or giant robots to draw the crowds, it does have something else that’s getting everyone’s attention — its unusual name.

▼ Say hello to the “Ningen Restaurant”, or in English: “Human Restaurant”.

Our Japanese-language reporter Mr Sato decided to head down to the restaurant to see what it was like in person, and when he arrived he discovered that the entry was located under an interesting sign. 

▼ It looked like something straight out of the movie Blade Runner.

Despite looking like it was meant to keep out anyone under age 18, that wasn’t actually the case. Not only was there no age requirement for entry, but the legal age for people in Japan is 20. Still, Mr Sato hoped that when he stepped inside he wasn’t about to walk into some seedy establishment.

As there was no lift, Mr Sato had to use the stairs to get to the fourth floor, where the restaurant was located. It didn’t ease his concerns about what he was getting himself into, though.

As he arrived at the third floor, he found a door with this sign on it, which read: “Human Restaurant above here”.

Attached to that sign was a small note, which read:

“Something that happened a little while ago. A spiritual friend who has a strong sense of the supernatural said to me, ‘Mr Nanae, you have two “back children” connected to you. It’s rare these days.’ But what the heck are ‘back children’? Do they have a connection to time? WTF? – Store Manager”

The note, with its little hand-drawn image of a “back child”, made the hairs on the back of Mr Sato’s neck stand on end, and he wondered if he should head downstairs to make an escape from the spooky building. But instead, he opened the door and peered behind it to find…

▼ …a collection of personal goods for sale, including a kimono and obi.

What the heck???? Feeling like he’d intruded on someone’s apartment, he looked around and saw a sign in the middle of the room, saying “Human Restauarnt Souvenir Corner”.

Without another living soul in the room — at least none that were visible — Mr Sato turned around and raced out the door, trying to erase the eerie feeling he got from the place. As he headed upstairs, he had no idea what kind of restaurant he would find, but as soon as he got to the actual Human Restaurant, he couldn’t believe his eyes.

In stark contrast to the spooky room below, the restaurant itself was incredibly stylish and modern, with a stainless steel counter, clean white walls, and a raised tatami-mat seating area in the far corner. It was such a nice surprise that Mr Sato decided not to take any photos of the interior so as not to spoil it for any first-time visitors.

The restaurant also had a veranda, which gives you one of the best views of the Kabukicho neigbourhood and the Robot Restaurant across the way.

It was the first time for Mr Sato to actually look down on the Robot Restaurant from above, and it gave him a feeling that humans hadn’t lost everything to their robot counterparts.

Looking at the menu, there was a wide variety of drinks on offer, including whiskies, gins and liqueurs, with some food options like soba and egg burgers.

Mr Sato had worked up an appetite, so he ordered a specialty from Nagoya Prefecture: Anko Red Bean Butter Burgers, for 700 yen (US$6.22).

Mr Sato was thoroughly impressed by the huge and generous serving of red bean paste in each of these. One would’ve been a tasty snack in itself, but two of these ended up filling his belly quite nicely.

After enjoying his meal, Mr Sato took a moment to flick through the “Human Menu”, which profiled each member of staff, using photos that made them look more like creepy androids than fully fledged humans.

And then Mr Sato made the trip downstairs and headed out to the bright lights of Kabukicho once again.

The battle between humans and robots in Kabukicho’s dining scene is well and truly alive, and Mr Sato wholeheartedly recommends making a visit to the Human Restaurant to show your support for humankind. That is, unless you’re an A.I. schoolgirl, in which case you’d best move along quickly, in an effort not to anger the humans and the robot overlords across the street.

Restaurant Information
Ningen Restaurant / 人間レストラン
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1-13-11 Kai building 4F
東京都新宿区歌舞伎町1-13-11 甲斐ビル4F
Hours: 6 p.m.-5 a.m.

Photos © SoraNews24