One of Japan’s most basic restaurant chains has some new high-tech workers.

In Japanese, the word futsu means ordinary. If something Is futsu it’s not necessarily bad, but not all that noteworthily great either.

Ramen chain Hidakaya, for example, is a very futsu restaurant. Reasonable prices, decent-sized portions, and pretty good flavor. No disappointments, and no surprises…except on our most recent to Hidakaya, where it turned out a very big surprise was waiting for us.

The plate of stir-fried noodles we ordered was as ordinarily tasty as ever, but the way they arrived was…

…by way of robo waiter!

After we’d placed our order with a staff member, we took a seat, and before long the robot came rolling across the restaurant floor to us.

There’s a monitor on the front, but on the backside is a vertical series of trays to hold customers’ orders.

After the robot arrives at your table, it rotates around so that you can grab the plate or bowl with your food in it. Once you’ve done that, just press the button on the robot’s top, and it’ll head back to the kitchen to pick up the next order in line.

Hidakaya has started adding robot waiters to cope with short-term labor shortages during the pandemic. They’re only used for delivering food, though, with human staff still responsible for taking customers’ orders, settling bills, and all other functions inside the restaurant, and the clear division of responsibilities created an atmosphere of humans and robots working alongside each other, making us feel like we were eating inside a science-fiction movie.

Currently, Hidaka has robot waiters at 50 of Its branches, including its Meguro Higashi and Shinanomachieki-mae branches in Tokyo. We ran into ours at the Akihabaraeki Minami branch, just a block south of Akihabara Station, which also makes a lot of sense, because where better for a robot to bring you your ramen than in Tokyo’s electronics district?

Restaurant information
Hidakaya (Akihabaraeki Minami branch) / 日高屋(秋葉原駅南店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Sakumacho 1-15
Open 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

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