We try it in real life to see if it’s as good as it looks in TikTok videos.

Have you ever heard of Meat Butler? This yakiniku restaurant chain in Taiwan has become a bit of a hot topic online recently, with people sharing videos on TikTok showing one of the main features that makes it so great — it’s unusual yakiniku train system.

Keen to find out if the system was as good in real life as it looked in the videos, our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma stopped by one of the branches in Taipei on a recent trip to Taiwan.

Located just a short two-minute walk from Songshan Station, Masanuki arrived at this branch just after 4 p.m., at a time when it wouldn’t be crowded with diners so he could comfortably document his experience.

Stepping inside, Masanuki found himself in a sleek restaurant with a cosy cafe-like atmosphere. This particular branch opened in May so it was particularly gorgeous, and when he entered, staff showed him to a solo booth by the conveyor belt and proceeded to explain various things to him…in a Chinese language. Figuring they weren’t used to foreign visitors — this place was so new it probably wasn’t in any guidebooks yet — Masanuki simply smiled, nodded and looked at the QR code they were pointing at. Scanning the code with his smartphone revealed the menu, so he was able to order things like the “Unparalleled Chicken and Pork Duo” for NT$279 (1,292 yen [US$8.65]) and a Coke (NT$40), with his total coming to around 1,500 yen.

After ordering, Masanuki was immediately entertained by the sight of a mysterious-looking contraption whizzing past his booth on its way to another customer.

Standing up for a better look, he could see it was…a yakiniku train carrying yakiniku!

The great thing about this yakiniku “train” isn’t just its incredibly cute design, but also the way it operates. When it arrives at your booth, the interior lights up and the door automatically opens, which is a great feature in terms of both hygiene and looks, and it was something Masanuki had never seen before.

The design had such character to it that Masanuki found himself calling it Capsule-kun, with “kun” being the Japanese suffix used for boys and close male friends. When Capsule-kun safely brought Masanuki’s yakiniku set meal to his table, he lifted out his tray of food…

▼…and placed it on his table.

As Capsule-kun closed its door and trundled back off to the kitchen, Masanuki restrained himself from waving his hand at it in a fond farewell. The fun wasn’t over yet, though, as Masanuki now pulled out a drawer hidden beneath the table to retrieve a set of chopsticks and a wet towel and napkin.

▼ There are toothpicks in the drawer as well.

Now it was time to grill the meat and start eating. The small grill was perfect for solo diners, and it didn’t take long at all for the thin strips of meat to be perfectly cooked. The yakiniku turned out to be very tasty, and a great deal considering it came with rice, kimchi, pickles and soup as well.

The rice was a little hard, but Masanuki was too hungry to notice, and after gobbling up a few mouthfuls, he felt this would be a place he would visit regularly if he lived nearby.

There are a countless number of cheap and delicious restaurants like this in Taiwan, but Meat Butler has definitely found a way to stand out and get noticed from the crowd with its unusual delivery system. Even as you’re grilling the meat, the capsules whizz by, creating a fun atmosphere.

As Masanuki finished his meal, he found himself wishing he could relive the moment he met Capsule-kun in person for the first time, so he shared this video online for memory’s sake.

It was a fun and exciting way to receive a tray of food, and Masanuki is sincerely hoping it’ll be introduced at yakiniku restaurants in Japan soon too. With the recent problems at Japanese conveyor belt sushi restaurants, a system like this would also be of some benefit in the sushi world…that is, if the new Digital Sushi Vision trend doesn’t catch on.

Restaurant Information

Meat Butler
Address: 1st Floor, No. 135, Section 6, Citizen Avenue, Songshan District, Taipei City
Open: 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

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