Eating with the Robots  

By Medha Dutta| Express News Service | Published: 09th September 2018 05:00 AM
Restaurant seating area.

Cuisine is meant to convey the nuances of cultures and trends. Ergo, the conveyor belt at Tanoshii Trail that pilots the weekend brunch at this restaurant at Greater Kailash, New Delhi. It brings with the Nigiri the message that technology and taste are as compatible as Beluga and  Pinot Blanc. Tanoshii Trail is Delhi’s first automated restaurant and has been brought to town by partners Mukund Bansal and Gaurav Dhariwal.

It is redefining the moveable feast. For the first time, hungry Delhi diners can choose their edification from pretty colour-coded travelling bowls—red, green and yellow—denoting vegetarian, non-vegetarian, and sea-food dishes, each containing small portions of dimsums, sushi, salads and other appetisers; all constantly on the move through the centre of the eatery with tables on both sides. Each bowl on the belt is covered with a plate and parked on a ring that labels the name of the dish.

The motorised portions are just right for a small group—in case your hunger or greed is not satiated you can always pick up another bowl from the rotating belt. A common feature at Japanese sushi and seafood restaurants, there is no need to keep getting up from the table and trot off to the buffet counter for a second or third helping. Apart from the conveyor belt, even giving the order is high tech.

The a la carte menu works through digital interface. Each table has a tablet with the uploaded menu. All one needs to do is tap on it and voila! Your order has reached the kitchen. No waiting for the server to head to your table, no repeating orders—each item is well explained. The adventurous can even customise dishes as per their taste. For the technologically challenged, there are managers around—always ready to assist the customer with the two left hands.

Once the order is prepared, it is sent to your table by a ‘service robot’ that is mounted on the conveyor belt. Once the dish reaches your table, the robot pauses and requests you to pick it up. Take it off the belt and press a button which will promptly send the robot dashing back to the kitchen. In case it’s soups or drinks that you are ordering, then the managers trust the human hand more. The partners imported the machinery from Malaysia.

Say Dhariwal and Bansal, “The customer today wants new experiences. After putting in a lot of thought on how to stand out from among the crowd and also serve exceptional food, we hit upon this idea to give our customers a different kind of food service.” They believe their efforts are appreciated. “Ordering food digitally is also a new experience for them,” they add. Dhariwal has a favourite sushi place in Hong Kong, which has a conveyor food belt. Considering the growing interest to experiment with more refined Pan Asian foods, the partners hit upon a delivery system to get the taste buds moving. And they imported the equipment from Malaysia.

Cuisine at Tanoshii Trail is varied; Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Burmese and more. The chef recommends the spinach wrapped dimsum, Tanoshii Trail chick and yes, adulthood involves some eating of cake for breakfast, and skewers with apple barbecue sauce and the crispy rice or the stone wok preparations and poke bowls. What’s a good meal without just desserts? Cheese frushi, betel leaf fried ice-cream, and seasonal fruit sago tart are there to oblige.

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