It was an intriguing trip to the Central Festival Pattaya Beach Mall this week to experience the latest novel sensation located on the fifth floor. We went to visit the unique Hajime Robot Restaurant, a restaurant where robots serve a range of Japanese cuisine. Japanese owned, Bangkok was chosen as the first robot restaurant in Thailand, and Pattaya has the honour of being selected as the location for the company’s second branch. Where else to place this distinctive eatery but at the gigantic Central Festival Pattaya Beach Mall! Opened six months ago, Hajime is decorated in classic Japanese style, with modern wooden paneled walls and has a spacious dining area, split into three zones. First there is a Suki area where guests can cook their chosen food in a hot pot. Then there is the Shabu Shabu area where a conveyor belt stretches in front of and around the diners, covered with a splendid array of different Japanese delicacies, including thinly sliced cuts of Beef and Lamb, Seafood and Vegetables to be c
ooked on each table’s hot plate. The nice thing here is that it is an all you can eat buffet, choose as much as one desires at an extremely fair price of 309 baht including beverages and desserts. But we opted for the section where the star of the restaurant appears. The Teppan Yaki zone, offering classic Japanese dishes to be cooked on a hot griddle set in the centre of the table. By tradition, guests are obliged to remove their shoes and sit on cushions in front of the sunken dining area. There are 18 such table settings surrounding a long glass corridor. So what is novel here? Well, you do get the chance to be served by the star of the show, a show piece 6 foot tall robot, dressed in classic Samurai warrior armour and helmet. He is set inside the corridor on a central rail line, and entertains and amuses everyone with a robotic dance as he waits for your orders. At each table there is a touch screen menu. Don’t worry if you are inexperienced with computers and touch screen tablets, as there is a professional server at hand to help you make your choice. There are 14 pages with a super assortment of Japanese style dishes from starters to desserts at amazingly low prices. One simply presses the relevant on screen buttons, where picture descriptions of each dish appear, then all you do is press ‘accept’ to confirm the order. Then the real fun begins, as within minutes, our friendly Robot buzzes into action, and starts bringing your chosen dishes to your table zone. Automatically, he places the dishes on your individual shelf, the glass window rises, and you take the dishes out to place on your table. Then your personal server/cook takes over. On this occasion we had Khun Pui to expertly cook and prepare our chosen dishes on the griddle. First she oiled the griddle, then placed a generous amount of Black Pepper Scallops (109 baht) and 3 River Prawns (109 baht) to cook with various sauces. The result was excellent, resulting in succulent meat in a very tasty sauce dressing. After cleaning the gridd le and placing the empty dishes on the shelf to be collected by our Robot friend, Khun Pui then went about cooking Kiro Buta Beef Steak (119 baht) and Kiro Buto Lamb Steak (239 baht). Again, the result was delicious, tender thin slices of flavorsome meat coated in a delectable sauce. We then waited for the Robot to bring more dishes to the table, being Gyoza Dumplings (80 baht), Tempura of Prawns and Vegetables (79 baht) and Green Lip New Zealand Mussels with Garlic (120 baht). The meal ended with two Sushi delicacies, Salmon Maki (130 baht) with Seaweed wrapped Rice and Salmon Caviar Roe, and Ebiko Gunkani (80 baht) made up of Rice and Vegetables. Eating at Hajime Robot Restaurant is certainly a novel experience to remember! Located on 5th floor at Beach Road end of Central Festival! Open from 11am until 10pm. Telephone: 038 043 223 or 087 172 0660.
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