Japan launches 'ramen robot chef'

Posted at 08/05/2009 6:40 PM | Updated as of 08/05/2009 6:40 PM

JAPAN - Japan's obsession with the machines has gone one step further with a high-rech ramen noodle robot chef.

At the Fuamen Ramen Noodle shop in the central district of Nagoya, two robotic arms were seen serving hungry customers, doling out nearly 800 bowls of noodles on a busy day.

Kenji Nagoya, the owner of the noodle shop and a robot manufacturer said nobody gets it right like the robots.

"The benefits of using robots as ramen chefs include the accuracy of timing in boiling noodles, precise movements in adding toppings, and consistency in the taste," he said.

Nagoya's robot factory opened the noodle shop less than a month ago to showcase its latest robotic technology.

The noodle shop that sells a regular bowl with pork broth-based soup for $7 (about P) is yet to profit, partly due to the large investment in the research and development of the robotic arms.

But the restaurant is definitely getting a lot of attention and building its reputation. Customers say the noodles made by robots taste just as good as those made by humans.

"I don't feel any difference in taste between this ramen [cooked by robots] and those cooked by human chefs," said one male customer at the ramen shop.

Humans are not completely out of the equation. They have to step in occasionally to prepare the soup stock, take orders, and receive money. But the robot arms will take care of the rest.

The machines are pre-programmed to boil noodles, pour the soup into bowls and sprinkle toppings. Customers get to watch the entire process of ramen-making, which takes 1 minute and 40 seconds per bowl.

During downtime, when sales are slow, the robots entertain customers by demonstrating various tricks. Report based on Reuters video.