If you work in the food service industry, this might be the stuff of nightmares. Well, raw fish and nightmares.
Because there is, in Tokyo, a restaurant that has done away almost completely with the typical "service" aspect of "food service." Almost all the jobs that wait staff traditionally do, from order-taking to food-delivery to dish-clearing to tab-keeping, are here done by machines. In the video above, the BBC's Spencer Kelly takes in a leisurely meal at the unnamed sush-o-mat. Not only does he grab food delivered on a conveyor belt—a process that will be familiar to anyone who's ever partaken in the glories of the sushi boat—he also discards used dishes in an automated chute. And places special orders on a tableside tablet. And earns prizes for games played on that tablet—the games themselves being rewards delivered to customers with every fifth plate purchased.
That's not to say that there are no humans involved in the restaurants. There are the chefs in the kitchen who prepare the food (with the help of computers that keep tabs on what might need to be restocked on the belt). There's the person working the cash register. There are, of course, the diners themselves. Everything else, though, is automated. The meals here aren't served so much as they're launched.
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