If you claim to be a high-tech restaurant in Shanghai, we want to see more than a couple of robots roaming around the place. So, news of China’s ‘most hi-tech hotpot restaurant’
coming in the form of a new branch of Sichuan-style chain Haidilao in Lujiazui conjured all sorts of images – robots doing the noodle dance, a chorus of robots belting out happy birthday, etc.
Currently in soft opening (and set for its official launch at the end of May), the tech at the Harbour City-located restaurant is arguably more subtle than that, but pretty cool nevertheless giving you the option to personalise the most important part of your meal – the soup base – and watch as your order is prepared by robot arms without any human touch.
Although the ordering experience isn’t that different to a normal Haidilao on the surface – you’re given an iPad, you order way too much food – on these iPads you tailor your guodi (the broth) however you like it. You can adjust the amount of spice, oil, salt and choose from a load of ingredients and flavours with over 10,000 combinations in total. You can also name your recipe and save it on the Haidilao cloud for next time and share it around.
A lot of the tech here is also behind the scenes in the kitchen. Visible through a huge window, an Intelligent Kitchen Management System (IKMS) offers real-time monitoring of the overall operating status such as production, inventory and shelf life. Basically, the system checks each plate of food being prepared in the central kitchen.
According to Shine
, this is the third generation of tech upgrades that aim to meet the growing demand for customisation from Chinese consumers, while also ensuring food safety. It’s also not the first time that Haidilao has generated hype around its innovations – back in 2018, the chain opened a restaurant in Beijing featuring earlier versions of some of the tech used here and currently there are about 50 Haidilao ‘smart restaurants’ around the world.
We’re still holding out for the robot noodle dance, though…