CLOSED: Robot Restaurant ロボットレストラン (Tokyo)

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Address: 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku

Type of Meal: Dinner 

Make your way through the maze of bustling streets in Shinjuku, look for a building that hurts your eyes if you stare directly at it and you will have found Robot Restaurant.  Despite four shows on Saturday night (three every other day) and rain during our visit, the 100+ seat arena was still full. To avoid disappointment, I suggest making a reservation – although as a warning it doesn’t help you get through the line any faster. Nonetheless, even their entrance is entertaining enough with two ladies sitting in moving robots and one drumming away.

After making your way down endless flights of stairs to the basement the showroom and “restaurant” awaits.  You hand in your ticket (chosen upstairs) and are given a meat or fish bento box.
The ¥5,000 charge per person certainly isn’t spent on food costs; my chicken and pork were a tepid temperature and made me feel squeamish about food safety. To play it safe, I decided to stick with the tasteless balls of rice mixed with pickled vegetables to tie me over until a follow-up dinner can be had. Luckily, the bottled green tea provided at the seats were cold and refreshing and draft beers were available (believe was ¥500) if you get there early enough. 

Any visitor will tell you, what makes you want to go back is not the food.  In fact, they should just consider doing away with the horrible bento and provide rice crackers and nuts instead.  What makes you want to return is the sheer unbelievable experience of an hour filled with huge props, flashing lights and beautiful skimpily clad women.  From robots, sharks, bulls and everything in between each set becomes more outrageous than the last.

The minute the show is supposed to start, the beer cart is whisked away and people ushered back to their seats where a safety demonstration is given.  Individuals occupying the first row are warned that these floats and robots will come inches of you.  Immediately, the lights dim and twenty girls on drumming floats burst out with dragons woven in for good measure.

Having only visited once, I can’t be sure on whether the show changes.  But, when we visited over Christmas, the following pole-dancing sequence was set to Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”. So, I sense they do try to change things up somewhat to make the show applicable to the season.

Afterwards, things start getting jumbled.  A robot, shark, bull and mermaid battle break out where every time the black curtain lifts something else unbelievable flies out into the middle of the room.

Glow sticks are given out and the audience is encouraged to cheer and pump their firsts as a cacophony of robots, circle bikes, Segways and giant robots circle the room – all done to Psy’s “Ganganam Style”.

Just when you think it’s over and disappointment starts seeping in, giant lit robots come out … certainly every Transformer’s fan’s dream come true. Soon, the women flood the room again with each one getting a shout out and doing a dance move in the middle of the robot crowd.  Think of it as a high school dance gone astray… with robots of course.

To end, a brightly lit tank, plane and barrels (trust me it sounds weird but all works) float around the room with a crazy amount of cheering.  The groups of young business people, giggling girls, couples, tourists and rowdy teenagers alike seem to be enthralled with the spectacle. At this point, you can’t help it but you’re bopping around in your chair and waving the glow stick like it’s your job. At least that was my experience.

Consequently, although I ate a “meal” at this “restaurant”, I can’t give Robot Restaurant a mark – how do you a rate something where the food is a zero but the experience a ten? Unless you’re sensitive to flashing lights, I highly recommend you check out Robot Restaurant. It’s here where you’ll truly get a sense of that wild Japanese game show experience and wonder where you’ve been transported to. It’s here where you have stories to tell your friends when they asked you what you did in Japan, only to have them look at you like you’re crazy.

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