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  1. In non-linear, non-dialectical fashion, I'm going to start this review with the bottom line: Hajime is a great place to take a Thai girl for dinner, mostly because of its Wow! factor. The food is standard teppanyaki fare. It's not cheap (500-600 baht per person, including beer), but it's worth every baht. Hajime Robot Restaurant is a teppanyaki-style restaurant on the 5th floor of Central Festival Mall. As you walk towards the Beach Road side of the mall, it's on the last restaurant on the left before the elevators. Teppanyaki is a Japanese method of cooking in which raw ingredients are grilled on a propane-heated, fat-surface metal griddle, usually in front of the dinners. It's a modern development, as the first teppanyaki restaurant didn't open in Japan until after WWII. The most popular feature of teppanyaki became watching the chef prepare and cook in a showy fashion, such as juggling knives, slicing vegetables with speed and precision or flipping an egg into his chef's cap. The Benihana chain that opened in the U.S. in the 1960s epitomizes this style of teppanyaki. At Hajime, the gimmick is an impressive robot in samurai gear who serves the diners their trays of raw ingredients, which are cooked at the table by the diners themselves. The robot also takes away the empty trays and performs to music, including a very credible version of Oppa Gangnam Style. Because the robot is behind windows that are sectioned by thick wooden beams, it's hard to take good pics. Here's an illustrative shot from the Central Festival Website: The reality of Hajime isn't quite as poetic as this pic from the company's Web site, but it's still a good indication of what to expect. The pics I took: The entrance: Part of the a la carte section. The robot in his "alley." The robot dancing: And delivering orders: It's fun to take pictures of Asians taking pictures. Hajime is divided into two sections. One is an all-you-can-eat buffet where the dishes move past the dinner conveyor-belt style There is also a very mechanical-looking one-armed robot that dispenses drinks. More fascinating is the a la carte section, consists of 18 four-person tables, nine on each side of the samurai robot's glass-enclosed alley. The tables are "sunken" into the floor and tradition dictates that you remove your shoes before sitting down. It could be a bit tricky for anyone with a disability or who's stiff from age. You then order via a touch-screen monitor screen at the table. You can choose from 14 "pages" of ingredients (beef, pork, fish, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, veggies, etc) and cooked dishes (tempura, katsudon and other donburi dishes) as well as sushi and sashimi. There are also sets of ingredients for multiple diners. It's very easy to check the running total of your bill on the screen. Hajime has a limited choice of alcoholic beverages, just two kinds of sake and San Miguel and Heineken beer. No wine or other beers are available. The robot brings the raw ingredients that are cooked at the table, while waiters bring the cooked dishes and alcoholic beverages. I lost some of the pics from Hajime due to file corruption on my memory card , but here comes what I could salvage before re-formatting the card. I lost some pics of the interior, raw ingredients such as squid, prawns and fish as well as the touch-screen and the griddle and table setting. I ate that night with BM capdagde and his wife. We had wanted to go the previous night, but no tables were available when we walked in at 6.00 p.m. We reserved a table for 6.30 p.m. the following evening. If you want to visit Hajime between 5.00 p.m. and 8 p.m., it's best to phone a day ahead to reserve a table. We ordered shrimp, squid, scallops, salmon, kurobuta pork, duck breast and sliced beef chuck to cook on the griddle. We also had a mixed prawn and vegetable tempura dish that was delivered by a waiter.It was plenty for the three of us. Andy and I had two beers each and the total cost was 1,600 baht, not bad at all for the amount we ate. The tempura dish: Duck breast and kurobuta pork: Flo cooking the beef: There's soy sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and wasabe for dipping, with containers of soy sauce and rice vinegar that can be poured on the food that's cooking. It's strictly Japanese style, with none of the typical Thai dipping sauces or flavoring. Teppanyaki cooking is about as simple as it gets. It's the freshness and quality of the ingredients that makes the meal. But entertainment has always been part of the teppanyaki experience and the Hajime robot sure doesn't fail in that respect. Evil A YouTube video from Hajime:
  2. Japanese cook-it-yourself style restaurant in Central Festival. Not cheap but very good and if you're hungry, then it'll become cheap for it's also all-you-can-eat. Quite entertaining as well.
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