One of the best things about living in Bangkok is that you can eat very well without spending a huge wad of cash. This has always been the appeal of the city for me – so many great places to eat, most within my budget range. But every now and then, you come across the dining equivalent of bonus power-up – something that surprises and delights you if only for the sheer absurdity of it. On that note, I'd like to introduce you to some friends I made along the way.
Hajime Robot Restaurant
Hajime Robot Restaurant, 59/27 3/F, Monopoly Park Rama 3
Dancing robots that bring out your food and take the dishes away when you're done. That just about sums up Hajime. You sit down in one of several booths surrounding a kind of robot catwalk. The legless robots bumble about from one end to the other, awkwardly bringing out dishes of food to the delight of snap-happy diners. Protective glass – there to keep the robots or the customers safe? – keeps the mechanoids and their giant arms out of reach, so don't get any ideas about taking one home. They also don't talk, sadly, maintaining their stoic expressions throughout the shift.
Hajime is like the kind of futuristic vision Philip K Dick might have had for a restaurant 30 years ago. You get a touchscreen menu from which to order your food and when it's ready the robots bring it from the kitchen to your table where you then get to cook it on a barbecue or in a hotpot.
The food is pretty good, but nobody really cares about that. Everyone is just waiting for the robots to dance – and dance they do, to bubbly pop-dance beats. They spin around, wave their arms around like they're about to kill everyone and whiz up and down their tracks to howls of laughter all around.
If you have friends visiting Bangkok and don't mind shelling out 1,000 baht+ on a meal for two, I'd take them to Hajime… That is unless of course your friends happen to huge fans of NINJAS!
Ninja House Hero
74 Sukhumvit 26, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok
The concept is just so brilliant I can't believe nobody has done it before. We showed up at Ninja House Hero with no idea what to expect. A chap at the door told us to wait a minute, which we assumed was because there were no tables. But oh no, that wasn't it at all. Before we knew it, a gong sounded and a lady ninja appeared out of nowhere screaming “NEE NEE NEE NEE NEE” beckoning us into a dark tunnel. We then followed her on a kind of ninja obstacle course, able to see thanks a handy ninja pen torch she had brought with her. We then emerged in a mostly empty restaurant full of ninja staff.
During our stay at Ninja House Hero there was a lot of overpriced Japanese food brought to our table and we did eat it, but it was the ninja side events that really stole the evening. The first show was a ninja dance routine, complete with luminous pink and yellow pom poms. That certainly whet our apetites for the festivites. Then came a magic show performed by a lady ninja wearing a pair of Dame Edna's glasses.
The pièce de résistance was a ninja stick fighting show right next to our table. These were the most versataile ninas I had ever seen. So many talents all under one roof. Later on we played a game of chance, pulling one of several chopsticks out of cup, and won a dumpling or something.
These restaurants gifted me with two of my favourite dining experiences in Bangkok. I wrote about weird eating experiences in Bangkok for CNNGo a while ago, so check out the article if you want some more inspiration.