Is that the future of dining? Robots creating your mail and serving them at your table. Which sounds a bit like Science Fiction is – somehow – true in the Dubai Festival City Mall in Dubai. The Robo Cafe (also: RoboCafe) became a tourist attraction in its own. During my stay in the city in May 2021, I just had to have a snack there and tell you my experience.
Robo Cafe Dubai – Location
The Festival City Mall is located on the North shore of Dubai Creek, East of the Old Town attractions. The mall is not that touristic, even though it is one of my favorite ones. During my May 2021 trip, I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel at the Mall. In earlier stays, I tried out the Dream Aero Boeing 737 flight simulator, which is located in the mall as well. The place is also known for its water fountain show or the Ikea located in its Northern part. Mall opening times are 10:00 to 22:00 hrs during the week and until midnight on (Arabian) weekends. There is sufficient free parking.
Robo Cafe Dubai – The Concept / Atmosphere
The cafe is located in the middle of the mall, right before the exit to the area where the water fountain show takes place. It is arranged in a somehow semicircle style. The inside is the robot area, the oval tables are on the outside of the circle. There is staff, but they should just guide you to the table and clean them – in fact, they quite frequently interact with tablets and seem to adjust the process. You do your order via a touchscreen at the table. The ordering process includes paying by credit card.
Three robots do the serving: one is doing hot drinks, one is doing cold ones and the third one is serving food. Don’t expect too much about the chef quality of robots: the meals are in fact heated in a convection or microwave oven facility right next where the dishes are stored. This all leads to a modern, almost futuristic style.
Robo Cafe Dubai – Ordering Process
Don’t be too shocked – the pricing is rather high at robo cafe – I paid roughly 20 EUR for a care, three sliders, a tea and an orange juice. You do this one for the fun – there are better places for good food, indeed. Once your order is placed (and the robot is free), the preparation of the dish will start. The tea was finally just a cup of hot water and a teabag next to it, no milk. The robot will place the orders on self-navigating tablets, which look a bit like vacuum robots.
While I felt that the preparation of meals looked quite efficient, these tablets needed a lot of manual intervention by the staff. Sometimes, they did not find the way to the table – in my case, the returning tablet with the orange juice blocked the path for the food – which included the three heated sliders (shouldn’t warm food always have higher priority?). The hot food was in at most warm then – as they took a couple of minutes for a five meter distance…
Robo Cafe Dubai – Food & Drinks
As said, the tea was not really prepared by the robots, Apart from that, I was quite surprised in a positive way about the food. The sliders were not too bad at all and I liked the small tiramisu cake. Cutlery is at the tables, by the way. I hated that they gave you thin plastic cutlery at the Robo Cafe. If you pay a fortune for food, some metal kind of cutlery luxury should be included, I feel. I did not like that they iced my orange juice – the preparation takes some time and it makes the drink kind of thin. In general, transporting the orders feels to be much more complicated then preparing them.
Robo Cafe Dubai – Dancing Robots
From time to time, the staff switches the robots to dance to music, which is some sort of additional entertainment. In line with a lap dance in locations which officially do not exist in Dubai, you can have some sort of private dance, which is 200 AED (45 Euro). It includes two snacks and a drink, the dance and a private message on the display.
Robo Cafe Dubai – My View
If you are a local and have guests, you just have to go to this place, I guess. It is entertaining and doesn’t this one just perfectly fit to the entertainment wonderland Dubai? I was especially disappointed that the system feels to need to much manual intervention by the staff. If you have autonomous driving, why is it that hard to manage some ten of these moving vacuum robot-alike things on a table with fixed positions they have to reach? Robo Cafe just feels immature. That also includes things like that there are sirup stations for the coffee, but you just cannot order from them. The food was actually better than I expected, but it is heated stuff. The Texas Roadhouse right next to it will definitely give you a better burger, for example. Take it as entertainment and enjoy.
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