Singapore opens first robot-operated concept restaurant called Hawkee to the public

It serves robot-cooked wok dishes.

Image from Hawkee's PR (Redhill) Hokkien Mee cooked by D.I.A.N.A. Image from Hawkee.

Singaporean food tech company Epic Food and Beverage has launched the country’s first robotics concept restaurant, Hawkee, the company said in an official statement.

Translated from the word “curious” in Hokkien (a Chinese dialect), Hawkee has a fully-automated system including taking orders and cooking. The 200m² space can accommodate up to 90 patrons.

The Hawkee restaurant. Image from Hawkee.

The restaurant has 12 menu items, all of which are prepared by a robot chef called D.I.A.N.A, which was created and manufactured by Epic Food and Beverages.

The robots are assembled in Singapore and programmed to cook each dish in a way that retains strong wok hei, the smoky wok fragrance. In Singapore, a good hawker dish is largely determined by whether it has wok hei. D.I.A.N.A. cooks each dish according to a recipe that consists of a precisely measured amount of condiments in under four minutes. The robot chef also allows patrons to customize each dish.

Founded in January 2019, the angel-funded startup aims to transform the food and beverage industry through automation, robotics, and training so the industry can keep up with the digital transformation of the economy. More importantly, the company aims to use robotic cooking and artificial intelligence to preserve the hawker culture.

From security robots to using robotic arms for heart surgeries and driver-less buses, Singapore is known for being forward in the robotics game. It has one of the highest robot-to-human-worker densities in the world, after South Korea.

The robot chef concept is not new in Singapore–AUSCA, which stands for Automated Service Chef Associate, is already whipping up omelettes at an award-winning restaurant on the island. But a full fledged restaurant with an affordable menu centered wholly on robot chefs is so far unheard of. To this end, Hawkee is considered a pioneer. The company behind Hawkee said it has plans to develop and launch several other food service robots in the near future.