Marunouchi is the prominent business district in the vicinity of Tokyo Station. While business persons on the go have countless choices for lunch, E Vino Spaghetti, which opens Thursday, welcomes people that have very little time for a lunch break. It is operated by Pronto Corporation, famous for pasta chain Pronto, and other local eateries such as Di Punto and Illy Caffe.
However, E Vino Spaghetti is no ordinary restaurant. It uses the world's first automated pasta cooking robot, developed in collaboration with TechMagic Inc.
TechMagic creates new food infrastructure by utilizing cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence machine learning and robotics. After four years of development, the world’s first ever pasta cooking robot P-Robo makes its debut.
P stands for Pronto and it is their fourth generation machine. What is most unique, is it even washes the pans on its own which leads to less human labor and prep time, cooking up to 90 meals per hour.
Both Pronto and TechMagic envision sustainable food infrastructure and are trying to solve human resource development issues in the food service industry faced by an unprecedented labor shortage. Rising labor costs are the biggest expense for the food industry.
P-Robo cooks in a specially developed deep frying pan using high-powered induction, where skilled cooking techniques are automated as well as simple tasks achieved. Moreover, manpower reduction also helps to make store operations safer by avoiding crowded kitchen, an essential hygiene measure against the coronavirus.
Only the final touches such as adding toppings are done by human hands, but every other task is prepared by P-Robo. I was doubtful at first about a machine cooking pasta, but surprisingly, it was done al dente and the sauce blended perfectly. AI-based image recognition technology is used to understand the status of pasta ingredients. It’s simply amazing that all eight types of pasta on the menu can be cooked in just 45-second intervals.
My favorite is the “Japanese Herbs steamed chicken, mizuna" (¥800) pasta topped with chicken breast, myoga, shiso, and potherb mustard. Halfway through, I recommend you to sprinkle on some condiments, like yuzukosho oil, and especially the freshly ground sansho (Japanese pepper) - a very rare condiment but amusingly aromatic. Another delight is “Aglio e Olio shrimp, tomato, argula" (¥900).
"E Vino,” which means with wine in English, is pronounced “Ebino” in Japanese while ebi means shrimp. That’s why a few dishes contain shrimp.
Pinchos such as “Soy Sauce Marinated Cream Cheese (¥380)” and Seard Atsuage Tofu ~Truffle Flavored~ (¥400)” go well with wine. Their Sicilian wine collection is impressive. Even though the pasta is prepared fast, you can stay as long as you want, enjoying side menus.
Various menu items, apart from pasta, are cooked by hand, such as the chicken and avocado salad which is likely to be popular among health conscious eaters. The Salad Bank at the restaurant entrance showcases various salads for takeouts in black carrying bags which are very instagrammable.
The logo of flying pasta dishes on staff uniforms are insta friendly too. And the interior is a hybrid of low tech and high tech. Wooden pillars are scraps carried from early Showa era homes. Marks of traditional Japanese woodworking techniques are evident on the ferns, cypress and cedar, and they emit a relaxing natural aroma.
Looks like this will become a perfect pitstop for lunch and an ideal hangout for Marunouchi oenophiles after work. The U-shaped counter and the tables seat 32 people.
E Vino Spaghetti is thinking ahead to expand overseas. “I would like to bring P-Robo to different countries too,” says Yuji Shiraki, president and CEO of Techmagic.
E Vino Spaghetti
Location: Marunouchi Building B1F, 2-4-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
Holidays: As per facility
IG: @e_vino_spaghetti© Japan Today