Robots are taking on more and more tasks formerly done by human hands. For example, slicing noodles. Robot noodle slicers are a thing in China, but instead of applying for a passport to see one in action, you can just head to the eastern San Gabriel Valley and Shanxi Noodle House. Behind the glass of a kitchen in full view of diners, the noodlebot does its job. About three feet tall, the robot is decked out with a mannequin head, chef's toque and a rubber hand wielding a peelerlike blade. A loaf of dough is placed on a board, a button is pushed and the arm rapidly shaves the noodles (known as dao xiao mian or knife-cut noodles) to order for a human chef to gather up and prepare. Shanxi Province is known for its wide array of noodles, and with several versions of dao xiao mian on the menu, there are plenty of opportunities to watch the bot do its thing. Come for the robot, stay for the noodles.
Steamed Pingyao-style buckwheat flour crepes; Credit: Jim Thurman