Metaverse Meals Are Pricey but Not Filling

Virtual snacking gets real

Key Takeaways

  • Restaurants are opening virtual locations in the metaverse. 
  • The restaurant iChina will soon open a dining room with sensory immersion and a tasting menu. 
  •  An NFT of a black truffle recently sold for $10,000.
Someone using a VR headset during a meal to see a larger portion of food than is on their actual plate.

Donald Iain Smith / Getty Images

Food is the latest item to go virtual. 

A high-end Chinese restaurant in California will launch a virtual reality room. The experience includes a tasting menu that costs a minimum of $4,500 for ten people. It's part of a growing effort to make dining a part of the virtual realm. 

"High-end chefs are tokenizing their signature dishes as NFTs, and these are sold as special and unique," Bob Bilbruck, the CEO of Captjur, a tech consulting firm that works on the metaverse, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

Mixing Reality While Dining

Silicon Valleys’ Chinese restaurant, iChina, will soon open a dining room with sensory immersion and a tasting menu. The room has video projectors to give diners the impression that they are somewhere other than just a four-walled room. 

The diners are meant to feel transported to tranquil settings, including a bamboo forest, a pond, a cherry blossom garden, a mosaic wall, and a water lantern festival. 

Eddie Lam, iChina’s executive chef, told Eater San Francisco, that as an example, if diners were taking part in an aquatic scene, the food—a seafood course in that case—would contribute to the experience.

Montreal restaurant The Famous Cosmos has also entered the metaverse via a 3D virtual world platform called Decentraland. Customers will be able to view restaurant workers in the metaverse and chat with them. But ordering food will mean going to a physical restaurant location. 

One hot metaverse concept that restaurants and other food purveyors are embracing is non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a digital ledger that can be sold and traded. An NFT of a black truffle recently sold for $10,000

Bilbruck recently attended a virtual conference on food in the metaverse. “Right now, the form that most metaverse food plays is NFT's,” he said.

"Having a virtual restaurant in the metaverse for Mcdonald's is like having a VR DoorDash experience."

VlRTUAL FOOD GETS REAL

Some food ordered in the metaverse might end up in your real stomach. McDonald's is reportedly bringing its menu into the metaverse. You'll be able to visit McDonald's in virtual reality and order things like a Big Mac or a Happy Meal and have them delivered to your home in the real world.

"Having a virtual restaurant in the metaverse for Mcdonald's is like having a VR DoorDash experience," Evan Gappelberg, the CEO of VR and augmented reality (AR) firm NexTech said in an email interview. "You go into a virtual McDonald's and order some food only to have your doorbell ring and the food show up as delivery."

Entrepreneurs are getting set to help restaurants sling burgers and milkshakes in the metaverse. The restaurant tech company Lunchbox is selling what it claims is the first restaurant in the metaverse via an NFT. A company can buy the virtual restaurant, put their brand on it and start taking orders from virtual kiosks within the store. The food would then be made by the real-life operation and delivered to the customer's real home. 

Bareburger, a hamburger chain that bought the NFT from Lunchbox, will be able to fully retrofit the virtual restaurant into its own brand. Digital kiosks are also in place, where food orders will be delivered directly to guests.

Someone wearing a VR headset while sitting in a restaurant.

Westend61 / Getty Images

"We've never shied away from technology, but the metaverse allows us to reach our guests in a way no other technology has in the past," Euripides Pelekanos, the CEO of Bareburger, said in a news release. "Lunchbox's virtual restaurant allows us to showcase our offerings in the ever-evolving digital neighborhoods and communities of the metaverse, which we're excited to be a part of. We're working on completely retrofitting the virtual restaurant into something that is both familiar and quite literally out of this world."

More restaurants are soon likely to embrace the metaverse, observers say. In the near term, food will be sold as NFTs, and dining establishments will open virtual locations, Bilbruck predicted. 

But eventually, "I think all food can be shown as a hologram in the metaverse to preview your meal before selecting your entree," Gappelberg said. "So essentially all food can be displayed and ordered in the metaverse while the actual food is eaten outside the metaverse."

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