It was the second time I was having a go at Nutrinizer and boy O’ boy, did they deliver on the goods.
This was also the first time that FoodPanda delivered late, more than an hour for the delivery. I wonder whether FoodPanda offers any incentive or money-back offers if they fail to deliver on time, A la Dominos.
I started off the Clean Eating Challenge focusing on just two parameters: waist line and weight line.
My waist stood at a staggering 37” and the weight at not an alarming 163 lb or 72 kg. So far there hasn’t been much difference but then again it’s been only 5 days into the challenge.
I started out looking like a python who had swallowed a goat, and well I still look the same.
Two things I haven’t changed in my experiment are:
Amount of sugar I consume daily. 2 teaspoons X 4 cups of tea = 8 tbsp.
Amount of exercise. Prior to starting the 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge, I used to do stretches and push-ups for like 5 mins in the morning, and some yoga stretches for 20 mins in the evening, and even that’s not a regular feature. Have kept the same regimen during the quest as well.
As far as my expenses are concerned, I’m bleeding Rs.1,000 on an average per day and chances are if I manage to complete this challenge, I would have parted with Rs.30,000, which is the minimum prediction. Could be much more. The need of the hour is to create a regimen that can be easily followed ad nauseam instead of worrying about the money. The expenditure would neutralize to some extent once other things are streamlined.
After seeing everyone going gaga over Noonsey Nihari on SWOT, I decided to take my family there. Now I’m usually the type who orders a little more than is necessary so that there are ample leftovers for the next day as well.
Followed the same strategy at NSN as well, only this time NSN committed the Cardinal Sin of not packing the complete stuff. They left out the beef nihari, the item that was remaining in the most quantity.
Now this is something which I hate the most. A cockroach in food. That’s ok, it can happen. Dead fly. No big deal. But all the leftover food not packed? Unforgivable.
Up until that point, the experience had been more or less good, but this pretty much undid whatever good work they were able to do. It was no use calling them up to have a go at them as we found out the next day when we opened the packet.
It would have been understandable if the place was jam-packed, but there were only a few people there. That means it wasn’t an accident but a deliberate act.
From a marketer’s perspective, the last experience your customer has with your brand counts the most, and not the first impression, as in human interactions.
And for that last folly, I would re-christen the place to ‘Noon Se Naalaiq’ instead of ‘Noon se Nihari’.
Now let me divulge the actual experience of eating out there and will try to prevent the last heinous act from influencing my judgement.
Full marks to the management for the ambiance. You would be hard pressed to find a nihari house that good. They could do away with some of the lights, however.
One major shortcoming here. For some inexplicable reason, they’ve installed fans in addition to the ACs. That’s not as bad as the fact that the fans are coupled with the lighting. We found out about it when the food came and I asked the waiter to switch off the fan directly overhead which was throwing air at us ferociously with the grim determination of turning our food to ice in a matter of seconds.
The waiter sheepishly replied that he couldn’t because he would have to turn out all the lights as well. I then asked him to at least slow down its ferocity a bit, and to my amazement he said that wasn’t possible either. If I was a BHAI, us kay naam ki parchi ab tak nikal aati. Alas, that has gone out of vogue in Karachi.
To all darling restaurateurs out there, try not to be a miser while laying the foundation of your restaurant by coupling all lighting and air-conditioning under a single switch. Spend a few bucks to buy some extra switches. You’re going to win all that money back in any case once you get started by charging an arm and a leg, why not provide your customers some semblance of convenience while you’re fleecing them?
Coming to the food. The chapli kababs were delectable. They had just the right amount of spices. The meat under the crust was tender and not over-cooked like I’ve seen in so many others. And the quantity was good too.
The Nihari was OK. No more. No less. But for a staggering price of Rs.580 which does not include even the Maghaz or the Nalli, it was not OK by any stretch of the imagination. In fact if you include both these sidelines, you’re looking at a whopping price of Rs. 750!
Unless you’re putting gold dust into that Nihari [maybe pearls would do too], I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. Which I did. My bad. But never again.
And therein lies the real problem with a high-end Nihari business model. If you’re opening a fine-dining restaurant with exorbitant prices, its better to put some high-end dishes in it that at least have a perception of being high-end. Nihari, just like biryani, is the staple diet of Karachiites. They’re used to having a mind-blowing version at Javed, Sohail and Zahid at less than half of what Noon Se Nihari se charging. It’s not something for which you would get all dressed up to have a restaurant.
A double plate of supremely sumptuous Nihari with all the bells and whistles at one of these joints would cost no more than Rs.300. And NSN’s version couldn’t hold a candle to these veterans’ delicacy.
Would you go for a biryani that costs almost a thousand buck? You wouldn’t. Unless of course you were sitting at a five-star hotel. And your friend was paying for it.
Right now people are thronging to NSN merely because of the novelty factor and not because of the taste. In some instance it’s also a battle of ‘Oh-my-you-haven’t-tried-that-out-as-yet’. But once the dust settles down, which it invariably will, NSN will have a tough time getting in repeat customers based on their Nihari’s current level of scrumptiousness. The fact that it does not have the best of locations will hurt it too.
So unless NSN re-invents its Nihari and takes it taste to the level of the Big Boys, it will have a tough time surviving merely on the Burger Awam’s penchant for hygienic Nihari.
We as a nation aren’t attuned to relishing hygienic foods. Otherwise the food joints which have been closed down time and again by the government’s food and health department for unhygienic conditions would have been shunned by the public, never to be profitable again. And yet they are thriving.
So if you think you can make this business model successful whereby you charge exorbitantly for something based on just hygiene and not taste, good luck with it.
Babujee at Port Grand is offering Iftar Buffet Dinner at Rs.1000 + tax which comprises of 20 items give or take a few.
Babujee has been around ever since Port Grand opened up four years ago.Babujee may appear to be small but in fact is quite big with two dining rooms, upper terrace and a ground floor open area. But due to the cramped up arrangement of the tables and chairs, it appears as not spacious.
The choice of buffet items is not the best. Almost all the restaurants I’ve visited in Ramadan, great and small, offer at the very least vegetable fried rice as part of the rice brigade. Babujee had kept simple steamed rice!
Babujee Iftar Dinner Buffet
All in all the following items were on display:
Fish in garlic sauce
Chicken n vegetable sauce
The day we visited seemed to be a bad hair day for Babujee management. There was a short circuit and the lights on the open deck were out for all intents and purposes so that you only. That could be considered unfortunate and beyond the control of Babujee management, but the rest of the foibles were something that could have been taken care of easily.
To begin with, the two juices and rooh afza that was served at the Iftar time wasn’t chilled at all. Moreover, when we ordered soft drinks later on during the dinner, they were completely warm as well. We registered our protest, and the best Babujee could do was give us ice cubes and that only after waiting for eternity.
Service was in general excruciatingly slow.
Beware that they will put a large of bottle of mineral water on your table as it its free and then go on to charge you for it.
Some devious tactics were being used at the prawn tempura stall as well. The cook was deliberately focusing on frying onion rings claiming that they were more in demand than prawn tempura, which is incredulous. The aim was to make people wait so long that they give up on it altogether.
The tawa fish was delectable, no doubt about that, and probably the best item on the menu. A close contender was prawn tempura, what little we saw of it, courtesy the cook at the prawn stall.
The BBQ chicken boti was a mixed bag. Some botis were soft and chewable while others were completely unchewable.
The only redeeming feature of the evening was the couple adjacent to our seat. Since Babujee in their greed had placed the tables so close to cramp in as many as possible, we were practically sitting in their laps. Or maybe it’s not the greed, but Babujee actually encourages eavesdropping sessions so that people are entertained by listening to the banal conversations of their next-table neighbors. What a benevolent act by Babujee management.
Coming back to the elusive couple, it was the Iron Lady married to Forrest Gump. There was an eerie silence at their table broken intermittently only by the iron lady barking out some order to the hubby. The hubby for the large part just nodded or uttered single syllables, lest he said something and brought on him the wrath of the dragon sitting next to him. At the very least, he anticipated a smack on the head if he did something wrong. Maybe he was her servant in another lifetime or even a slave.
What must have been life like for the poor man at home, we were afforded a glimpse of that when a rather aged man walked past the dragon lady and in the process caused her to spill whatever the hell she was drinking. She let out a loud ‘Oh shit!’ and glared at the guy with such fury that I was certain would melt the guy on the spot. Maybe the fast had diminished her magical powers, and the old man escaped her wrath by hurriedly walking away apologizing profusely.
By the way she was dressed, all shrouded in red, it looked like a newly wedded couple. Yep, newly-weds alright, whose honeymoon period had been cut short because the iron lady just thought so. Seeing their interaction, or lack thereof actually endorsed the adage that women are from Venus and Men from Mars. No wait. Mercury is the hottest planet right next to the sun, so I would bet this lady was actually a ‘Mercurian’ with a mercurial temperament.
So that was the redeeming act of the evening. Otherwise if Babujee had its way, we were in for a miserable evening.
Babujee is not offering a grand buffet by any stretch of the imagination. It’s your standard stuff – a few desi items with a couple of bbq items thrown in for good measure. If you’re looking for something extraordinary or uniquely different, Babujee is not the place for you.
TGI Fridays makes a comeback to Karachi after a hiatus of more than 12 years. Back then it opened shop at one of the most happening places of Karachi – The Point – now popularly called the Park Towers.
The Point was the place to be in 1998 as the mall culture hadn’t taken hold of this coastal town yet, and it was for all intents and purposes the start of that culture. And TGI Fridays was smack in the middle of this metamorphosis/paradigm shift.
We did have some good times there as it was the hangout for teenagers. It also was probably the first restaurant that kickstarted karaoke nights in this part of the world.
Sadly TGI Fridays couldn’t capitalize on it and left the Pakistani shores just a few short years later. It’s back again in town, and this time around it’s not in an envious position since the location isn’t very flattering, and the Karachi market is brimming with foreign franchises. Back then the Pakistani consumers didn’t have access to so many choices.
We decided to take TGI Fridays for a spin to see whether they have learnt any lessons from their last experience and offering something different especially when it comes to Ramadan deals.
TGI Fridays wasn’t very keen to offer any Iftar deal in Ramadan even in their last outing in Karachi, and although this time around they’re offering a deal, they might as well have not offered anything at all. That’s because their Ramadan deal isn’t adding any value to the customer.
TGI Fridays Iftar Deal
So what is TGI Fridays’ iftar deal all about?
Frankly, it’s one of the worst iftar deals I’ve come across in my 14 years experience of dissecting Ramadan deals. Not because of the items it is offering in its deals, but because of the actual value it is offering to the customers.
TGI Fridays is charging Rs.1395 + tax = Rs.1618.2 for its so-called Iftar deal. But if you buy all the items in this deal individually, the price comes out to be the same, and in some cases, less than the deal. So in reality, you lose money when you opt for this deal.
The following are the items TGI Fridays is offering part of the iftar deal:
Portion of Bean Fries
Soup of the Day/Salad
One main entrée from a selection
Soft drink/mineral water/iced tea
Now let’s do a simple calculation to determine the value if you bought them individually:
See what I mean? You could have had all this at only Rs.1175 instead of the Iftar deal of Rs.1395 if you bought it out of the deal. Even if you the bean fries at full Rs.300, even then the total price comes out to be Rs.1375, Rs.20 less than the Iftar deal price.
Yes, restaurants make a killing in Ramadan season by offering enticing deals to lure the hapless customer. But in almost all of them, there’s a semblance of value addition for the customer and it’s not a complete rip-off.
Like I said before, TGI Fridays’ Ramadan offering is probably the worst iftar deal Karachiites have ever seen. And TGI Fridays needs to spank the naughty boy who came up with this raw deal for the customers. Not a good start for their first Ramadan after the comeback.
When you consider awesome deals like what Johnny Rockets is offering, this one just pales in comparison.
And now we dissect the items themselves in the Iftar deal.
TGI Fridays Cream Mushroom Soup
The soup of the day as part of the iftar deal at TGI Fridays that day was cream mushroom soup. And it was delectable. Contrary to what most restaurants serve, the soup had a hefty helping of mushrooms and the taste was enough to send your taste buds into overdrive. It got us all excited about the main course ahead. Little did we know what horrors lay ahead of us.
TGI Fridays Fried Mozzarella
As part of the Iftar deal, we were supposed to get the fried bean fries but instead they gave the fried mozzarella served with a sauce that use as base for a pizza. It was alright, nothing to write home about.
TGI Fridays Tennessee Grill Chicken
Now I’ve never been to Tennessee and apart from the fact that the place is crawling with ghosts and ghouls, which Hollywood flicks have led me to believe, I can’t really comment on how Tennesseans like to have their grilled chicken. But I can’t really believe they like to have their grilled chicken rock hard, as if it has been languishing in a hell-hole for centuries just like the ghosts of Tennessee’s, and that it has been set free just now by some accidental human intervention.
That’s how harrowing the grilled chicken experience was. Portion-size wise, it was one of the most substantial portions I’ve ever seen on a platter of grilled chicken in any restaurant. But then again, when you’re charging Rs.1025 plus tax for a mere grilled chicken, you better fill the plate properly. And fill they did with three large breast pieces sidled with a generous helping of fries and a not-so-generous one of onion rings. The two sidelines are a customer’s choice.
So the platter was enough to satiate your appetite. Only problem was, how to get through the ordeal of munching on centuries old chicken. You knew you were in for some hard times when you tried to slice your way through the first chicken breast. It was harder than cutting a piece of rare beef steak. And if by some miracle you did manage to cut off a piece, trying to chew it was a challenge that would have delighted the likes of Fear Factor participants.
And it was really mind-boggling because the presentation of the Tennessee grilled chicken was spot on.
Something just wasn’t adding up. You looked at the inviting chicken breast, your mouth salivated. You munched on the breast, your entire mouth went dry as if the chicken had sucked all your saliva into it.
There was a sort of a sauce that came with the chicken in a small pot that seemed to have a specific gravity even less than water! Now wait, it was a gravy. I’ve no idea what the hell it was, but it did nothing to ease the tormenting, apart from lending a sweetened taste to the whole proceedings.
We tried in vain to ease the suffering by adding the mustard, the bbq sauce, whatever we could find on the table one after the other. All in vain.
In the end we gave up. The damned chicken from the depths of Tennessean hell won.
TGI Fridays Swiss Mushroom Burger
TGI Fridays Swiss Mushroom Burger was a treat to watch. It appeared large, with a succulent albeit rare beef patty sandwiched in between with a hefty dose of melted swiss cheese, mushrooms, pickles and onions.
Until we bit into it. The sensation was…….. nothing. Yep. You heard me. Nothing at all. No wait. That’s not entirely true. You could taste the pickles. But that’s just about it.
It really is a feat to devise a burger garnished with a dozen things and yet they all add up to a create a senseless sensation. We were a bit apprehensive about the rare beef patty since it looked almost raw- it was that pink. But our fears were unfounded. There wasn’t any taste in it.
Yet again, we were starkly reminded of the Tennessean connection. Maybe it wasn’t beef at all, but the remnants of a witch that was buried centuries ago in a Tennessee haunted house and now imported directly from that God forsaken place for the twisted palates of the Pakistanis. Scenes from the movie The Conjuring conjured up in our mind.
The only positive aspect of this fiasco is the freshness of the bun, something which is seen wanting at most foreign franchises. Moreover, the beef patty was thicker than the bun itself. Now if only it had some semblance of taste as well.
At Rs. 900 plus tax, it promises to stuff you silly without bothering your taste buds.
TGI Fridays Prayer Area
The prayer area was basically a corner in the main dining hall that was in full view of the public and could accommodate just one person at a time. However, that wasn’t much of a problem considering most of the diners weren’t bothered to offer their Maghrib prayers, so you could easily offer yours if you wanted to. But if you’re female, that could be a bit of a problem, unless you’ve no issues offering it in stark view of everyone in the diner.
TGI Fridays Iftar Deal Verdict
TGI Fridays may have positioned itself as casual dining the world over, but the prices they’re charging in this part of the world are way above what the casual diner pays in Pakistan. Casual dining in this part of the world means having a Rs.200-300 fast food or a plate of biryani at a local restaurant, not something in the range of Rs.1000-1500.
So TGI Fridays prices are skewed more towards the fine dining range, and as such when a discerning customer pays a visit, he will expect an experience a whole lot more than just casual in terms of the quality of food he’s being served, considering the price he’s paying for it.
TGI Fridays does appear to have made a comeback considering the crowd they’re pulling in right at the outset, but that can be a misleading indicator in a city where foreign franchises are a dime a dozen and competition from the local food operators is stiff.
If TGI Fridays can just add some zest to their offerings, it does stand a chance to not let history repeat itself.
Johnny Rockets has been around in Karachi for just a year, and in that time it has managed to attract a decent following. Mind you, Johnny Rockets couldn’t have launched at a worse time than this, when all the burger walas both local and foreign are locked in a cutthroat battle to dominate the scene.
If Johnny Rockets had launched just a couple of years ago, it would have definitely garnered far more followers in half the time because there weren’t that many burger brands to begin with. But now with the advent of Hardee’s, Fatburger and Burger King, not to mention the local gourmet burger brands, the competition is intense.
Due to all this, Johnny Rockets did not have a good response at the launch. I checked it out just a day after the launch and although Johnny Rockets appeared to be doing brisk business, it was nowhere the response that Hardee’s or even Fatburger. People had to stand in queues just to enter Hardee’s for at least two weeks after the launch.
So it hasn’t been easy going for Johnny Rockets. But to tilt the odds in its favor, Johnny Rockets has come up with a tantalizing Ramadan deal for the iftar.
The deal may not have been so lucrative had the other burger franchises including Burger King, Hardees and McDonads come up with ‘bigger bang for the buck’ deals. As things stand, none of the foreign franchises has come up with anything to write home about and Johnny Rockets has been able to run away with the prom queen.
So what’s so special about Johnny Rockets iftar deal that others can’t match it?
The great thing about Johnny Rockets Iftar Deal
Johnny Rockets has been able to pull off what Pizza Hut did so well for almost a decade before losing their mind and dropping the deal. Pizza Hut plugged into Pakistani consumer insights that they like to be run loose on food without any constraints, and that they’re given the license to wolf down the food with unlimited drinks. This Pizza Hut deal was a runaway success and was emulated by so many not only local pizza parlors but other restaurants as well.
Johnny Rockets iftar deal is not exactly an ‘all you can eat’ offering but it does include unlimited drinks. What’s more the food offered is enough to satiate the appetite of the fattest of us. Most restaurants in Pakistan both local and foreign underestimate the importance of unlimited drinks. Soft drinks are the cheapest aspect of any restaurant’s offering, and by giving unlimited drink option to their customers, not only are they limiting the eating capacity of the customers thereby saving on the more expensive food, they’re fulfilling the craving of the Pakistani consumer for fizzy drinks, more so since this Ramadan has come in summer.
But Johnny Rockets leveraged this insight to the hilt. And maybe because of this, their food offering appeared to be more fulfilling than it actually was. That’s a brilliant strategy.
So what exactly is Johnny Rockets offering as far as the food is concerned?
A salad bowl, chicken tenders, burgers [choice of three flavors] and ice cream all for Rs. 800 + tax or simply Rs.928 per head. It may look pricey but when take it into perspective of the other deals in town which will set you back by as much as Rs.1500-2000, this is actually a bargain.
On the face of it, this may not sound sufficient but believe me, when you get down to eating it, it’s enough to make your stomach bloat like a balloon.
Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger
Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger comprises of a beef patty topped with beef bacon strip, crispy onion ring and cheddar cheese and smeared with the ‘smoke house’ sauce.
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger is pretty much the same as smoke house burger minus the crispy onion rings. For all we know, this may have been a mistake by the cook because they both tasted remarkably similar.
Johnny Rockets St.Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St.Louise Burger was the one markedly different from both smoke house and beef bacon. It comprised of the standard beef patty, swiss cheese, grilled onions, iceberg lettuce, pickles and some special ‘St Louise’ sauce.
Whether it was the sauce or the combination of different ingredients, the St. louse burger resonated with my taste buds more than the other two. In any case, it was nearer in taste to the classic hamburger with the patty appearing to be juicier as well.
Johnny Rockets Ice cream
There wasn’t any choice of flavors. You could only have vanilla. And the vanilla tasted pretty much like the vanillas of the branded ice cream walas like Wall’s and Omore instead of the taste of a homemade or in-house ice cream as claimed by Johnny Rockets. Hardly their forte if they indeed are making the ice cream on their own.
The bad thing about Johnny Rockets Iftar Deal
The biggest shortcoming of the Johnny Rockets iftar deal is that it is limited to either four or six person. Any other number and it would cease to be a bargain deal.
The second shortcoming was the actual size of the burgers for the deal. This wasn’t the same burger I had couple of months ago at Johnny Rockets. Those were humungous burgers that Johnny Rockets was offering at the start of its venture in Karachi.
Now either Johnny Rockets has reduced the size of its burgers altogether, or it has come up with a shrunken burger tailor made for this Ramadan deal.
The chili fries were a bit of a disappointment. It was claimed in the ad that the fries would be topped with cheddar cheese. Instead they were topped with some black ‘garam masala’ wala sauce that was not palatable.
All in all Johnny Rockets iftar deal is a must-try this Ramadan, but only if you can come up with four or six people.
Johnny Rockets is offering one of the most interesting Iftar deals by any foreign franchise this Ramadan. The only downside of Johnny Rockets iftar deal is that it is limited to fixed persons – either 4 or 6 persons. Any number of persons other than that, and the deal falls flat.
Johnny Rockets Ramadan Deal:
This is what Johnny Rockets is offering as part of its Ramadan deal:
4 or 6 drinks with unlimited refills
4 or 6 chicken tenders
4 or 6 burgers [Choice of beef bacon, smoke house and st. louise burger]
The Patio Iftar Dinner Deal is one of the most basic deals available in the market as far as Ramadan deals go. Only you order two main dishes at the Patio, you’ll be given an Iftar platter comprising of the following:
Pure Health Cafe Iftar Deal looks to be something a bit out of the ordinary from the usual suspects. Although Pure Health Cafe is offering a drink, platter and dessert for Rs.500 plus tax, it hasn’t given the details of either the platter or the dessert which makes it difficult to choose this from the plethora of Ramadan deals on offer in the market, or to even gauge whether this iftar deal is worth Rs.600 odd.
Pure Health Cafe is the newest kid on the block and this is their first ever Ramadan. It remains to be seen whether Pure Health Cafe is able to compete with the industry giants.
Salt’ n Pepper Village Restaurant Ramadan Deal is a bit on the expensive side at Rs.1391. What’s more Salt’ n Pepper Village hasn’t even mentioned whether this is inclusive of tax or tax is additional. Nor have they listed the menu items in their Ramadan deal.
Compared to other desi buffet dinner deals pertaining to Ramadan, Salt’ n Pepper Village’s deal looks like middle of the road.
Subway is offering a choice of Roasted beaf & cheese, Turkey Breast, Sliced Chicken, Chicken Teriyaki or BBQ Chicken for the 6 inch sub as part of the deal. For the free sub, you don’t have to pick the same one but can choose any other.
Dunkin Donuts is offering Fast & Feast Deal in Rs. 450/= all over Pakistan. It’s not the best deal on the market and Dunkin Donuts would do well to come up with a number of different Ramadan deals to entice a larger segment of the target market.
What’s Dunkin Donuts is Offering in Iftar Deal
What’s more Dunkin Donuts hasn’t specified the items in its Ramadan deal. Judging from the items shown in the visual, it looks like there is a chicken croissant, pizza, donut and a drink that looks like ice tea.
All in all it appears a very lurkwarm approach by Dunkin Donuts in the face of fierce competition this Ramadan.
Burger King is offering two different iftar deals this Ramadan, both of which are a bit vague in that they haven’t mentioned the specifics of it unless you can make out what is what from the visual.
Burger King is relatively new in the Pakistani market and in fact this is Burger King’s very first Ramadan in Pakistan. It remains to be see how Burger King competes with the likes of Hardee’s and Johnny Rockets as far as Ramadan deals go.