Category Archives: Rs.100-200

Zeenan Snacks-80s Star

Zeenan is one of those ancient restaurants that have survived the winds of change. Located on a strategic corner of Muhammad Ali Society Food Street opposite the ever-green Kaybees, it’s past its glorious days of the 80s and early 90s when the street was famous for everything barbeque. Then the wave of fast food swept the city and Kaybees was the first one to leverage it and go way past the compet

ition.

Zeenan just waded the water of the snack category instead of taking the plunge. In the end it manages to be specialist of neither. However, it’s still standing unlike it’s neighboring restaurant Spinzer which was part of the raging success along with Kaybees and Vimpy’s in the good old days.

On a weekend night, Zeenan manages to get quite a few customers but for the rest of the week it’s mostly deserted.

Part of the reason it manages to survive is its enviable position on a corner of a famous food street. The other part has got to do with its offerings. The best dish we have tasted so far is the Grilled Chicken Cheese Sandwich which is the best in this category. Most of the grilled sandwiches you will try in the same category of restaurants are either too well-done or just filled with chunks of chicken pieces with no real taste. Zeenan on the other hand has a definite taste, and its sumptuous factor is comparable to that of the Kaybees’ grilled sandwich.

The other good thing about Zeenan’s offering is the coleslaw. Very few cafes and restaurants are able to prepare the perfect coleslaw. Zeenan apparently has mastered this ability. On the face of it may not appear that big a deal but the way this salad has seeped imperceptibly into the hearts of the Karachiites, no snack is complete without it. And the better the taste of this sideline, the more appealing the meal. Even the compulsory fries were better than most snack bars.

Their beef burger, however, is no match for the grilled sandwich. Which is surprising considering that the sidelines are the same good ones. We found that the patty was a bit rubbery although taste-wise it wasn’t that bad. And the size of the burger was way too small considering its price of Rs.100 +.

The brain masala wasn’t much to write home about either.

The biggest reason Zeenan hasn’t met with the sort of success Kaybees has enjoyed is its lack of presentation and an aesthetically pleasing ambiance. While Kaybees has piled on the bells and whistles to its brand positioning, Zeenan offers a bland picture reminiscent of the scene in the 80s.

Zeenan Snacks could be a whole lot more if only it invests shrewdly into its presentation. While going head-on against Kaybees may not be the cleverest thing to do, emulating some of their tactics especially the aesthetics part would work wonders for it.

786 Fast Food: Rocking or Flopping?

Just a few years ago, a Food Street was a big thing. The Nazims and all the bureaucrats  made a hoopla of developing of Food Streets where people can come and have a rollicking time as if that would miraculously jump start tourism in this part of the world.

Truth of the matter is, the sprawling metropolis of Karachi has without any aid or help from the government spawned a number of such streets brimming with eateries. How in devil’s name did these develop so meticulously on their own is a million euro question (dollar being out of favor).

Apart from the renowned Boating Basin and Burnes Road, you’ve got the Sajji street on University Road, the Karhai Walas on Super Highway, the Fast Food streets in Azizabad, North Nazimabad and Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Kabab Roll mania in Khadda Market Defence,the BBQ street in Bahadurabad, and the Nihari  Street in F.B Area which is also the topic of interest here.

The Nihari Street in Dastaghir, F.B Area came about as a result of the famous Jawaid ki Nihari. Another uniqueness of this street is that it has a halwa puri wala which offers this morning delicacy even at night!

But that’s not the topic of discussion here. It is the 786 Fast Food right across the street from Jawaid Nihari. We have always emphasized on the crucial importance of the location and the 786 people couldn’t have got it more right on that particular street. The next crucial thing after location comes the product behind the brand, in this case the food. In order to make it big, the taste as well as the quantity of food should at least be at par with that particular category, also referred to as the POP (Point of Parity).

786 has done wonderfully well on both these counts. The taste although not great, is good enough, and the quantity is enough to stuff a normal healthy stomach. We tested two of their core meals, the Zinger and the Club Sandwich, and they passed with flying colors on both these dishes.

So, is 786 going to become the next Fast Food chain to dethrone Hanifia  or even Mr. Burger? No.

Why? Because it hasn’t got any POD (Point of Differentiation) to be worthy of contention for greatness. The taste is alright, but it’s the same as the other Zinger walas- there’s just no uniqueness about it.

The quantity is fulfilling, but then that’s the case in many other local fast food haunts. If it had made the portion size a gigantic one, something which the consumer couldn’t consume without bursting at the seams, well that would have made for a great POD.

Another small but clever POD it could have come up with was instead of using a standard mayonnaise, it could have used the garlic mayo one, something which the Karachiites are very fond of. And it could have used that not only in the Zinger burger but in the club sandwich as well. That sort of innovation would serve the joint well.

Another cardinal rule they have broken is offering too many items. Although they are a fast food joint, they are offering everything under the sun from Chinese stuff  to Shashlik and Chicken Garlic. Instead they ought to focus on a few items and try to offer innovations on them.

So, should you head towards the joint? Only if you are in the area and you are in the mood for a quick bite, otherwise there’s no need to come all the way to this place when you can have the same things with the same taste just about anywhere in Karachi.

Khan Snacks and Broast

Khan Snacks and Broast is one of the oldest fast food joints in Karachi. Located near the Water-Pump Chowrangi (now a proper intersection) in F.B Area, it is one of the pioneers of broast-making in this part of the world.

Even now when a million fast food joints are offering this delicacy, Khan’s version remains remarkably differentiated. It’s rivals have utterly failed to copy its competitive advantage. But it’s not just the broast itself that is uniquely created. The bun, the fries, the raita, even the ketchup is radically different from the rest of the pack. And the coleslaw is out of this world!

Over the years, we feel that the size of their broast has shrunk while the prices like the rest of them have gone up. And herein lies an opportunity for some brand to offer substantial size chicken pieces at the same prices. Even with average taste, this brand will definitely prosper.

Khan’s burgers, however, are not that sumptuous. Especially the beef buger tastes like a home-made version. Its beef patty is your standard ‘Kachchey Qeemay ka kabab’.  However, if you fancy the home-cooked taste, you’re going to love it. The chicken version fares just a wee bit better.

However, unlike other fast food joints in the same category, Khan’s burgers are guaranteed to satiate your appetite- they are that big. What’s more, unlike other fast food joints which offer raita only with the broast, Khan offers it even with the burgers – with unlimited refilling.

The chicken zinger, however, doesn’t have a unique taste and tastes just like your standard local zinger in any other fast food joint. Its size though is substantial, guaranteed to fill you up to the brim. Although the bun is of standard size, the crusty patty is humungous, protruding from both sides of the bun. In most of the local fast food joints, the zinger patty is either too crusty with literally no meat inside or simply meat with no flakes. Khan’s version offers the perfect blend of crust with meat.

The prices are pretty much the same compared to the competition. The broast is around Rs.120, so is the zinger. The beef burger is priced at Rs.70.

Over the years, the taste has remained remarkably consistent, and surprisingly, so is the menu. While the competition offers everything under the sun from Chinese cuisine to shashlik, Khan broast has confined itself to just the basic fast food items, adding only zinger along the way and not bothering to offer even the club sandwich which is the prerequisite of any fast food joint.

There’s an even an urban legend associated with Khan’s. They say Khan’s earnings from catering and normal dining is a whopping Rs. 2 lac per day. Now that can’t be right? Or is it?

Stranger things are happened though in this city of lights.

Whatever the stories, there’s one fact that you cannot ignore, and that is, you need to go and indulge yourself in Khan’s delicacies.

Chaman Ice Cream Parlor

Lahore, akin to Karachi, is not well known for upscale ice cream parlors. Maybe the packaged ice cream brands have done a remarkable job of keeping the consumer demand for the category satiated, maybe the Pakistani consumer doesn’t fancy ice cream as much as he fancies the halwas and the mithais, or maybe there’s a tremendous vacuum in this category and there’s no shrewd marketer to realize this opportunity.

In any case, both these mega cities fair poorly in this category.  In the category just below it, the one-size-fit-all ice cream parlor which tries to be everything to everyone, the track record of these two cities is not that bad. But even here, monopolistic trends reign supreme. For instance, when you say Lahore, the ice cream brand that is top-of-mind (apart from the packaged Yummy) is Chaman. Value-wise, this is equivalent to Baloch Ice Cream in Karachi, but while Baloch has a number of outlets all over Karachi, Chaman has just three in Lahore. And while Baloch has a strong competition, Chaman is almost a monopoly over there.

And now Chaman has arrived in Karachi. It started off with a fairly average launch, concentrating mostly on billboards to announce the arrival with no special deal offered on the launch, in fact no USP whatsoever. What it did do extremely well is get hold of ideal locations, both from the point of view of the target market and the number of members of the target market frequenting the area. It has opened two shops, one at Tariq Road near KFC, the other at Boating Basin.

And yet the place is not doing as well as it does in Lahore, in fact not as good as any good ice cream parlor ought to do.

But why? One of the major reasons is that the Chaman owner thought that it was already a well-established brand in Lahore and that the people of Karachi would know about it, even having tasted it on their visits to Lahore. Unfortunately for the Chaman guy, this assumption didn’t work.

Secondly, Chaman is charging a somewhat premium price of Rs. 50 per two scoops, again probably having the line of thinking that it is already an established brand and can charge whatever it wants. It’s strongest competitor, Baloch Ice Cream, has priced the same cup size at Rs. 35-40 depending upon the flavor.

Yes, there’s nothing wrong with charging premium pricing but you do need to be able to justify it. Chaman should definitely have done some brand activation, even reminding people of the rich heritage of Chaman in Lahore. It didn’t do that. It just put up a few billboards and they also give the impression that it was a new shop and not the king brand of Lahore.

The result is for all to see. Both the outlets are fairly deserted most of the time in spite of the fact that they are located at prime spots of Karachi.

Finally, the lackluster performance of Chaman is to an extent related to its taste. Although it has quite a number of flavors, more than most of the competitors, the taste itself is not that unique. It could be a case of Karachiites not liking the Lahori taste. It could be a case of Karachiites already having tasted similar tastes in other parlors at a much lower cost. That’s a disadvantage Chaman has in Karachi, a city which offers the ice cream consumer a plethora of choices in terms of prices and taste. It’s like being a big fish in a small pond to suddenly becoming a small fish in a very large ocean, although Lahore is no small pond by any stretch of the imagination, in this case it does.

When we tested five of their flavors – strawberry,vanilla, banana, pista and tutti fruit, they tasted more like the packaged ice cream brands rather than the handmade brands. And yes, that is a disadvantage. On top of that, Chaman doesn’t offer any toppings or cone options, a feature which has become a perquisite for any ice cream parlor in Karachi in this category.  They do have their sundaes and other similar desserts though.

So what can Chaman do to turn things around in Karachi?

The cheapest option would be to go for a social media strategy, targeting youth havens Facebook and Twitter. If that’s not possible, then go the traditional way of creating and distributing flyers. But what do the flyers proclaim? Just making flyers about the brand and its location is not going to cut it. What Chaman needs is to come up with innovative ways of offering its ice cream. Buy 1 get 1 free on the slowest night or day. Eat all you can ice cream option at an extremely affordable rate.

Most restaurateurs would balk at the idea of an ice cream parlor offering buffet. But why not? If you have a number of flavors, nothing should be stopping you from offering the buffet option. How much can the consumer eat anyway? A dozen scoops at the most. Just look at the positive side. Your ice cream would start turning over, meaning you don’t have to throw away the half your lot just because it didn’t get consumed. Then you’ll know which flavors the target market is favoring, and then position your offering accordingly.

Come up with innovative flavors. Chocolate cum vanilla, or vanilla chips, a tactic which Hot Spot excels at and which plays a major part in its popularity.

These two options represent just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of things that Chaman can do to enhance its brand equity in Karachi without having to change the original recipe. But sitting on your butt expecting the brand to lift off on its own without any push is a sure recipe for disaster.

chaman consumerater
chaman consumerater

Café Student – Losing focus on its Biryani

If there’s one success story that epitomizes the ‘Rags-to-Riches’ story in Pakistan, it is student biryani, now branded as Café Student. The brand has gone from strength to strength over a period of more than 30 years. And where did it all start? As a thelay wala biryani seller on the very spot where its first ever shop is now located in Saddar behind Rainbow Centre. Continue reading Café Student – Losing focus on its Biryani

One on One: Best Fast Food Clone of KFC

One on One is one of those restaurants that has everything going for it except one thing- Location. And how many restaurants and cafes we have seen over the years that looked set to take over the city’s ‘foodscape’ but suddenly ceased to exist owing to just this ‘L’. Hell, some have vanished even when they had everything going for him including the crucial ‘L’.

Remember ‘Al-Baik’? Not the one that opened in North Nazimabad a couple of years back. That fizzled out because of bad service and exorbitant charges. Continue reading One on One: Best Fast Food Clone of KFC

Milano Ice Cream Parlor

If there is one thing that Karachi seriously lacks in, it’s ice cream parlors. Yes, there are a few of them, some of them really good ones, but that hardly justifies the stats considering the sheer size of this mega city.

Milano, a highly unlikely name for an ice cream parlor, is a new entrant in this category. Location-wise it’s right up there, on the busy thoroughfare of Dhoraji, right alongside Meerath Kabab house. And the fact that there’s only one other ice cream on the entire street, and that also neither upscale nor close to it, adds value to this place. Continue reading Milano Ice Cream Parlor

Subway’s Rs.169 Special Deal

When it comes to special offers, Subway takes the lead over all the other foreign franchises operating in Pakistan. Maybe this has got something to do with the fact that amongst all the foreign brands in Pakistan, Subway has had the toughest time. 10 years down the line, they have managed to capture a meager 6% of the market share in contrast to KFC lion’s share of 29%, Pizza Hut with 23% and McDonald’s with 18%.  Although Nando’s is at 6% as well, but then Nando’s hasn’t had the run that Subway has plus it doesn’t have that many outlets compared to the strong network of Subway.

(These market share stats were determined through an online survey conducted by Dawn.com and the results published in Aurora magazine). Continue reading Subway’s Rs.169 Special Deal

Hot n Tasty Roll & BBQ: Just another roll wala?

Silver Spoon Snacks was the pioneer of the kabab roll, but the credit for creating the modern kabab roll goes to Red Apple, Eaton and Hot n Spicy. The difference between the two is that the new one is bulkier and has an array of choices to go with the actual filling. You can have garlic mayo sauce with chicken malai boti, cheese with beef behari boti, or plain boti with chutni- the varieties are endless.

Following the success of these four giants, everyone is on a rush to jump on the roll kabab bandwagon. Hot n Tasty is one of those. Neither the name nor the signboard has any originality to it. You could visit dozens of such shops with the same name and aura. Hell, even the product offering is virtually the same. It’s a second degree clone of the actual thing. The size is slightly on the smaller side, even the ‘botis’ are not sufficient, and the paratha is way too soaked in oil. The garlic mayo sauce, however, was tasty, something which many of these me-too shops fail to emulate.

The inside of the place is something best not talked about. It looked like it was a barbershop which got converted into a restaurant. The walls are painted with some strange reflector material. It’s best to stay outside in your car and eat there instead of entering this small hall devoid of any pleasant ambience. That way you wouldn’t have to know the hygiene factor of the place, which it isn’t on the high side either. But then what do you expect from such a place.

The location of the place, well that’s it’s biggest advantage. It’s right on the front road coming from the Bahadurabad chowrangi going towards Sharafabad. What’s more, it doesn’t have any competition on the front, except Roll Corner which is situated deep in the lane opposite the Tooso. But it’s a pretty stiff competition. Roll Corner is right in the league of the four major giants and had it been on the front street, it would have blown away any competition within striking distance.

We tested the tikka of Hot n Tasty as well, and like its other items, it’s also just alright, nothing more.

In short, this fledgling shop has all the ingredients for going up the success ladder, the biggest being its location. All it needs is for its owner to shed his myopic vision and aim for the long term by exceeding customer expectations instead of disappointing them by offering below average stuff.

Tasty Roll
Tasty Roll