Babujee Iftar Deal at Port Grand Fails to Hit The Mark

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.

Babujee Iftar Deal
Babujee Iftar Deal

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:

  1. Chicken haleem
  2. Beef nihari
  3. Steamed rice
  4. Chicken biryani
  5. Fish in garlic sauce
  6. Chicken n vegetable sauce
  7. Chicken karhai
  8. Tawa fish
  9. Chicken boti
  10. Seekh kabab
  11. Prawn tempura
  12. Caramel custard
  13. Kheer
  14. Fruit trifle
  15. Cake
  16. Tarts
  17. Jelly
  18. Assorted salads

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.

Babujee Iftar Deal
Babujee Iftar Deal
Babujee Iftar Deal
Babujee Iftar Deal
Babujee Iftar Deal
Babujee Iftar Deal
Babujee Iftar Deal
Babujee Iftar Deal
Babujee Fish n chicken boti
Babujee Fish n chicken boti
Babujee Fish n chicken boti
Babujee Fish n chicken boti

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.

 

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Johnny Rockets Ramadan Blast

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?

Johnny Rockets Karachi Pakistan
Johnny Rockets Karachi Pakistan

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.

Johnny Rockets salad
Johnny Rockets salad
Johnny Rockets chicken tender
Johnny Rockets chicken tender
Johnny Rockets salad
Johnny Rockets salad
Johnny Rockets chicken tender
Johnny Rockets chicken tender
Johnny Rockets salad
Johnny Rockets salad

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 Smoke House Burger
Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger
Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger
Johnny Rockets Smoke House Burger

 

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 Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

 

Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger
Johnny Rockets Beef Bacon Burger

 

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.

Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger
Johnny Rockets St. Louis Burger

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.

Johnny Rockets vanilla ice cream
Johnny Rockets vanilla ice cream
Johnny Rockets vanilla ice cream
Johnny Rockets vanilla ice cream

The bad thing about Johnny Rockets Iftar Deal

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

 

  1. 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.

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Johnny Rockets Iftar Ramadan Deal

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:

  1. 4 or 6 drinks with unlimited refills
  2. 4 or 6 chicken tenders
  3. salad bowl
  4. chili fries
  5. 4 or 6 burgers [Choice of beef bacon, smoke house and st. louise burger]
  6. 4 or 6 ice cream

GO through the Johnny Rockets review of the deal to better understand the value of this deal.

Johnny Rockets Iftar Ramadan deal
Johnny Rockets Iftar Ramadan deal

The Patio Iftar Dinner Deal

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:

The Patio Iftar Platter:

  1. Dahi bara
  2. Fish fingers
  3. Qeema samosa
  4. Aaloo chana chaat

THE PATIO Clifton
F-50/1, Block 4, Clifton Karachi, Pakistan.
Karachi , Pakistan   View Map

Phone: (92-213) 530-9871

The Patio Iftar Dinner
The Patio Iftar Dinner

Daily Dubai Restaurant Iftar Buffet Dinner

Daily Dubai Restaurant located at main Badar Commercial Area in DHA Phase 6, Karachi is offering an interesting iftar buffet dinner at Rs.850 + tax. The following is the Daily Dubai restaurant menu as part of its Ramadan deal:

Daily Dubai Restaurant Iftar Menu:

  1. Fruit salad
  2. Green Salad
  3. Chicken spring roll
  4. Chana chaat
  5. Qeema samosa
  6. Hummus
  7. Juices, Rooh Afza

Daily Dubai Restaurant Buffet Menu:

  1. Mutton ribs
  2. Malai tikka boti
  3. Mutton qeema hari mirch
  4. Reshmi Kabab
  5. Chicken Karahi
  6. Mutton Paye
  7. Nihari
  8. Chicken biryani
  9. Afghani Pulao
  10. Mix sbazi
  11. Special daal
  12. Steam rice
  13. Kheer
  14. Custard & Jelly
daily dubai iftar dinner buffet
daily dubai iftar dinner buffet

Daily Dubai Restaurant Karachi DHA
Badar Commercial Street 10, DHA Phase 5 Defence
Karachi , Pakistan

Phone: 021-35244018

Cafe Downtown Ramadan Iftar Deal

Cafe Downtown located at the emerging food street on Khayaban-e-Seher, DHA Karachi offers an Iftar deal at Rs.1800 [good enough for two] which is quite limited in its choice of meals. This Ramadan deal offers the following items:

Cafe Downtown Iftar Deal for Two:

  1. Chana chaat
  2. Fruit chaat
  3. Lemonade & Rooh afza
  4. Any choice of chicken burger from menu
  5. Schezwan or stir fried vegetable chicken
  6. Downtown special brownie or chocolate mousse
  7. 2 soft drinks

United King Iftar Buffet Deal

United King the most famous bakery in Karachi Pakistan is now offering for the first time an All You Can Eat Iftar Deal only at its Clifton outlet for Rs.875 inclusive of tax. This Ramadan deal is not really a buffet dinner deal as most of the items included are mostly snack pertaining to Iftar.

The following are the items you can expect to have in this United King bakery’s iftar deal:

 United King Iftar

  1. Sharbat
  2. Jalebi
  3. Samosa
  4. Spring roll
  5. Mix pakora

Buffet Dinner

  1. Salad
  2. Pizza
  3. Chicken pasta
  4. Fried chicken
  5. Drink
United-King-Ramadan-Deal
United-King-Ramadan-Deal

United King

Phone Number: (021) 111-022-022
Address: Near Bombay Light House, III Talwar, Block 8, Clifton, Karachi, Pakistan
Website: http://www.unitedking.com

 

Abaan Taste of Lebanon

Abaan is a Lebanese restaurant that has opened up recently in Karachi to cash in on the growing Pakistani interest in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Although a handful of Arabic cuisine restaurants exist in Karachi, almost all of them are open-air cafesque types. What’s more they aren’t the upscale types a la Zamzama. Although they do offer some semblance of Lebanese cuisine, they aren’t predominantly Lebanese.

Kababji in Sheraton was the only premium Lebanese restaurant in Karachi. Now enter Abaan, which aspires to offer stiff competition to Kababji. And judging by the initial response it’s getting, it can prove to be a star in the making.

We checked the place out on a Saturday night. And it passed the litmus test, for a sizeable crowd on a weekend gives you a rough idea that the place will not crash and burn before it even takes off.

[slickr-flickr tag=”lebanon”]

The initial response Abaan is getting is due to two major factors: one, it has advertised in Dawn and second it has a Facebook page with around 116 fans. Most of them will check the place out at least once, and if it’s any good, will refer it to friends and family as well.

Secondly, it is the only restaurant in Karachi where you can consume Arabic/Lebanese cuisine in an upscale setting. Apart from Sheraton’s Kabab ji, there’s no other A-list restaurant catering to this segment. As such this is an attractive niche that Abaan has positioned itself in.

However, it’s survival in the long run will depend upon a couple of critical factors. The biggest of them is the location. Even if the owners couldn’t afford space on Zamzama or the rapidly developing food avenue on Khayabane Shahbaz, they could at least have rented space in some other happening commercial district, even Khayabane-Ittehad would have sufficed. Khayaban-e-Jami maybe a major link road, but it doesn’t have any restaurant or even any other major shop.

If this wasn’t enough, Abaan has opened up in the office of advertising agency BBCL. When you enter a restaurant, the last thing you want to see is an office and a photography studio. But that’s precisely what you’re faced with upon entering Abaan. The actual restaurant is on the 2nd floor of BBCL’s office for which you’ve to take the elevator. Spoils the ambience right then and there.  First impressions being everlasting is an adage that still holds true.

Another major shortcoming is the space or lack thereof. Although the ambience is acceptable with some Middle Eastern elements thrown in for good measure, the layout of the place is too stifling. If it was Zamzama where the rent is sky-high, it would have made sense to keep everything close, like most other restaurants on it.

But when you’re far away from the madding crowd, you ought to conjure up a spacious layout, where there’s ample privacy for each table.

Finally, the biggest problem Abaan will face is that of repeat customers. The thing is, a restaurant of this caliber (and stiff prices) needs select loyal customers who can afford to dine at the place multiple times a week. And most of these customers will be found on the Facebook Group SWOT where as many as 900 foodies share their experience of eating out.

Unfortunately, Abaan has already received a negative review on that forum. Which means most of the potential customers who can afford to bring repeat business to Abaan will be turned off by this following review posted on the SWOT group:

Osama Mustafa:

“I went to Abaan for dinner last night. The ambiance was nice we were promptly greeted and seated. We ordered the following dishes the Mezzeh platter for starters. And for the main course I ordered the chicken Shawarma and my wife ordered the chicken liver and sheesh Taouk and both of us ordered Liban as our drinks.
The Mezzeh platter had too many micro servings of the assorted starters too many irrelevant things were there not enough of the authentic items . The meat kebobs were over done on the outside and the crispy bread served was partially crispy with stale pieces in between. Now for the main course. The Sharwama in pita was pathetic. The meat was dry from being shaved in advance is my guess but the entire dish did do some time on the kitchen counter because it was lukewarm , the fries were soggy and the sauce had set with a dry layer . My wife’s chicken liver was a bit over cooked but the sauce was good thef sheesh taouk was also not fresh the meat was dry and looked like it had been sitting on the service counter her fries were also stale . To add insult to injury the drinks we ordered were 2 Laban one salty and one sweet to our surprise both tasted exactly the same sweet and salty. A note to the chef the nestle yoghurt you used to make our Laban is sweet and cannot be used in making a salty Laban. We sent both drinks back and the replacement tasted exactly the same. The experience left little desire to return. A note to restaurant owners there is nothing worse than serving a dish that has gone cold!!!! I did register the complaint with the Maitre d I was politely told that “things will be better next time”

And then there’s one positive review as well:

Samaya Alamgir:

“Ok so i just got back from Abaans on ittehad and i seriously dont know what the negative reviews were about!! the food is absolutely amazing! From the Hummus to the mixed grill to the baklava. Everything was splendid and much better than most places attempts at lebanese fare. I was reminded of Patoukh on Edgeware road in london.”

We decided to check Abaan out after reading this review. Yes, there are glitches in the presentation and quality of food but it’s not as bad as this review projects.

We started off with the assorted Mezzeh, which encompasses pretty much all the Arabic appetizers- hummous, tabouleh, mutabbal, baba ganoush, feta cheese the works. At Rs.450 exclusive of 17% GST, it’s a bit stiff.

Hummous was delectable but we felt it was way too tangy similar to the moutabel also called baba ganoush sometimes.

Tahini seems to be missing from the ingredients which was evident from the texture of hummous.

Although there’s no standard taste of hummous with numerous variations available throughout the world, still the majority refrain from making the hummous sour.

The Shish Kabab had French fries strewn all over it! It comprised of two skewers of lamb cubes which were charcoal grilled, a single skewer of grilled vegetables and a pita bread. Then there was the garlic sauce along with cucumber mint yoghurt. Priced at Rs.495, the serving size could have been much better. On top of that, the surface of lamb cubes was charcoaled excessively while the inner was slightly raw.

This points to the fact that the grilling was done in a hurry, which is baffling considering that the food was served a good 25 minutes after the order was taken.

On the face of it, that’s not bad, because some people prefer it that way- well done on the outside and slightly raw from the inside. However, not everyone is enthusiastic about this arrangement; therefore the waiter ought to ask how the customer prefers his meat to be done.

All in all the dish was palatable, and the garlic sauce played a major role in tilting the odds in the favor of the dish.

Service could have been a whole lot better. When they served the Mezzeh, they provided only one pita bread and didn’t mention that the refills were free. Only later when the main course had arrived that they brought another pita bread as a refill, which was too late.

Then they took their own sweet time revving up the generator when they lights went out. Even then they were indecisive, trying feebly to light up a candle as an afterthought. Only by then the generator had started. It would have been better had they lit up the tiny candles that were already placed on every table. That way the place wouldn’t remain shrouded in total darkness if the generator doesn’t fire right away.

The Abaan special ‘Kasbah’ was appalling. It was basically rice with tiny pieces of what seemed like boiled chicken and pieces of almonds mixed in. There was literally no distinct taste in it. And at Rs.195, the quantity wasn’t up to the mark.

If you’ve had this cuisine in the Middle East and yearn for the same taste, Abaan is not for you.

But if you’re simply looking to devour Arabic cuisine in a proper restaurant as opposed to the makeshift arrangements of Damascus and Arabian Nights, then Abaan is your best bet.  Although Kabab Ji at Sheraton fares much better, price-wise Kabab Ji is way too exorbitant and you’re better off checking out Abaan which offers better value for money.

Gun Smoke Steaks & Burgers

Gun Smoke continues to provide stiff competition to its competitors Arizona Grill and Copper Kettle with its wide array of burgers and steaks.

And Gun Smoke’s reputation has become bigger than the actual product behind the brand, which is precisely what brands are created for – to charge brand premium for the larger-than-life perception.

The biggest reason for this is that Gun Smoke has managed to cultivate more brand evangelists than its competition. These brand evangelists have not only joined the Gun Smoke Facebook page in droves (16,000+ todate), they have created video ads of Gun Smoke and uploaded them on youtube. Here are three of them:

Gun Smoke Promo

Gun Smoke ad

Now they may not be the most sensational ads you’ll ever see, but these ads are made by ordinary people who love this brand so much that they’ve put in the time and effort to create them. How many of Gun Smoke’s competitors can boast of this?

Consistency is  the second  most potent weapon of any powerful brand and Gun Smoke has it.

If you’ve been to Gun Smoke, you must be familiar with their menu pattern.  The basic offering of the main entrée remains the same, the only thing you change is the choice of meat – chicken or beef, and the item itself – burger or steak.

For instance, if you choose Mediterranean Garlic, you can have burger or steak in that particular recipe and within that category, beef or chicken. Confused? It’s like this:

  1. Mediterranean Garlic Beef Burger or
  2. Mediterranean Garlic Chicken Burger or
  3. Mediterranean Garlic Beef Steak or
  4. Mediterranean Garlic chicken steak

That means for every single recipe there are four combinations.

In the case of sandwiches and pasta, the scheme is a bit different.

Here’s the complete menu.

In this visit we tested four of their offerings: Mediterranean Garlic Steak (Beef), Whiskey River Steak (chicken),   Royal Burger (Chicken) and Gourmet Cheese Burger (Beef).

Whiskey River bbq steak-- Gun Smoke
Whiskey River bbq steak-- Gun Smoke
Mediterranean garlic beef steak- Gun Smoke
Mediterranean garlic beef steak- Gun Smoke

Although Gun Smoke’s steaks are pretty much renowned, taste-wise you would be hard-pressed to differentiate them from Copper Kettle, Arizona Grill, Roasters or even Secret Recipe.

Portion-wise you are going to end up disappointed. Gun Smoke could do a whole lot better in offering generous portion sizes like its rivals. While the rivals offer generous helping of vegetable, garlic sauce and French fries, Gun Smoke offered spinach. Can you believe that? Who would want to have that with steak? How does that work? (“Hey honey look, these fine cowboys are so concerned about our health they’re giving us spinach!”)

Maybe some people do fancy creamed spinach, none from our party did. A better strategy is to offer options, something that doesn’t require any extra effort on their part, like buttered sweet corn or grilled vegetables, something they’re already offering with other menu items.

To be fair, we didn’t try the Sheriff’s Cut category, which we reckon is just the super-sized version of the existing steaks. Maybe taste-wise they’re different as well. At almost 1000 bucks, they better be all that and more.

Most people say that taste (especially that of the steaks) is the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of Gun Smoke. We found out that the salad bar option with each steak  is the real USP. At second comes the ambiance which the youth especially have taken a liking to.

No rival of Gun Smoke has come up with the salad bar, which is fast becoming the in-thing in this part of the world. Although many restaurants have come up with a salad bar, apart from Pizza Hut no one has been able to leverage it in the form of deals as Gun Smoke has done.

However, it would be better for Gun Smoke to allow the customer to have the salad with the dinner and not before it. What happens is that you’ve the salad 10 minutes before the steak arrives, and by then your expectations have risen to quite an extent that when you see just the potatoes or spinach, it makes for a sorry site.

Just imagine how potent the whole deal would look if the salad bowl is placed along with the steak? It would enhance the worth of the whole deal.

Coming to the burgers, they are no more tastier than most of the rivals, but at least portion-wise they are right up there with the competition. One burger ought to satiate your appetite well, what with the generous helping of French fries, coleslaw and the humungous burger itself.

The coleslaw is a bit too crispy with sparse use of mayonnaise whereas Karachiites are weaned on the pasty softer version.

Gun Smoke has done a pretty swell job of building a strong brand. But it still need to tie the loose ends if it is to become a great brand loved not only by Pakistanis  but people abroad.

The pathway to greatness has already been defined in the earlier article Gun Smoke- The Resilient Brand. What can be added to that strategy is that Gun Smoke will have to upsize the portion size of the steak, add more sizzling sidelines to them, and then offer some scintillating deals to maintain the flow of consumers throughout the week.

That is one weakness of Gun Smoke. On some days of the week, the place is pretty deserted which doesn’t do any good to the brand equity especially if a first-time customer walks in. Introduce something along the lines of Purple Haze’s Ladies Only Night on Tuesday where pretty much everything can be had at 50% discount!

Of course Purple Haze is not of the same caliber as Gun Smoke but even then it ought to be willing to try Haze’s strategy if it’s effective. The aim should be to drive traffic to your place even if that means cutting your profit margin a bit.

Gun Smoke has also introduced breakfast deals in line with the prevailing trend of the upscale restaurants. And those deals are prominently displayed on the table. However, the deal itself is not that appetizing. Not many people are going to throng the place for a mere egg with steak at a price that is pretty much the same as the dinner’s. Gun Smoke will need to come up with better deals if its customers are to be tempted out of their bed on a holiday morning.

Rangoli- The next Buffet King?

‘I’m the owner of three satellite channels and I had a very bad experience at your restaurant. Your staff is very rude and I have made video of your place with my mobile and I intend to show this on my channels’.

This was the latest entry on the comments book at the front desk of Rangoli, the buffet joint that has managed to inch towards the top 3 buffet restaurants. The person hadn’t written his name but had given his cell number, which is a bit strange. Rangoli has established itself as a major player on the buffet scene which is paradoxical to this complaint. If the customer service of a company, especially that of a service provider sucks, then there’s no way it can become a top player. And yet Rangoli is still climbing the charts.

Maybe this complaint was a one-off case, but then our own experience wasn’t swell either as far as dealing with the desk staff is concerned. This would be revealed later in the article, but first the good things.

As far as the sensory branding strategy is concerned, Rangoli has really made inroads, making full use of 3 out of total 5 five dimensions, namely, sight, sound and taste. It would do well to integrate the other two dimensions (touch and aroma) as well.

The first thing that hits you (after dealing with two sullen fellows at the desk guaranteed to piss you off) is the pleasing ambiance. Although the food hall is brightly lit, the dining hall is dimly light with spacious seating arrangement and enough space between tables to allow sufficient privacy. A balanced privacy in a public place such as a restaurant is an important factor which many restaurants especially those at Zamzama choose to ignore. Rangoli has done justice to this factor.

Then in line with the brand essence of Rangoli, there’s the desi live music with tabla and harmonium and all. What’s interesting is they are rendering the latest Indian songs in the traditional folkloric style, imbibing the senses with a soothing effect.

Coming to the food items, first the salad bar. Unlike Village and Lal Qila, Rangoli has come up with a comprehensive salad bar with all the standard items and more. At Village and Lal Qila, you couldn’t even find the coleslaw, an item that has really hit off with the masses.

The second differentiating factor is the prawns. Prawn and fish are two items that you are almost certain to find in all buffet restaurants irrespective of whether they are desi or continental. However, the way they are cooked varies from restaurant to restaurant. The Tempura style is increasingly becoming popular for the prawns, and you’ll find it at both Village and Rangoli. However, Lal Qila and Shan-e-Mughlia are still stuck on the desi style of basun smeared prawns which isn’t as good as the tempura.

The third differentiating factor is the Sajji. Although Mela does offer it and it’s as good as the Rangoli one, Mela doesn’t belong in the league of these upscale buffet restaurants. In this league, there’s no one else offering the Sajji.

Then there are a number if minor plus points, like the pasta which is cooked right then and there for you and was by far the best dish amongst the plethora of offerings.

Like Village, Rangoli isn’t big on barbeque items, offering just two- chicken boti and seekh kabab. However, both were good enough with succulent chunks of chicken on offer. On the other hand, Lal Qila excels at this cuisine offering a number of diverse bbq items.

One of the minor shortcomings of Rangoli is the division of the food hall into two areas. The problem is that the second smaller section which holds a slew of delectable items like Sajji, Mutton Roast, Pasta, Chicken Handi and Pani Puri is obscurely located with no sign pointing towards it. What’s more, you couldn’t see into that room because the view is blocked by a frosted glass door! We noticed it only after we had moved onto the desserts.

The beef pasta was a pleasant surprise as not many buffet restaurants are able to make this properly. The fried rice were too ordinary. There’s the chowmein missing which has also become part and parcel of most desi buffet dinners. There is however the spaghetti which is alright.

Apart from the afore-mentioned dishes, no other dish on the menu is worth discussing. That’s because they are pretty much what every other buffet dinner offers with no great taste. There’s the nihari, karhai, haleem, Anda Chana, fried rice, thai fish and a number of other items with no great taste.

In the dessert section, although the ice cream on offer had only one flavor – vanilla, it was quite delectable. It wasn’t one of those tasteless ice cream brands which you find at most restaurants but a homemade specialty. Apart from this, the other items more or less the standard affair.

Now we come to their customer service part and why that owner of three satellite channels may have been rightly pissed off. When we arrived at the place at about 8.45pm, we were ushered into the dining hall with the warning that the first shift was going to end at 9.30 pm and that we better hurry up. We were taken aback and asked the head waiter how could he expect us to wrap up the dinner in less than an hour, and that also a buffet one?

What did he say? Okay, we could stay half an hour more but then we should remember taking care of him at the end. Sounds familiar? For all it could have been our policewalas asking for a bribe politely.

We went back to the counter, asked for the dinner+ bowling game deal where we would play first and then come back in the ‘second’ shift where there would be no time constraints. Now, here’s the best part. The guy at the counter refused to reserve seats for us even though we were paying him in advance to book the seat. His audacious reply – that the place gets full by the time we would come back and that they couldn’t risk even a small table lying vacant when it could be earning money by accommodating a customer!

That’s the worst reply you can give to your customer, that the next money making opportunity is more important than the present customer, that he’s no more than a money-minting opportunity. Well, in reality that is the case but you don’t bluntly say it to his face.

No wonder the three-satellite owner guy was pissed off, something similar surely must have happened to him.

It wasn’t just what the desk clerk was saying but his entire body language gave the impression that he didn’t give a damn about the customer, what he only wanted to achieve was filled tables. Period.

Although customer service is not the most promising aspect of any Pakistani business, the utter disdain for your customer is something which is seldom witnessed. With this sort of attitude, Rangoli is surely going to suffer in lean times in spite of all its competitive advantages.

Deli Restaurant – Needs To Fight Hard

Deli has been around for quite some time but hasn’t really caught the fancy of the Zamzama hopping eataholics. One reason could be its obscure location, nestled between two non-descript shops in an equally non-descript by-lane of Zamzama. They say the best location to open a shop is right across the road from your competitor. Unfortunately for Deli, there’s a wall in front of it. Another thing not going in its favor is the absence of other eateries in that lane. Continue reading Deli Restaurant – Needs To Fight Hard

Once Upon A Time At Arizona Grill

Arizona Grill was one of the early brands to jump on the bandwagon jumpstarted by Copper Kettle. Pre-CK era, Chinese restaurants ruled the roost. Then came CK and the café-esque culture with bizarre names and menus chalked on blackboards came into vogue.

While many restaurants and cafes that emulated this style crashed and burned, Arizona Grill is going steady after almost a decade of existence. Arizona Grill was a me-too brand that started out fixated with CK, so much so that it even copied some of the menu items, including the famed Continue reading Once Upon A Time At Arizona Grill