Noonsey Nihari

Can ‘Noonsey Nihari’ become the Queen of Niharis?

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.

Noonsey Nihari Beef Nihari
Noonsey Nihari Beef Nihari
Noonsey Nihari Chapli Kabab
Noonsey Nihari Chapli Kabab
Noonsey Nihari Chatkheelay
Noonsey Nihari Chatkheelay
Noonsey Nihari Ambiance
Noonsey Nihari Ambiance
Noonsey Nihari Interior
Noonsey Nihari Interior

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.

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