Tag Archives: KFC

KFC Panini Rocks Karachi

KFC just like Pizza Hut and Mcdonald’s has the habit of running one promo deal after other  anytime of the year. Most of KFC deals are mere repackaging or bundling of their existing products akin to Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.

However, once in a while KFC launches something new in the same vein as Pizza Hut and Mcdonald’s.

KFC Panini is one of KFC's latest creations in the Pakistani market.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 30 Desember 2011

KFC Panini is one such product. However, the Panini is not a radical departure from KFC’s core offerings and is line with KFC’s brand essence. As such it’s not an authentic Panini but an extended version of it.

Panini are basically small bread rolls filled with any number of things from ham to salami, to mince meat, anything goes. It is usually served warm after having been pressed by a warming grill

The actual word is ‘Panino’, the singular form and Panini is its plural.

It’s actually an Italian dish which became popular all over the world once it was widely accepted in the great US of A. Now any sandwich which is toasted or grilled is labeled as Panini.

The main distinction of the original dish was the type of bread used, either Ciabatta  or Rosetta.

The one used in KFC Panini is a variation of the Ciabatta. seems like neither of these. The main difference is the upper crust which is there on these two but was conspicuous by its absence in the KFC version.

The KFC Panini comprises of the standard Zinger fillet topped with pickled cucumber and a spread of garlic mayo coupled with mozzarella cheese in a European toasted and grilled bread which appeared to be some variation of the Italian Ciabiatta.

KFC Panini
KFC Panini

All in all, the bread and the mayo were the only two differentiating factors from the rest of the KFC offerings.

The only shortcoming that we faced was the paucity of chicken chunks. Of course KFC could argue that because of the length of the Panini, the chicken cannot be equally distributed and that in some areas, the concentration is higher whereas others are barren.

However, that argument does not hold good when you take into account the KFC Filler. The KFC Filler is much larger than KFC Panini and yet the entire sub was loaded with zinger chunks. If KFC had emulated that design, Panini would be that much better.

All in all, KFC Panini is a good deal to try especially if you yearn for garlic mayo and want to delve into a new type of bread. However at Rs.330 (Rs.440 for combo meal), the KFC Filler is better value for money.

Hardees continues to mesmerize Karachi

Hardee’s love affair with Karachi is still in its honeymoon period as Karachiites continue to flock to the joint in droves, willing to spend an hour or more of their life in queues just to get their hands on something that’s mere fast food.

That’s the power of Hardee’s brand. Our second visit was at 20:00 hours on a Monday night and we had to wait almost half an hour to get in. By the time we got out an hour and a half later, the queue had ballooned to alarming proportions so much so that the police force was working in tandem with the private security guards to keep the crowd at bay.

And this is happening 10 days after Hardee’s opened up. Of course the mayhem would subside with time as well as with the launch of Hardee’s defence outlet slated to open sometime later.

This time around we tested another two of Hardee’s burgers. The Super Star Burger Rs.480 and the Santa Fe Chicken Rs.380.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 4 Oktober 2011

Hardee’s Super Star Burger is just that- a real super star. This burger beats all the other Hardee’s offerings hands down. It’s that good. It’s big, it’s sumptuous, and for the first time we felt the charcoal taste in the beef patty which was missing in our previous excursion when we tried their jalapeño and Swiss mushroom burgers.

The double decker has all the elements that make up a genuine hamburger – double patty with double cheese, onions, jalapenos, the complete works, and will put any gourmet burger to shame. It’s that good. And the thing that makes it stand out is the charcoal essence that tantalizes your taste buds in a way no other local gourmet burger has been able to emulate in this part of the world.

The only fault we could find with it is how to eat it! The bun just disintegrated after a couple of bites and then it was an uphill battle trying to keep it together while maintaining your own composure.

In contrast, the Santa Fe Chicken burger that we tested isn’t anything to write home about. It comprised of a standard chicken fillet which couldn’t even fill the complete size of the bun, mayo, a solitary and an oversize lettuce leaf that was almost twice the size of the burger and irritating to handle.

Strangely, there was neither cheese nor onion in the burger! This is all the more perplexing when you take into account the fact that Santa Fe is the premium chicken burger of Hardee’s, the most expensive of it all. And yet it didn’t have even these necessities of a burger.

This is something that Hardee’s will have to really look into, if they want to continue to make chicken burgers, although they really don’t need to, with their beef burgers having attained stardom status the world over.

But if they do intend to continue, they really need to introduce some sort of differentiation into it.

Why not a charbroiled chicken burger? At least that way they would be able to offer something uniquely apart from its chicken contender KFC and to an extent McDonald’s. Otherwise, with their current crop of chicken offerings, they’re not going to challenge even the local gourmet burgers, let alone the big Whigs.

This time around we had better luck with the ketchup as we get hold of the ketchup guy before he could slip away as he did in our previous outing. But by and large ketchup continues to be a problem. It’s true that ketchup is not for free in foreign franchises in the First World, but then, we’re not living in that world, are we? And if KFC and McDonald can adapt to the ground realities of the Third World, so can Hardees.

Now, coming to their management efficiency, one shrewd tactic they’ve employed to reduce the decision-making time at the counter is to give the security personnel the menu to hand out to the customers waiting in the queues so that they can decide what they want to eat beforehand and not waste time at the counter.

One major problem Hardee’s going to face later when the euphoria dies down is the clarity of their pricing or rather lack of it.

The glitch in the afore-mentioned tactic is that the prices are not mentioned on this menu. Or on any menu for that matter. In fact the only time you’ll see the prices are on top of the counter.  And then on your bill.

And the bill is itself is one complex jumble of figures.  Instead of quoting the same combo meal price as written on the counter, Hardees has broken down the combo meal price with beverages mentioned separately with separate price.

What this strange costing does is give the impression that Hardees is cheating by charging the beverage twice, first by including it in the combo meal where it is mentioned as well, then putting it again at the bottom of the bill.

Although in reality they’ve broken down the combo meal pricing into two parts and not charging double, most of the customers will be suspicious of this bizarre billing, more so because they’ve included yet another header at the bottom –GST.

It would be far better if they just incorporate the GST and all the intricate pricing components into one big whole to avoid any consumer backlash.  At the moment, a consumer backlash has a very bleak possibility but as the infatuation with the brand wears down, a more transparent and clear pricing would be needed to convert that initial crush into mature love.

The price itself is, of course, not the problem. People here spend like crazy on eating out; they just don’t want to be taken for a ride.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 4 Oktober 2011

There was a problem with Fanta. It tasted, well, something straight out of a hospital. When we complained to the manager, he told us the proportion of syrup in the Fanta mixture had gone wrong and told us to avoid it. It would have been better if they had put a notice near the fountain soda warning people about this problem. Nothing grandeur, just a small note.

Coming back to the menu, you would be amazed to find not a single avenue online that is showcasing Hardee’s offerings in Pakistan. Although the brand has been around for quite sometime, they’ve yet to come up with a website that does just this. Although the domain name has been booked www.hardeespakistan.com,  no work has been done it.

Yes, there are separate facebook pages for Hardees Pakistan, Hardees Lahore and even Hardees Karachi, but there’s no menu on any of them.  In fact if you search for Hardees menu online within Pakistan, you’re most likely to land on Restaurants Uncut itself. Although you’ll find a tossdown link to Hardees menu, it doesn’t go anywhere useful.

Although Hardees claims to offer Wi-Fi as mentioned on the bill, there was no Wi-Fi available.

Hardee’s continues to mesmerize Karachiites with an array of burgers that will give the existing foreign brands and the local gourmet burger brands a run for their money. How long will this passionate love affair last is anybody’s guess, but as long as Hardee’s continues to churn out new scintillating burgers instead of relying smugly on past brand laurels, it stands a real chance of converting the affair into a successful marriage that lasts.

Check out Hardee’s menu for Karachi.

Hardee charbroils Karachi!

Hardee’s has finally made it to the shores of Karachi after much hype and hoopla. Whether it was intentionally building up the anticipation – a pure marketing ploy or unwarranted delays is not known.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 28 September 2011

The end result was a big splash opening whose consequences are still being felt till the writing of this review with unending queues managed by private security guards backed up by police lurking in the shadows to handle any untoward incident.

 

Whether Hardee’s received the same maddening response when it opened first in Lahore is hard to say, but Karachi seems to be infatuated with Hardee’s big time.

 

The opening day, Hardee’s was closed to the public at large, launched by none other than Boom Boom Afridi and open to only celebrities.

 

From the second day, pretty much the entire Karachi descended upon Hardee’s located in North Nazimabad and you had to wait anywhere between 1-2 hours just to get in.

 

How long the euphoria will take to die down is hard to say, but for now it still rages on. Even now, five days after the opening, expect to spend some time in the queue if you arrive at an odd hour and a full hour at the peak timing.

 

However, once you get in, the going gets easier as the staff is ultra-efficient at getting your order through in spite of all the mayhem.

 

So, is it worth all the commotion? Ten years ago, Hardee’s would have conquered Karachi’s ‘Burgerville’, having just McDonald’s to contend with. However, now with myriad premium and gourmet burger joints springing up all over the city, each one claiming to offer the ultimate hamburger, the competition has really toughened up with razor-thin margins of error.

 

If you don’t give me the immaculate hamburger, I won’t return. Ever. That’s what all these choices have empowered the consumer to think.

 

Unlike KFC and McDonald which have forayed into quite a few delicacies that have nothing to do with their brand essence, Hardee’s is sticking to its brand essence- charbroiled burger.

 

Although Hardee’s is offering quite a few chicken burger options, the main emphasis is on the beef burger with most of the varieties revolving around this basic premise.  For instance you could take one of the beef burger, let’s say jalapeno burger, and have as many as three varieties of it: single patty, double patty or a single fat patty they refer to as the thickburger.

Dikirim oleh Restaurants Uncut pada 28 September 2011

Then they offer the option of making your own burger by mixing together any of the burgers from the main menu. However, this option wasn’t available when we visited. Another thing missing was the onion rings.

 

The biggest competitive advantage Hardee’s has, that will definitely create a yawning gap between Hardee’s and KFC / McDonald, is the offer of free soft drink refills. Pakistanis love to have their soft drinks unlimited and Hardee’s has got its consumer insight spot on.

 

Think about it. How much drink can you expect an average consumer to drink?

 

500ml, more or less. And yet the goodwill this simple yet shrewd tactic generates would be enormous. And since the refill option is left to the customer himself via the mountain fresh, there’s very little possibility of it going to waste. Simply brilliant.

 

The combo meals that Hardee’s is offering all comprise of unlimited refrills along with fries at a mere additional cost of just Rs.100.

 

The biggest shortcoming has to be the ketchup. Unlike KFC and McDonald’s where you can have all the ketchup in the world on your own, Hardee’s just had a guy appear at the outset of your meal who offered a few satchets of Knorr ketchup and chili sauce which were duly consumed in no time but the guy was nowhere to be found when you needed him again.

 

Along with drinks, ketchup is another thing that Karachiites relish to consume by the truckload and by taking away this freedom which almost all the other fast food franchises offer, Hardee’s is just making it difficult to endear itself to the food junkies of Karachi.

 

Coming to Hardee’s forte, we tried four of their offerings:

 

The Jalapeno Thickburger, the Swiss Mushroom Burger (Single), Swiss Mushroom ThickBurger, and the Buffalo Chicken Burger.  Each burger has its own unique taste. Of course the two Swiss ones have the same taste, it’s just the difference of patty thickness. If you’re feeling ravenous, avoid the single Swish Mushroom Burger as it’s just not fulfilling.

 

 

If you’ve had Hardee’s before, you know what it is. If you haven’t, don’t expect a gourmet burger a la Gun Smoke or GBC or even Roasters.

 

Hardee’s is just that – a fast food. As such the patties are your usual frozen ones – some say they’ve been imported from Dubai – which get charbroiled duly in a matter of seconds and voila! You’ve your burger. It’s a no-frills operation akin to a car assembly line where all the parts get assembled in the most efficient manner and the least possible time.

 

Both the Jalapeno and Swiss Mushroom Burger were good, as good as you can get from a mass-produced burger. Nothing wrong with the combination, you’ve got all the elements that go into making a hamburger, only that a freshly prepared patty (relatively speaking) has all the condiments working together to tantalize your taste buds. This enhanced flavor can never be replicated in a fast food chain product – no matter how great that brand is.

 

Same fact holds true here as well. However, if you can just forget the gourmet burgers around town,  Hardee’s would definitely appeal to your olfactory buds.

 

The problem is, charbroiled means to broil over charcoal, but there’s not an iota of charcoal essence felt in the taste. It tastes like your standard machine-grilled burger.

 

One thing Hardee’s can definitely do is try to come up with an arrangement where the patty is seared. This is one of the most effective techniques that the local burger joints use to ooze out that extra bit of flavor. And if they can ensure a piping hot burger unlike the other branded burgers, all the more good.

 

Hardee’s is still in its infancy stage to accurately predict how much of the market share its going to grab from the KFC, McDonald and the numerous local gourmet burger joints.

 

Only when the dust settles down from the current mayhem will a clear picture of the competition emerge.

KFC Big Filler Sub with Jalapeno

KFC has been at the forefront of introducing not just new deals by bunching together the same old stuff in different packaging, but also unique variations of its existing products.

 

Some of them completely miss the mark while some just make it barely.  Once in a while KFC comes up with something that is truly remarkable. The KFC big Filler is one such creation.

[slickr-flickr tag=”kfc”]

Although on the face of it it’s nothing unique, just a sandwich a la Subway, it’s the value for money that makes it truly worthwhile. And no it’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination at Rs.325 (the combo costing a whopping Rs.440). But it’s reasonable considering that you’re having a branded meal. The Zinger although quite cheaper than this at Rs.225 is not very fulfilling. You don’t feel like having something else on top of it but at the same time you feel something amiss.

 

This is where the Filler works like a charm. It’s the perfect answer to all those grievances we all have had about broken promises from foreign franchises.

 

For one, it’s enormous – guaranteed to fill you up to the brim. Secondly, it’s actually tasty, which is more than what can be said for many of their new offerings. In fact Zinger deals lately had been tasting a lot less Zinger and more like their clones. People had even complained of the size getting shrunk as well.

 

In these trying times for KFC, the Filler is the perfect antidote for brand image enhancement. It’s even better than the mighty Zinger which costs Rs.335.

 

So what it’s all about?

 

 

It’s basically a sandwich roll filled with zinger chunks. You have choice of two varieties – classic and jalapeno. The Jalapeno is the better version, with sumptuous fillings of jalapeno interspersed in between.

 

So what’s so special about it, after all it’s just a rearrangement of ingredients? The thing is, in this case everything clicks- the perfect combination of chicken chunks, mayonnaise and salad. The chicken chunks are in fact the zinger patty itself broken down but when chewed in this context, it’s an entirely different experience. And it all boils down to the Jalapeno which adds another dimension to the gastronomical experience.

 

The trend these days is to come up with bigger and fatter crispy patties and the KFC clones are excelling at this more so than KFC itself. But bigger doesn’t necessarily translate into  better and having to chew on a humungous entity that doesn’t fit the size of your mouth is not the most pleasant of experiences.

 

Under such circumstances KFC has done well to break away from the norm and offer something different where you can actually taste the bun and other ingredients instead of just the chicken. If all you want to do is devour the crispy chicken, then you might as well have the broast.

 

The only downside was the role used which was not fresh. But that is something for which the particular KFC franchise where we dined is to blame instead of the deal itself.

 

KFC now has the ideal opportunity to leverage the Filler sandwich. Offer more variations of it – a fish chunk version, a hot chunk version etc. KFC clones will emulate that as well but KFC should be flattered and in fact encourage this competition to ensure this product spawns into an entire category.

 

It’s high time that Cupola, the company that manages KFC in Pakistan, actually starts taking steps to make KFC synonymous with fried chicken in this part of the world. And Cupola’s CEO Rafiq Rangoonwala who has been in the food service industry for the last three decades has all the skills in his repertoire to make it happen if he wills it.

Chicken Cottage- Franchising gone Sour

Chicken Cottage is probably one of the worst foreign franchises ever to hit the Pakistani shores. Hailing from the English shores, it maybe a popular brand at home but here the way it is being handled and the standard of its competitors, there’s no way it would survive for long.

In fact it has already taken a hit when it was forced to close down its very first joint in Hyderi due to dismal sales.

Now it has opened shop on the famous Johar Mor in Gulistan-e-Jauhar.

Marketing wise it is doing quite well. In fact the only reason it has survived this long is probably because of its marketing rather than the product itself. When it first launched in Hyderi, it spent a fortune on billboards and banners plying the main roads and flyovers in that entire district, playing on its English roots.

The joint did a roaring business in the days immediately after the launch. However, after a while, the euphoria died down and the only thing remained in its wake was the report that Chicken Cottage was expensive and awful, a poor substitute for KFC.

No doubt the place closed down. The Johar joint had a good launch strategy as well, what with 20% discount on the first three days and a clown hanging outside to woo the children. And the strategy was working well because the place was getting some foot traffic.

However, a marketing strategy can only take you so far. You need to have sound management to make things work.

Here’s an example of how they went terribly wrong:

On the second day that we visited, when the lights went out courtesy the scheduled loadshedding, the generator worked for a few minutes and then everything was shrouded in darkness. When the eerie darkness remained for more than 10 minutes, we inquired what was wrong, and the meek reply came that the generator was out of petrol.

By the time the petrol arrived, we had managed to grapple successfully with our food but were completely drenched in sweat. The justification given was that because they had just opened, things were still a little out of place.

Imagine a UK-based fast food franchise. How could they not prepare for the loadshedding especially when it is on schedule now and they had already ample experience of Karachi market by operating in Hyderi. This is something totally inexcusable.

And if this was not enough, the food was remarkably mediocre and exorbitantly priced.  We tried their Mountain Burger, the Fish Fillet and the Quarter Pounder.

First, the Mountain Burger. It was supposed to be a double-decker of sorts with a crispy chicken patty on top of which sat a chicken fillet patty.  In reality, we were hard-pressed to find the other patty, it was that small. The crispy part was so dry that it felt like we trudging through the Sahara desert instead of munching on a crusty burger. We tried to counter the dryness with the soft drink but the drink was an ordeal in itself. It tasted more like the soft drink that they sell on the thela in which they pump gas of their own.

Then came the Quarter Pounder, which they claim to be made of lamb instead of beef. It tasted like beef and was the better of the other two. However, the size does not justify the price. At Rs. 299, you better make the meal (burger+ fries+drink) fulfilling enough which it wasn’t.

The fish fillet was another disappointment. It tasted more like almond than fish. Again the size did not justify the price of Rs.270.

Bad Service, Mediocre Taste, and Outrageous Price – this pretty much sums the brand essence of Chicken Cottage. If it is to rise above the competition, it will have to do a whole lot more than what it is doing now.

Our prediction is that it’s not going to last for long.

Nando’s ‘Sharing is Caring’ Deal

Nandos new ‘Sharing is Caring’ deal supposed to have the ‘best family value’ is essentially a publicity stunt to hook more people on to its flagship product – peri peri chicken. Not a bad idea in itself. Both KFC and Pizza Hut have captured a huge chunk of the Pakistani market using precisely these tactics.

Whether it’s going to hit off with the consumer is too early to say, but this much is certain- it cannot compete with the likes of Espetada Rustica. There are many reasons for that, the biggest being there’s no story wrapped around this brand like it was in Espetada Rustica. There’s no talk of Christopher Columbus having an affinity for this exotic dish while on his daring adventures, no unique presentation of the dish like the strange hook-style skewer, even the ad is pretty straight forward devoid of any humor or even the Portuguese accent like in the previous ad.

Then there’s the pricing. At Rs.1160 (Rs.999 +GST), the deal’s a bit on the expensive side. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that the creators of the deal have  indicated that the deal is four people but when you actually see the deal, it’s sufficient for only three adults. Let’s say that the family Nando’s is talking about comprising of a couple and their two children. Even then it won’t be enough for this small family. They’ll just have to order something else or go elsewhere.

What exactly does the deal comprise of? A ‘full’ chicken, four Portuguese buns, four sidelines (either fries or coleslaw only) and four drinks. The biggest misleading word is ‘full’ here. When you see the price coupled with this word ‘full’, the image that would conjure up in any consumer’s mind would be a succulently fat chicken enough to satiate the appetite of four people.

But when the ‘full’ chicken is actually placed in front of you, you wonder whether the chicken was imported from the impoverished lands of Africa. There are four pieces of grilled chicken and that must have belonged to a starving hen. The fries and coleslaw are alright both quantity and quality wise. The Portuguese buns, however, are a problem again. If you haven’t tasted them before, you would expect something along the lines of Focaccia  bread. But when you actually dig into these buns, you feel….. nothing. It’s just ordinary bread baked in a unique shape. What’s more, its completely dry and there’s no butter or dip or anything to go with the buns. Unless of course you want to dip the buns in the peri peri sauces. We tried, but the experience wasn’t good.

Taste-wise the whole deal is not bad but it’s not remarkable either. Either Nando’s should have kept the price low, the quantity high or if they didn’t want to change either of these two factors, they should have built up some hype around it like they did with Espetada Rustica.

Maybe Nando’s people have got into their head that it’s their core product that sells and not the brand. If that is their line of thinking, then they are in for some rude awakening. The truth of the matter is that their grilled chicken tastes pretty much what a grilled chicken tastes like at any upscale local restaurant. There’s no remarkable differentiation akin to KFC or even Pizza Hut’s USP. Nando’s brilliant branding and sales promotional tactics, specifically the tongue-in-cheek humor in their advertising is largely to account for the 6% share it holds in the Pakistani market. Strip away all the branding, and Nando’s wouldn’t be able to hold on to even this measly 6%. And that brilliance was sadly missing in this case.

Although Nando’s core competency the world over is its numerous sauces, in this part of the world they haven’t been able to enthrall the local populace.

So how can they go beyond the mundane and challenge the leaders? Follow what they did with Espetada Rustica. Weave a story around whatever the hell they are offering. Maybe a king used to love this mode of grilling chicken in the 10th century. How about Robin Hood’s culinary delight? Anything that catches the fancy of the target market. A unique style of presenting the deal would be extremely useful, after all packaging is an integral part of branding. And then present a clear positioning of the meal and price it according to that positioning. If the deal is just to scintillate the olfactory buds of the consumer and not satiate his appetite, this ought to be communicated.

Nando’s really has a tremendous opportunity of capturing a sizeable chunk of the Pakistani market especially since people already love having grilled chicken. What it needs to do is come up with attractive deals that offer the biggest bang for buck instead of merely teasing the consumer’s appetite.

Nandos consumerater
Nandos consumerater

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