Is Zomato Broken? May 9, 2016Posted by simarp in : Food, Review , add a comment
Is Zomato Broken? Yes, I think so and here are a few reasons why I believe that has happened. But first, am I qualified to write this post?
I am a Zomato Level 10 – Super foodie reviewer who has contributed over a million page views by his reviews and photographs to Zomato. I am an expert in Janakpuri, New Delhi and San Jose, California and nearly an expert in five other geographic divisions. I have done 117 reviews and shared 264 photos at the time of writing this post.
I am also an internet evangelist having initiated and contributed to dozens of moderately successful and seriously profitable internet projects.
Reason for me doing this post is a news item in Mint about HSBC halving Zomato’s valuation to $500 Million. I agree with HSBC but also believe that HSBC probably missed quite a few prompters, I am not sure whether real value of Zomato is even $100 Million today. There are huge data disparities between Zomato’s data available on various independent platforms, which is definitely an indicator that the data is not reliable and there is something seriously broken somewhere.
Here I go:
- Zomato was doing all good as a restaurant search and review business.
- It was all fine because they were focused on what they were doing and not looking around too much.
- A lot was happening in food space while they were working on their search and discovery model, and they blinked.
- Zomato started expanding at a feverish space.
- Zomato started “not noticing” new set of reviewers and quality of reviewers who were joining them and posting reviews.
- Zomato suddenly stopped improving their core search and review model.
- New markets and new models started emerging.
- They took a bad call in removing online restaurants and food aggregators like HolaChef and CyberChef.
- Advertising money spent to push food delivery was a complete waste.
- From their niche of revenue first, they moved to top-line first.
- Expenses shot through the roof.
- Dressing up of numbers and selective data sharing started.
- Panic announcements to impact “we are doing good”, “we are breaking even”, “we will soon be profitable”, didn’t do any good.
- It made people wonder, is Zomato in trouble?
- Those who didn’t know that Zomato was losing money started wondering what’s that? Oh this one.
- Committed reviewers who were seeing a win-win for them stopped investing in creating their strong profiles on Zomato.
- Number of “new openings” and “closures found” reporting fell dramatically, reducing credibility of what Zomato was sharing.
- Zomato had no bandwidth to discover this and ignored this earthquake altogether.
- Their existing ground starting sinking and New Worlds were still to show any discovery.
- Panicking Zomato increased noise level and reduced fundamentally important expenditure.
- Communication or appreciation to reviewers stopped.
- Reviewers typically don’t order food and those who are searching for reviews actually want to take people out, pushing these two communities to do what they don’t intend to nosedived this business.
- Food Delivery is an extremely crowded space, making money there is no cakewalk.
- Zomato is likely to slide further unless a few billion dollars are invested to scale up magnificently and expediously in atleast 3 business segments and 20 markets.
- I would continue writing for Zomato, but that enthu and spirit is missing, that feeling I am risking my time and money by investing on a platform which may not be there in the long run is a sad feeling.
Cheese and Me April 11, 2016Posted by simarp in : Food , add a comment
Am I crazy about cheese? No, definitely not. Just short of it. Yes, I can eat one cracker with 7 types of cheese though, it is not about cracker you know, it is all about cheese. My favorites are cheese variants which leave a long lasting taste in mouth. Varieties of Blue Cheese, specially a few varieties which have Spanish origin are very good, of course they are pungent but, overpowering? No, they are not. That works best. I just don;t like a cheese which kind of plays with your palette so much that you just can’t identify any flavor after that.
Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella is my next favorite. I have never been to Italy, but surely I’ve had Fresh Mozzarella made with milk from Italian Water Buffalo. I have also had Fresh Mozzarella made with cow’s milk and they are very different from each other. A decent size ball of Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella with side of cherry tomatoes and some twigs of fresh Mint, is heavenly experience. Cutting through fresh cheese gives you so much pleasure and specially when nothing sticks with the side of the knife.
My third favorite is home made style cream cheese. I prefer ones which are not seasoned and canned/ packaged. From start to finish 7 days kind. Better fat content better the cream part of it and more. If the ratio of butter milk to milk while fermenting it is not right or it has been fermented too long this variety of cheese leaves a sour taste in mouth, which doesn’t taste well at all. I have seen that this one is most difficult to make in India in summers when room temperature goes as high as 40 degrees centigrade and beyond.
The plate above is from my Sunday evening dinner, first course of a seven course – all the cheese for the next meal week.
Punjabi Dishes Which No Restaurant Gets Right February 28, 2016Posted by simarp in : Food, Punjabi , add a comment
My non-Punjabi friends believe that we’ve grown up on a diet of Butter Chicken and Daal Makhni. Breakfast with butter chicken, lunch with butter chicken and dinner with butter chicken. When I tell them that I have never had butter chicken for breakfast in my life and would never have to, they are surprised. They think I am lying when I tell them that these two dishes are not part of my childhood memory, I don’t recall them made in my mother’s kitchen.
As a family we seldom ate out, eating out or getting food from outside were alien concepts. Despite Butter Chicken being served at all places and Daal Makhni being served as religion of Punjabis, they are no where near my favorite dishes, I consider them much hyped and low on flavors and health. From restaurant to restaurant I look for following dishes Punjabi dishes and am disappointed.
Here are a few Punjabi Dishes which almost no restaurant gets right, anywhere in the world.
- Aaloo Da Prantha
- Paneer Di Bhurji
- Keema Kaleji
- Murga/Kukar Tari Wala (Chicken Curry)
- Chaapan (Mutton Chops)
- Meat Tari Wala (Mutton Curry)
- Vaingan Da Bharta
- Suke Aaloo Payaz Karela
- Methi Aaloo
- Taazi Machhi Tari Waali (Fresh water fish in curry)
- Kadi Chawal
- Chaulaan Di Kheer
- Kaagzi Badaam Da Shorba (Kashmiri Almond Soup)
- Mangwalia Chaul (Tomato Rice)
- Chitte Choley
- Aande Tari Waale (Anda Curry/ Egg Curry)
- Kaleji Gurdakappora
- Mutteran Wale Chual
- Singhara Choolia
- Bhain Aaloo
What makes me love a Pizza? January 30, 2016Posted by simarp in : Food , 1 comment so far
- Crust: It has to be thin crust. I don’t want to eat a bread or a piece of cake, just because it is called a Pizza.
- Fresh: Everything has to be fresh, except the dough. Nothing canned or processed, even the cheese.
- Hand Tossed: Just roll it and toss it.
- Base: No burnt base please, I don’t eat charcoal, brown is good.
- Dough: At least 72 hours before it goes into oven. Made today, served today dough doesn’t bring in the natural tang, which I love.
- Cheese: Fresh mozzarella.
- Chicken: Marinated with herbs and grilled.
- Tomatoes: Flavorful Husky Cherry Red Tomatoes or any other flavorful tomatoes.
- Basil: At least an inch long fresh basil leaves
- Sauce: No canned or processed. Fresh sauce made with tomatoes, herbs and crushed red chili in Olive oil.
- Red Chili: No flakes, just smoked & baked with the Pizza red chili cuts
Two, three, four 6″ pizzas please, 8″ would also do, but nothing more than 8″ in size.
Patanjali and Us January 12, 2016Posted by simarp in : Food, Marketing , add a comment
My this post is a kind of comment/response to an article by Ravi Ananthanarayanan – Patanjali mountain or molehill? Article was published today in Mint.
Baba Ram Dev’s brand is definitely entering households, it is a slow and steady multi product entry. For my family it has entered our kitchen and replaced one FMCG brand – Dabur and two “any brands” would do to Patanjali is better. We have moved from Dabur Honey to Patanjali Ayurved and we have moved from “brand doesn’t matter” Amla Juice and Aloe Vera Juice to Patanjali Ayurved brand Amla Juice and Patanjali Ayurved brand Aloe Vera Juice. That is about Rs 1,500 per month of FMCG spend from a total of Rs 15,000.00 – Rs 20,000.00 spend. 10% share in our household which has no pro Ramdev sentiment is great for Patanjali Ayurved. All the three products are recommendations by my wife’s dietitian and endorsed by me. So, it is a word of mouth for us. We definitely use over 300 products in our home in four FMCG lines which Patanjali Ayurved operates in, mostly brands and almost all bought at least 3 times a year. So out of 300, Patanjali Ayurved has a 1% share. Patanjali Ayurved’s two of four categories have us as buyers, Juices and Food. We don’t buy any cosmetics or any Ayurveda medicinal products from them.
One FMCG major has lost about Rs 12,000.00 p.a. account, that is Dabur for Honey, which has been built over 3 decades or more. That business has moved lock stock and barrel to Patanjali Ayurved. For juices, we don’t even know who the loser is, we bought what was available at a local grosser or a chemist or a modern retail outlet.
Here are some questions I landed putting to myself. Having done that I flipped my laptop around and sat on the opposite chair to answer them inline.
- Are we inclined to move to Patanjali from MDH if they come to Masalas? No, we are happy with MDH quality and price for this range doesn’t matter.
- Are we likely to move over tea & coffee purchases to Patanjali as and when their products are freely available? No, it has taken us ages to get our combinations and tastes right. We know when we need Bru and when we need Nescafe and when we need premium brand because of a particular roast. Same with tea, Aap Ki Pasand handles our Super Premium Tea needs since two decades or more and Tata and HUL largely take care of our daily tea requirements.
- Would we move our Atta away from ITC’s Ashirwad Sharbati? Very very unlikely. That is what we need.
- Would we move our laundry detergents and current soap brands, largely HUL to Patanjali? Even ITC couldn’t succeed here, Patanjali has almost no chance.
- Our lentils? Tata Shudh has just started making an entry, local brands are getting replaced, looks unlikely that we will move.
- Chips from Lays? Cold Drinks from Coke & Pepsi? Regular juices from Tropicana & Real? Cookies from Britannia & Parle G? Almost impossible.
- Ice Cream from Amul, Mother Dairy, Kwality Walls, Naturals and Gianis? Are you joking. too tough, 5 brands dominate our house because of particular flavors. At best if Patanjali comes with some Amla-Mango ice cream and it tastes nice, it can become a 6th brand, that’s the best chance.
- Amul & Mother Dairy Milk? Amul, Mother Dairy and Britannia Cheese? Mother Dairy and Gopalji Paneer? Mother Dairy and Nestle Curd/ Yogurt? Mother Dairy & Amul Lassi/ chhach? No way.
- Chef’s Basket Pasta? Maggi Noodles? Knorr & Keya soups? Probably after next seven generations
- Nonveg? Are you kidding? Patanjali won’t enter that section ever.
- Cadbury’s Chocolates? Bournvita? Horlicks? Too toucgh for Patanjali.
I think they will replace in our household things like Hamdard’s Roohafza, Dabur Chawanprash, Organic India’s Tulsi, Dabur’s Pudinhara, Hamdard’s Sualin, Dabur’s Hajmola. Broadly the Ayurveda connected FMCG, other that odds are firmly against them. Patanjali Ayurved as brand has been developed around Ayurveda and for it to be a universal FMCG brand would be a challenge.
Clove and Mint Poached Fish March 1, 2011Posted by simarprit in : Food , 4comments
This one came out very well.
What you need.
- Fresh Water Sole (Fillets) – 500 Grams
- Cloves – 10
- Black Cardamom – 2
- Mint Chutney – 3 Tablespoons
- Poaching Liquor (I used onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, green chili and chicken stock)
- Ginger Paste – 1 Spoon
- Garlic Paste – 1 Spoon
- Lemon Juice – I Tablespoon
- Carom Seeds (Ajwain) – 1 Teaspoon (grounded)
- Turmeric Powder 1 Teaspoon
- Black Pepper
And now this is what I did:
- Washed fish in Salt and Turmeric Powder
- Marinated fish (Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic Paste, Ginger Paste, lemon Juice)
- Added Mint Chutney, Cloves, Carom Seeds, Black Cardamom and one Green Chili to Poaching Liquor and took it to boiling stage
- Added Marinated Fish Fillets
- Poached till the poaching liquor reduced to half its original volume
- Took the fillets out and had them with a side of veggies
Done and enjoyed.
Grilled Tilapia February 22, 2010Posted by simarprit in : Food , add a comment
Grilled Tilapia is one of my favorites for late dinners. I like the way it is served at Danny’s. The grilled Tilapia is accompanied with veges, hash-browns, ranch sauce and garlic bread. The fillets when well done come out very well, even on medium it is OK.
The fillets are placed on a bed of rice made in Mexican style adaptation of pulao -(Rice Pilav)
Zest Restaurant, Vasant Kunj – New Delhi. A Review January 2, 2010Posted by simarprit in : Delhi, Food, Review , 1 comment so far
Zest has been covered by most of the magazines and all newspapers since it opened its door to New Delhi’s creme de la creme on July 10, 2009. We decided Zest as the restaurant for our first family dine out of the year 2010, yes, I did think twice about it, read few blogs and concluded that it is likely to be somewhere between OK and awesome. Mini and Mishti were as excited as me as it would be a change from our half-dozen faves.
So here we go:
Location: DLF Emporio, No 4 Vasant Kunj Malls, Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj Phase - II, New Delhi – 110 070, India – Tel (+ 91 11) 43119999 – Excellent 10/10 (Though approach roads currently are under re-routing, so be prepared to get lost and keep time to reach 15 minutes on the side of error of omission)
Interior: Bar format, wine cellar followed by semi formal sitting (formal = The Orient Express, casual = Coffee Shop at any decent hotel property). Decor is great, layout of the kitchens and food counters is a little more than a bit confusing – take time to understand before you get going – 6/10
Reservations – Works, it is better to do a table booking well in advance maybe even a couple of days in advance. Give correct number, they would call back to confirm 10/10
Hostess: Busy, pretending to be busy, on the side of arrogant – all guests are never equal approach. – 4/10
Staff: Senor staff fairly competent, on look out to identify regulars all others looked like on-the-job-trainees, evident lack of confidence and no long term goals. Restaurant manager couldn’t be identified, though one person looked and operated as one, but as he was sans “you may ask me smile” I concluded that he can’t be the one whose career depends on this restaurants success. Overall 6/10
Crockery: White, pure white. Fine bone china from Luxemburg – 8/10
Glasses: Wine glasses and other tumblers were all fine – 8/10
Cutlery: I was expecting much better cutlery – 6/10
Table and seating: Very cramped layout, no walkways (you have to move around all other dinners) swill chair is an excellent idea. They couldn’t find us a table for three so they made us sit on a table for six. Overall table and seating rating 5/10.
Soups & Salads: Today they had only one soup in the buffet, an adaptation of vegetarian Manchow Soup. I am calling it an adaptation as it was one, not authentic recipe, though it was excellent in taste . Soup -10/10.
Salads were few and Cheese Platter was missing. With Red & White wine on the house – Cheese platter missing is not a good thing., there was fresh mozzarella cheese in one of the salads. I liked Smoked Salmon and Potato salad, though potatoes far outnumbered pieces of salmon. I am sure the salmon was farm raised and not wild, but good nevertheless. Total about 10 – 12 different salads were there. Salad – 8/10. Mini who is 100% vegetarian found the selection very limited.
Starters: No separate section for starters, you have to go from kitchen to kitchen to fill your platter. My suggestion skip this course and enjoy seven distinct cuisines however we did. I took grilled Sea Bass (it was Asian Sea Bass and not the Black Sea Bass which I die for in San Jose). It was very tasty, well marinated and nicely grilled, it was accompanied with White Wine Sauce which was just perfect. 9/10 – Mini took Hing Aloo 6/10 & Hara Bhara Kababs 7/10 (her ratings) – Mishti skipped
Main course: Portion management on the counters is an issue. You never have all to choose from.
The following is the mix-n-match as courses were not separated by them, we had it all together so covering them in the main course:
Mix Veg Pizza (Mini/Mishti) 9/10 – Thin Italian hand tossed
Shell Pasta with Arrabiata Sauce 7/10 – I would have preferred little more drained pastas and some more ginger flakes
Chicken Indian/ Arabic Kitchen (Mishti) – 10/10 She had 4 pieces, it was spicy and very tasty as per her
Veg dumplings – 7/10 (Mishti) they were bland for her
Noodles (Chilli, Tomato, Garlic): 9/10 (Mishti)
Shrimp dumplings: 9/10 They were good – I enjoyed them
Veg Pulao 6/10 – The rice was not the ideal rice for pulao and the full aroma which Dum Pukht Pulao can get was not there
Fish Curry – Indian Arabic Kitchen – 9/10 – very tasty though they said it was fresh river sole, which I am again sure it was not, it was King Fish and tasted like one. I have no issues with King Fish
Salmon Sushi – 3/10 It was nicely made but somehow I didn’t like the bonded taste of rice and salmon
Deserts: Fresh fruits, Cakes, Custards, Mousse, Rasmalai, Gulab Jamun. I loved Blueberry Mousse and Chocolate cake with Gold flake – Over all Deserts 10/10
Date: Jan 2, 2010 – Time: 1:30 – 3:30
Over all experience – 7/10
Price Rs 5,000/- or $ 110 – They include service charge @10% before Taxes. Base price is Rs 1,250.00 per person or $27 per person. Taxes and service charges account for about 25% and you invariably land up giving an additional 10% tip.
Valet Parking: Costs Rs 140.00 or $3
I recommend one visit, repeat is purely your call.
“Zest is now called Setz”
Tofu Sandwich Recipe November 1, 2009Posted by simarprit in : Food , add a comment
A strange situation emerged early in the morning today, my daughter Avval wanted a “Never Had Before” breakfast, here is what she was served:
- 4 Slices of brown bread
- 1 Small Capsicum
- 2 (1 cm Thick & 5 cm x 5cm) slices of Tofu
- A palm full of corns
- Few assorted herbs
- Tomato/ Onion Paste
- Mint Chutney
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Olive Oil
Step by Step -
- Bread slices were put in toaster
- Corn & Straight Cut Capsicum was cleaned and put to boil
- Tofu slices were cooked in Olive oil and Herbs were added after Tofu slices became golden in color. Flat pan frying with just a hint of olive oil as cooking medium
- Tomato/Onion paste was lightly cooked with salt and pepper added
- Boiled Capsicum and Corns were mixed with Mint Chutney
- Cooked Tomato Onion paste was put on two slices
- Tofu slices were added (1 each)
- Corn & Capsicum mixed – with Mint Chutney were divided in two equal portions and put on top of tofu slices
- Sandwich was closed with the other two toasted bread slices, and bread corners were finely removed and the ready sandwiches were cross cut into two triangle sandwiches each
- Wow, wow , wow was celebrated
Restaurants Around San Pedro September 28, 2009Posted by simarprit in : Bay Area, Food, Review, USA , add a comment
I am a foodie and would love remaining one for rest of my life. My work place is just across San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose, this post is aimed at putting on a piece of paper on what I like most at that specific restaurant. It is not a detailed review but more like – I have been there and I have liked this.
- The Old spaghetti Factory – Shrimp, Spinach and Artichoke Dip – Quality and quantity both are fine 7/10 & Lasagna Vegitariano – 9/10 This is yummy Marinara sauce makes huge difference (Both have artichoke’s)
- The Old Wagon – Popcorn Shrimp – Yummy 8/10 & Been Fishing, there take on Fish & Chips – Chips were out of the world, fish was fine too, decent portion 8/10
- 71 Saint Peter’s – Pan Seared Crab Cakes 5/10 Not to my taste & Bruschetta 9/10 – the way it should be. Main course Seafood linguine - Prawns, Scallops, Mussels, Lobster, Tomatoes – this is my favorite and I give it 10/10 – very tasty, very juicy and filling
- Sonoma Chicken Coop – Crispy calamari – Its is flash fried and tastes awesome, good helping 9/10 & Grilled Salmon Risotto 10/10 – The Wow dish of the downtown – I’ve had it over 20 times and every time the experience is just out of the world
- 19 Market – The Vietnamese fine dining – Crab and Avocado Spring Rolls – a bit dry but very tasty 7/10 & Grilled Salmon with Spicy Green Beans 8/10 (2 points go the portion is slightly less at this price point) & Brown Rice 8/10
- La Vic’s – Best Tacos and Burritos town – Super Veggie Burrito – 9/10 – awesome taste too filling and a meal for the day and Veggie Tacos – 9/10 Wow taste – in Orange Sauce takes you there 101/10
- Amici’s - Artichoke Panzanella Salad – All the veggies with bread cubes thrown in - 8/10 Tastes best with some Olive oil and vinegar & Veggie Pizza – Green Pepper, Mushrooms, Onions, Black Olives 10/10 – There just can’t be any better Pizza in this category
- Peggy Sue’s Diner – Clam chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl – 9/10 tastes good, filling & Fish n Chips – 7/10 Chips are great, fish can be less oily, helping is generous.
The above are my best 8 out of about 20 and I have had food at them several times. San Jose is a foodies delight and the San Pedro neighborhood is a jewel in the crown.