Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Let's Zomato it ver2.0

So here I am writing a blog post almost after a year. Lets not get into the sad details of why such a long break(as if anyone missed me). Loads of stuff to talk about starting from my adventures with crutches to attending conferences just for the food! We will discuss those in future while this post will be ver2.0 of the last post. This time I am not writing with the hope of winning the Iphone because it will surely go to some "Senior assistant associate executive of Product Management", this is just for the T-shirt (don't judge me I never owned a red shirt before!).

If you have nothing better to do, please do read the last post (Let's Zomato It !!) to know why I never won a Galaxy last time though the mugs were awesome and Deepinder Goyal upvoted the post mostly out of pity or maybe for good PR so it was worth the effort.
Lets start with things I like about Zomato (do add the ones in last post as well):
  • The awesome cross platform experience. I use Zomato on Android , WP 7.8 and on my computer and they have done a fantastic job in making it look so lively and user friendly everywhere. ( I don't mind testing the iOS version as well but you all know what that requires)
  • The feature where you directly call restaurants from the app by just tapping is simple awesome and makes life so much easier!
  • The combo feature of wishlist, favorites, been there and recent searches is a must have for a person like who remembers the taste but not the name ( What's in a name, eh?)
  • Bonus: Information about distance from closest metro(s) is so much win.

Now the stuff I don't like or would like to see in future are:
  • This could be more of a personal problem but hey it's my blog so I can bitch about it. Earlier the Zomato app on windows phone would offer turn by turn navigation using the Bing maps which was very useful but now suddenly it has stopped doing so! It points the place on the map but the directions never load up. (I use WP 7.8 not WP 8)
  • I would love to see my recent views section synced across all devices the same as my wishlist and favorites.
  • Lastly I would prefer a rating system where users vote on different aspects say service/ambience and food quality separately rather one universal rating out of 5. If Zomato wants to calculate a single rating based on users multi-aspect ratings it can do using simple fuzzy logic. Maybe one way to implement this could be ask users vote on these aspects in their reviews instead of writing long texts which often are not that helpful.

    To defend my demand and dislikes I have to say this to Zomato - 'I hate you like I love you'. (Delhi belly - belly - food - get it...no?)

    And you end the post a thumbs up for Zomato to get me back to my blog. We will move to crutches story the next time until then eat and let others eat.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Let's Zomato It !!

When I arrived in Delhi, the primary aim was to obtain an engineering degree with added perks of a national capital (basically a metro city).I still wonder what life would have been if I had not changed my mind and went to Kanpur instead. Apart from other n issues, Zomato still does not have a Kanpur section and even if it did, I don’t think there would be much to boast about at least when compared to Delhi.

My blog’s title very easily conveys the voracious eater I am so the hunt for new places to try started right from the first week of college. The year is 2009.We did not have laptops in the first semester and we(Bihari manus-Anurag,Rohit and I) have never been to McD,KFC or Pizza Hut so the easiest way to start was go to Connaught Place and try what we saw on TV advertisements from finger looking good to I’m loving it.

Laptop was needed badly so I could search restaurants online and decide beforehand, unaware of the fact that for doing so there has to be someone who will have to put all the data online for you. I could not imagine where this must not have been done; it’s like man’s basic need(at least for a man like me). Come October, the shiny black Dell came into my possession and I discovered it already existed in the name of Foodiebay. Hearing so much about ebay in news I thought Foodiebay was a part of it, only to realize later it was owned by someone from IITD,I was like ah great minds do think alike, all hail the founder!

Boy was I happy! Either we had to go out or get some food delivered, no choice was made without Foodiebay. Maybe being an IITian startup made us more loyal to it. And it kept getting better and better. They changed the name to Zomato for the good (Foodiebay was lame) and they started tailoring it like I wanted it. Everytime I wished this Y feature should also be there and bang a few days or weeks later it was there.
The year is 2012.I was very sure I wanted a Windows phone though I did check before buying one if Zomato had a Windows app and guess what I have a Windows phone now.(people need to learn that all Lumia phones are Windows phone but all Windows phone are not Lumia!) .

Back to business.Lets list a few things which I like about Zomato and things which will enhance this feeling( things I do for incentives) For obvious reasons I won’t provide any supporting screenshots for the stuff I like. (the secondary reason might be laziness)

Why Zomato is the foodie magnet:
  • The best thing about Zomato is that it houses the smallest of the eateries to the most lavish ones. Never thought even Chutney D’Lite would be on the list even though their tawa chicken is delicious. The vast repository and still so fast and desirable results has to be applauded.
  • The second thing is the cost and rating based sorting along with location and cuisine filters which saves a lot of trouble for a cheap and lazy person like me trying to optimize my food bill and travel distance.
  • The last but surely not the least (this phrase never fits a situation except this time) the mobile app. I love Zomato on Windows phone and more so the shake to discover feature. The map integration on the app as well as on the website is awesome. Sad part, the whole new Zomato social network is not on WP7, Zomato people please work on that or just give me an Galaxy SIII so I have an access to that too.

Well there are several other things to mention like the foodie rating, reviews,events section etc but I only listed the ones which makes me go back to Zomato again and again.

Extra firepower Zomato needs to become invincible:
  • The biggest change Zomato should or could incorporate is something like Snapdeal/Crazeal. Once I found a place on Zomato (Yoko sizzlers) only to discover later that Snapdeal was offering huge 40% discount at Yoko sizzlers, same was the story about Spice Market(30%) and The Joint(eat all you can for 200 bucks!!) .I wish Zomato has this feature too; until then I will keep my Snapdeal and Crazeal tabs open alongside.
  • The other change which will make me happy would giving some more importance to chefs/restaurants so when I am visit a place I don’t have to see the clueless waiter’s face on asking “what do you suggest?”There has to be some way for restaurants to shout that out what they are best at or whats new on the menu to boast about. It is always 'feel good thing' when you hear from professionals.
  • This might be far fetched but there is no service charge on dreaming. Like twitter founder recently said social network needs a better metric than number of followers on particular website . Rating foodies based on some parameters based on number of visits to restaurants will be better than rating them based on their followers on Zomato. Maybe cheap NFC phones in future may assist this by easy check-ins but hey foursquare is surviving without it till now. Tools for becoming the google+facebook of food. (I know people hate such comparisons but I couldn't stop myself)
screenshot from homepage showing chinese food
  • Bonus : I never could explain to myself why it is there(refer to the picture on the right) Why not just show something more relevant like a particular food festival is going on at XYZ or this is kabab week at PQR or a chef section.When I visit a homepage I wish to see nothing or something which is useful and I would never missed the anniversary discount at Golconda Bowl. 

 My passion for food ( implying passion for  Zomato) can think of several other stuff right now but let’s save a few things for the next post(will probably try to reason why I don't write reviews on Zomato).


Friday, 12 October 2012

The green dot in a green square

OK,this has been quiet some wait.Usually its the other way round,you have the article and you don't have a title for it but this time it was the opposite.I even awarded a potato for "guess my nest post's title competition". The least I could do for that rotten potato waiting for its way to glory sitting there in Freddie Mercury's hand was to finish this post.

          It was Vishal's idea to eat out every Wednesday(chicken in mess) and Parag and Sankalp seconded the suggestions because they are Jains(~ veggie) too. Vakul is(was) a veggie but eating Veg-Biryani that too in mess! (refer to last post) while Gupta is like anti-everything so they both had to go out.As for me,I still don't know what was my excuse.It was surely not because I was a Khumb fan like Vakul or a Naan-Daal lover like Parag.I am also not a  pro-Chinese like Vishal.

          Maybe I was just too fascinated by the idea of going out or maybe not because the places we used to visit included Sip-B, Fx and Sassi.And if we ordered it was from Mezban(not the secular canteen which for some mysterious reason is called Mezban in IIT) or Guptaji ka dhaba.Going by the names you can figure out these were and still are the cheapest possible dinner options among a few others like Maharaja and Lajawab. For those who used to argue with me about this one:  it's Sip-B derived from its full name Sip n Byte not sippy !!

          Soon the expenses of our alcohol consuming friends made us realize we could do better than 50 bucks dinner,added to that a birthday party by Gupta(not guptaji dhaba but shashank gupta) at pizza hut called for a revised limit on expenditure .We shifted gears to Punjab Grill, Swagath, Gulati, Lotus Leaf ...the list is never-ending.

          I am surprised with myself towards that fact that I was the only non-vegetarian in the group and still I never touched any cooked flesh when I was with them,well until last year.But I have some principles too.If you take me to KFC to eat veg-zinger,sorry mate, that's not done.The good thing foreign exchange has done to Dabba and Gupta is that they have become tolerant to presence of bones next to them and it must have been Lala's previous life sin that he had Shadman as his roommate last year.If only there was a way to weight the amount of meat devoured in that room.

           Much has changed since 2009,my canines being put to use more often than ever and with Maddu (Vakul) joining the dark side(though he considers his membership as fuzzy) , veggie trips like going all the way to Rohini to eat chole kulche or to Model Town for pao-bhaji has suffered .

           Yes I know this turned out to be a little boring post,couldn't help it,had so much to write on this one.In short given an option to go out with them or with the non-veggie junta, I will always choose the veg team unless somebody is paying for my meat-fest(money-woes).

          Good news, from next post gluttonic tales will have some different kind of tales to tell.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Brown Dot In A Brown Square

Shadman - 'Ranjan,how about biryani for dinner today?'
Me - 'Sure, I am in unless it burns a hole in my pocket'
Shadman - 'how much will you eat?'
Me - 'I can do a full plate(half plate is so not me), didn't have lunch.'
Shadman - 'Dude,tell me in Kilos!'  

The rest as they say is history.If you can't guess how much a kilo is ,the picture below will help your imagination and about the fingers in there you will get an explanation:
1Kg Biryani(not from Al-nawaz)

           There has been times I have carried 13-14 Kg's sitting at the back of a scooty(thanks to Nirupam).At start it was just Shadman and me with the obvious inclusion of Adarsh (as soon as he found out) and now even Honey Patodi(claims to be a green dot) orders a kilo for himself !!But as you know honey is honey,he once ate almost a full plate of boneless butter chicken at JNU canteen(24x7) and then when he realized it was not panner he went on to argue and got a free half plate of paneer.This JNU incident reminds me of the lemon chicken,yummy!!
         Just to be clear there is nothing called veg-biryani.Its the same way alcohol consuming junta feel about mock-tails or the way smokers feel about methnol/ultra mild smokes.Call it pulao/fried rice or whatever else that comes to your mind.

          The Burra,the roasted and the fried (again sold in terms of weight) made our visits to Al-nawaz(Okhla) or their sister shops in Munirka more frequent which brings me to the downside of it.The mother of all brown dots Karim's has to take a back seat which is not a good thing.A single visit to this place with the right knowledge as to what to order can just make you go high on food.No one better than Shaurya can advocate that Karim is all about the delicious curries - peshawari, mughlai and jahagiri being the best of them all and of course the best part is their tandoori roti, its just magical. Even hypocrite veggie Tiwari digs those curries.

So our manasa-haari group follows a CoD(code of conduct) which is as follows:

  • If Mr.X is a veggie and wants to join the dark side of the force,as a good will gesture his first non-veg meal expenses would be taken care of.Mr.X if you are reading this and your mentor is denying this privilege.kindly let us know.That mentor will be thrown out of the death star asap.
  • The total expenditure of any eat-together will be divided equally among all the Storm-troopers irrespective of what and how much he eats.So if Mr.A is a veggie and he accompanies the dark side for a dine-out he will have to pay what every other Storm-trooper does no matter what cheap green stuff he stuffs.The better option would be follow Mr.X's path and join the dark side. 
  • No spoon feeding literally!!  To get maximum satisfaction spoons should be avoided at all times especially in case of biryani.(that explains the messy fingers in the picture above)
  • Shorts or loose fitting pants are the preferred dress codes. 
If the above CoD did not make much sense to you then you should watch the six Star Wars movie back to back in this order - 4th,5th,6th,1st,2nd and at last 3rd even though it would make more sense to watch it as 123456 but then you wont be able to appreciate the fact that the 70's people were able to make  a better movie(especially in terms of the technology) despite having less advanced technology than their counterparts in the 90's.

Its not that I hate light side(read shaka-haari),every dark side member was once on that side and some part of him will always be.You will get to know more about it from the next post and you can win a potato if you guessed the correct title of the coming post.

Until the next post my friends, here is something to make you feel good about the dark side
"The Dark Side of the Force is the pathway to many abilities some consider to be Unnatural "-Senator Palpatine (Episode III : Revenge of the Sith)

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Buffet tales

At first thought, going to a casino seems a bit overdoing.Moreover a casino in Goa that too on a cruise!! Would it be any good ?

The numbers :
Entry Fee : Rs.2000
What you get : Rs.1000 (Rs 500 x 2) complimentary playing coupons
What about food : There is a buffet !! No more queries from me,here are my four green Gandijis.
What about drinks : there is free unlimited alcohol!! No more queries from Tiwari.It was Shaurya's idea from the start while Adarsh was excited about the prospect of becoming a millionaire overnight(or alteast recovering his whole Goa tour expenditure)  and you know Sahil ,he was and is always like 'Just do it' people. A few more green and some red Gandhijis came out.
As for the three left out(Avnish,Vakul and Arora) ,when you are in front of a casino,playing safe is not the best move.I am sure they now regret it.The remaining part of the story needs special attention so I will get back to it some other time.

Getting back to the topic,
Buffet to me is what unlimited download is to download freaks or what unlimited STD calls is to long distance lovers.The starters which never ends,the diverse main course and then the dessert!! The chocolate fountains,tons of cakes of all kinds,stuffed things in glasses ,hot gulab-jamuns etc etc.The best part is you can do a Pan Singh Tomar with difference flavors not just vanilla.

It all started with the first visit to Barbeque Nation which might have been our last visit had any one of us(Anurag,Rohit and myself) fallen out of a moving metro.Now we know why the virtual lady keeps shouting 'Do not lean on the door' because it does open even when the metro is moving.Though later calculations reveal that it was only Rohit who would have flown out.

Like all famous cults, there are certain rules of buffets :

  • Find the exact cost  and is there any discount you can get.
  • Find what they are serving.
  • Reserve the table in advance.
  • The most important of all : Keep a fast for the entire day,the buffet Gods are disrespected if you eat anything else during the day.I now realize how much pain my mother goes through when she keeps a fast.But you gotta do what you gotta do to please the Gods.
  • Try to figure out some crooked way to make someone else to pay for your dinner buffet.This is where we are lucky to have Aman Mittal and for once Honey Patodi too!!
Honey (I have a friend whose name is Honey,how cool am I !!) will be the only person I know who pays for buffet at Zinos for three people and does not go himself, thanks to shrewd convincing skills of Adarsh.Had we taken Honey we would have to pay a part of the bill however small that might have been while in his absence we were able to avail the offer of 'dinner for three at the cost of two'(keep in mind this offer is valid only on weekends).

The other party at Zinos was again unique in its own way. The complex bill sharing formula was dependent on the constant B which is directly proportional to your stipend at intern.
B = your stipend at intern / Sum total of stipends of all the persons involved
Your share of the bill = B * total bill .

But then there are great people like Aman Mittal who alone can host a buffet for 10 people,just dont forget to invite Sagar Sachdev.We all from Satpura House thank TODAI to select Aman and we kindly request you to continue sending the scholarship on time.

Some of you must be thinking what made gave me the courage to write again.The picture below will give you the answer,Though I am still not sure who is stalking me in Germany.
Audience of my first blog post 

Gluttonic Tales is a weekly(not daily) blog so dont bombard me with comments like 'with great power comes great responsibility'.

One more thing :


Monday, 21 May 2012

À la carte

There has to be some kind of conspiracy theory to explain why the two of us (Anurag Sinha and I) end up living at stone throw distances every time we move to a new place,not to mention the conspiracy theory has to first explain why do we land up in the same village,town or city with a sub theory for the stone throw distance factor.The grand theory for obvious reasons will be called The Dulla Theory. This distance has always been greater a certain positive constant(hopefully the dual theory will estimate a value) which time and again reminds me of the saying 'Good fences make good neighbors' .I must add that you have to be real good stone thrower like Ankur Abhishek(will get back to you in another post) for your stone to land at Nilgiri Hostel from Satpura Hostel.
Oh, in case you are thinking this blog is about the 'sentiyaap of dosti' then refer to rules mentioned below:
  1. This blog concerns only with food and the drama around it .
  2. If at any point you realize the writer of the blog has nothing other than gulping food at several places during his last three years at IIT-D then you should refer to rule 1 even though realization is probably true.
  3. I neither drink(alcohol) nor do I smoke.For those of you who just murmured 'what a loser!!',the feeling is mutual.
  4. Rules are meant to be broken.
The not so million dollar question: If its all about food,why are people being mentioned? 
The million dollar answer :  The funny thing is there some weird connection between food and all my close friends.In blunt words if you and I have never dined together we are not close friends,not to mention dining together at any of the IIT's hostel mess does not count.So this blog would be about my friends and tales of our gluttonic sins over the years.
for example : Going to Pizza Hut with Anurag for the first time and ended up paying a bill of 1200 bucks or choosing to sit at far away seats to watch 'Ajab Prem ki Gazab Kahaani' rather than not watching the movie as if we already knew this would help us win the the lucky draw during the interval leading to free lunch at KFC!!.Yeah go ahead and judge me but in my defense during my first year I had nothing better to do then go and watch Katrina Kaif .

The reason I consider myself lucky to be in IIT-D is because of the 'D'.Hopefully there will be few food tales from Patna and Kota in future but if I were in Kgp or Kanpur this blog would have never come to existence mainly because of the people you will meet in the coming posts(mainly the A's,the S's ,theV's and a few more ) and the other reason is that zomato does not have a Kharagpur or Kanpur chapter yet and I guess you all know the reason as to why it is so.

One of the main reason of writing this blog is that I am bored and got no other work(third summer @IITD only Amit Agarwal can understand!!) and the other reason being Shadman and his stories of cheap and awesome tandoori chicken and biryani at Hyderabad.So I thought I would write my own stories here in Delhi and make myself feel better.

Over the coming weeks you all will get to know about the various food adventures especially in the past three years,yes I said 'adventures',you will be surprised to know what it takes to find a new place to eat and reach there and preparations you have to do before-hand,the division of bill and the fuzzy set rules of tipping to be followed and this rule is not the same as the pre-defined one in MATAB(yes there is a fuzzy logic example about tipping in MATLAB!!).

Well writing is one of my worst skill sets and I have written like 650 words in less than an hour.This is surely way beyond my daily word quota so until the next post, Bon appetit my freinds.

You are certainly welcomed to throw in your suggestion ,just dont be a grammar nazi.