Since Zomato has made a smart strategic decision in Bangalore – moved to the food bowl of the city – Koramangala, I only had to walk a bit to get this one.
A bit of an intro before we talk about the guide. My affection for Zomato – from the time I tried their app – has been documented in early 2011 on my other blog. They’ve come a long way since then – on design, scale across domains, and funding. The first 2 have been shared with the crowd, the last, unfortunately not. At a very rough level, there are two things that I feel are the pillars for a venture like this – content and ‘technology’ (user experience, database, back-end infrastructure etc) – for it to truly become a great community, and I know at least one person in each of these areas at Zomato who are extremely good at their job. Karthik on food, and Pankaj on the rest. (Disclosure: I have to be nice to them because I’d really like to get my hands on the 2013 food guide early too! ) Ok, enough about them, let’s talk about the guide.
Regular users of Zomato would automatically notice the consistency of symbols used. But the really interesting part is the navigation. The guide not only has quick reckoners based on cuisine type, but also provides a mood/occasion based quick reference where it covers (for example) girls night out, romantic dinner etc. The other part where it scores is the utility angle – so it has notables, (how many times has a visiting friend asked you which is the must-visit place in Bangalore) Sunday brunch, (I consider this a personal favour based on the queries I have received on this one!) late nighters (thankfully I don’t get these, but I have no doubts on its usefulness) and so on.
After this, the guide moves on to an alphabet based listing, with more details like timings, typical cost etc. This is also where Zomato’s inherent strength shines through – user review snippets and community rating. (with a ‘from x user votes’) The other really useful feature here is the Don’t Miss. There are also Citibank offers in some places. (also indexed at the end of the guide for easier reference) But the most kick-butt feature of all is the QR code for each restaurant, which in addition to helping you view menus, photos etc, also lets you know something as basic as whether the place still exists! All of this at Rs.199/- I’d say, worth the investment.
A few things I’d like to have seen – one way to appreciate the community would have been to mention the user in the review snippets. Quite a job, but it would mean a lot for the user. (probably make it a contest, and use one with maximum votes) It would be great to also provide an area based navigation. There is an index at the end which is again alphabetic, this could probably be converted for the purpose. Lastly, since Zomato is also active in other cities, a quick ‘notables’ for other cities would help, especially since their audience would also be the traveling kind.
The general feeling I got though, was one of exhaustion. I have covered almost 150 restaurants on this blog, and this book made me realise that I’ve not even scratched the surface!