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Zomato – Bamboo’s Guide to the app that gets you fat.

It has been quite long since my last blog post, too long really, and frankly the best explanation I can give is that I’m retardedly lazy. There, I said it. My to-do list had contained “work”, “Eat”, “Drink”, “Hang out”, “Sleep” and “Write Blog post” and sadly, Write Blog Post is right at the end.

Anyways, that’s all going to change now because as you can see, you are reading a new blog post. I’m going to be frank – and I will be writing a blog post dedicated to this soon – I’m writing this post purely because it is for a contest. Yes, I am a contest whore. I have entered several contests to win several expensive, inexpensive, useful and pointless things, and this is a continuation of that. In fact, testimony to my laziness would be the fact that I’ve not blogged even for 2 contests recently. That’s how lazy I am.

But, back to the point, this post is about an app – Zomato. It’s pretty handy I must say, and while I am writing this post for a Zomato contest, I might’ve written the same thing even without any incentive, maybe on Day 34 of being stranded on an island and having nothing to do. The first 33 days would consist of Panic – eat leaves – try and start a fire – eat more leaves – pass out from boredom.

Let me give you a brief background on Zomato – It is a website that is dedicated to making tech-savvy fatties even fatter by bringing to them a listing of almost every restaurant in India’s metros and tier 2 cities. The Zomato app gives you all of this on your smartphone so that wherever you are, you can check out expensive places serving delicious food that you are missing out on, while you sit and much wadapav at the side of the road.

The good –

1. Its existence – The biggest boon to smartphone users that enjoy food, like me, is the existence of the Zomato app, purely because it gives me access to the names and details of almost every restaurant and bar in Mumbai.  This is fantastic because now when I want to make a reservation at  a restaurant or find somewhere to eat, I don’t have to use JustDial to get the names and numbers in exchange for my contact number, e-mail address, marital status, annual income, dog’s name, passport number and SMSs with details of 40 other restaurants that I do not give a monkey about. Therefore, well done Zomato for being Zomato.

2. Added features – Now you might say it’s easy to create a database of all the restaurants in Mumbai, but what really works for the Zomato app is those smaller, added in-app features – like calling the restaurant directly, sharing a specific restaurants details, directions via google maps, and offers. It’s these things that make Zomato’s app a one-stop-shop for your night out rather than a reference point that you keep going back to. You can favourite places and add places to your wishlist too but that stuff is sorta peripheral. The best user experience is when you can do everything you need to without exiting the app and that’s just what Zomato’s app gives you.

3.  The search – One of the greatest things that Zomato could have ever done is modify their search functionality. Instead of giving you the option to just search for restaurant names, you can even search for cuisines, specific dishes or even just general areas. An extension to the search for “dish” feature would be the availability of a restaurant’s menu. When you look at the listing of a particular restaurant, you also have an option to view the menu, which is fantastic really. The good folks at Zomato have gone and scanned page after page of kabillion restaurants and created an e-menu of sorts for users to enjoy. The obvious perk is that you can see what food is on offer and how much your meal might end up costing. It could also be used to plan your entire meal before you even get to the restaurant but the best part is, and I actually did this once, being able to go through menu after menu in search of a particular dish you are craving. These days everyone wants to go all funky with their dish names with shit like “Flaming flying chicken”, “Try-me-please potatoes” and “Do-it-doggystyle beef” so finding that stew you’ve been craving is quite hard. Instead, going through the menu and finding “Meat swimming in broth” as the name of the chicken stew you’re yearning for actually helped me fulfill my craving.

The bad –

1. The Delay – I’m not a food connoisseur and nor am I a regular eater-outer (stop snigger!), but I do enjoy visiting a new restaurant every now and then. Of course, there are several online resources, and the black-hole that is twitter, to learn about new places and how good they are but somehow, I find Zomato a little more reliable. The problem is that information on the Zomato app isn’t updated fast enough. For instance, a new Japanese restaurant opened up in town and I wanted to know what the menu had to offer. The Zomato app did have a listing for the place but sadly, there was no menu yet. Pity really. As a frequent user of the app, I’ve learnt that it takes 2-3 weeks before the menu of new restaurants is up.


2. The Categories – Here’s where I have a real beef with the app. When you ask your friend to suggest a good place to eat at, the first question he or she will ask is “What’s your budget?” The Zomato app takes care of that with a “Cost for 2” listing. The second most likely question is “Who are you going with?” which is where Zomato fails. One might be able to judge the quality of a place based on the cost for 2 and the price of items on the menu but it’s not the best way to tell if it’s suitable for the occasion. I might be looking for a real nice fine-dining restaurant to visit with my family one day, and the next I might want a romantic place to go with my girlfriend. On the third day I might be looking for a shady hole-in-the-wall bar to visit with friends. What the app could use is an innovative, unique categorizing system by which you can tell what place is suitable for what occasion. Yes, there are user reviews that you can read through to judge, but remember how I said I’m lazy at the start of this post. I’d really love it if Zomato had a list of categories that read “Anniversary”, “Family Night Out”, “Big night out with friends”, “Cheap but good”, “Cheap and shit” and maybe “Only if you’re broke”.

3. The Ratings – The third and most vital flaw is the rating system. The app suffers from a disorder I like to call “Imdb Syndrome”. Imdb is one of the internet’s biggest movie databases and offers info on almost every movie in the world. The problem is, a movie rating is decided solely by “user votes” which means if 10,000 horny men in Bhopal give a Bhojpuri movie a rating of 9/10 because it has an erotic scene with the heroine sucking on a cucumber, said Bhopuri movie will have a higher rating than The Dark Knight Rises which will have a lower average rating from around 1 million people. The same holds true for Zomato and I have the perfect example for it too. See below, Hawaiian Shack vs Kofuku. One is a shady college students’ pub, the other a fine dining Japanese restaurant. Given a choice (and money), every teenage college student will prefer to eat at Kofuku, yet Hawaiian shack has a better rating. Another thing that affects this is number of votes. It takes at least a 100 votes to get a good, reasonable rating to go by. Ideally, Zomato should be reviewing the places and rating them themselves. Maybe one day.

The Future –

As a purveyor of pointless advice, I am going to give Zomato something different, actual usable advice. Only because I like the app. I enjoy using my smartphone for doing everything. I hate talking to strangers on the phone, especially when it comes to ordering food or drinks or making a reservation, which is where I hope one day, the app can save me some rage. Some day in the future, I’d like to run the Zomato app, find a new restaurant that I want to eat at, make a reservation for a table and then set a reminder to leave for said dining appointment – all through the app. In plain words, Zomato should add an option to make reservations and order take-out/delivery through the app itself.

There you go. My first blog post contest entry. Look forward to lots more of these because well, who doesn’t like winning stuff? Also, soon, one day, I will write a blog post about why I have become a contest whore, maybe on Day 35 of being stranded on an island and having nothing to do, just after I finish my Zomato app post which I have done for no reason at all, instead of for a contest.

Disclaimer: This post has been written to help you get fat and enjoy all the wonderful food India has to offer. That is not to say that I promote fatness, the act of getting fat or fat people in general. Use the app if you want to find places to eat at, don’t use the app if your thumb is so big with fat that you always press two buttons in the elevator instead of just one. Also, this is a contest entry. Reading it will not get you anything but writing a post like this one might. Share this and help me win things fatty.

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