Karachi Makes Way For Gourmet ‘Fatburger’!

Fatburger (10 of 18)

Fatburger recently started advertising on billboards all across Karachi. The billboards, featuring a mouthwatering Triple Fatburger, are pretty hard to miss, and being the burger-junkie that I am, I dragged my wife and kids to Dolmen Mall, Clifton for a bite last Sunday. Unfortunately for me though, the burger joint had yet to open for public. Disappointed and disheartened, I went home and ordered some pizza instead. They say that when you want something really badly, the whole universe conspires in helping you achieve it. The very next day, I received an exclusive invite for a pre-inaugural bloggers’ meetup at Fatburger, courtesy Food Connection Pakistan.

So at precisely 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 3, 2013, I parked my car in the Dolmen Mall basement and made my way to the second floor. Turns out, the whole area where the restaurant was supposed to be was cordoned off. I asked one of the mall guards for directions and he told me to take a barely-visible side-entrance.

The Ambiance (9 out of 10)

Fatburger (2 of 18)

As soon as you step in, you are embraced by this lively space reminiscent of an all-American diner. The place has a very casual atmosphere that is both welcoming and homely, someplace you can either hang out with friends or with family and have as much fun as you can possibly handle. The lighting is primarily done using strategically placed spotlights and is just right without being too overpowering. Should you choose, you can sit at one of the tables spread out across the restaurant, at one of the cozy sofas under the gigantic Fatburger logo, or at the sit-down counter where all the cooking, shouting and shaking (strictly within the confines of an electric blender) is done right in front of your eyes. Fatburger employees are a chatty bunch so if you’re feeling a little adventurous, the sit-down counter is THE place for you.

The Reception (10 out of 10)

Jake and Tarek with the boys

Jake and Tarek with the boys

The first person I met there was Wasif, the Director at BIL Foods Limited (local franchisee for the Fatburger chain). I started talking to him but mid-way through our chat, I was whisked away by Tarek (Director of Marketing for Fatburger, Middle East and North Africa – MENA) to meet Jake (Director of Operations for Fatburger, MENA). Turns out, Jake was holding an informal Q&A for all attendees and I was asked to join the circle. Asiya (General Manager HR, Marketing and Corporate Affairs) joined us at the table too.

Jake started off with a brief history of Fatburger (see Wikipedia page for further information) and a few fun facts about the restaurant. Since I had a few burning questions for Jake, I started firing away:

Yousuf: There are many burger joints in Karachi. What is it that sets you apart? 

Jake: Well for starters, we use freshly ground beef and the burger patty is hand-made, not manufactured in some processing plant. You should make a note of the unevenness of the patty when you order your burger; that’s because its made by hand. Moreover, we only use lean meat from 30-month old steers grown specifically for their meat. All the meat that we use in our restaurant here is high-quality USDA choice beef imported from USA and is 100% halal. The meat is flash-frozen and sent over to Pakistan to preserve its nutritional value. So in short, it’s a healthier version of your average burger where you get all the taste but little on the waist. Besides, everything is made for you fresh, right in front of your eyes, because we don’t have anything to hide from our customers.

Let me make one thing clear: we are NOT a fast-food restaurant. For most joints, the staff’s relationship with the customer ends once they take your money and hand you a receipt; for Fatburger, it’s where the relationship begins. There is a wait-time for processing each order and we like to utilize that to have conversations with our customers, making sure they are having the best time of their life. Customer service is our number one priority.

Yousuf: So have you customized your menu specifically for Pakistan?

Jake: As part of the Fatburger philosophy, we stick with what works best. Currently, we have the original Fatburgers, Jalapeno Fatburger (also in Chiken), a Western BBQ Fatburger, a Turkeyburger and Veggieburger (this option is still unheard of in Pakistan). You can customize these items using our condiments and add-ons. As part of our sides, we have Chili dogs, Fatwings, Fat fries, Skinny fries, Chicken nuggets and strips, Homemade Onion rings, Chicken salad, and Chili fries. You can choose to go with a drink with free refills or a real Ice Cream Milkshake to wash it all down.

When we launch in a new country, we start off with our core menu and after evaluating customer feedback and local trends, we add on other items. LTOs (Limited Time Offers) are also introduced from time to time.

Yousuf: I’ve eating a lot of burgers abroad but when I try the same burger in Pakistan, it tastes different, and I don’t mean that in a good way, plus the portion sizes are smaller. What are you doing to ensure this doesn’t happen with Fatburger?

Jake: We, at Fatburger, don’t like to cut corners. What you get anywhere else in the world is what you get here. We have a tried and tested recipe which works every time so we don’t try messing around with it. Tarek and I are here from the Fatburger corporate office in the Middle East because we like to keep a close relationship with our franchisees. Continuous quality monitoring and coordination ensures that the quality of our products doesn’t deteriorate.

Yousuf: What do you recommend I should try today?

Jake: You should definitely go for a Western BBQ Burger with an egg (if you’re feeling adventurous) with a side of onion rings and a milkshake. Our onion rings are actually handmade from fresh Spanish onions, not from frozen ones.

The Service (10 out of 10)

A Numbers Game

A Numbers Game

While I was waiting in line to place my order, I couldn’t help but notice the smiles on everyone’s faces behind the counter and in the open kitchen; working didn’t seem like a chore and the employees were really enjoying themselves. I was up next.

“Hello Sir. Welcome to Farburger. How are you doing?”, the lady behind the counter said.

“I’m doing good, and you?”, I inquired.

“Fine, thank you sir. What would you like to order today?”

I decided to ditch Jake’s advice and went for the unadulterated Fatburger. “Hmm. I’ll have a Fatburger without tomatoes, and some chili cheese fries.”

“Would you like a drink with your order?”

“Sure. I’ll have a milk shake. What flavors do you have?”

“We have vanilla, strawberry, chocolate and Oreo.”

“I’ll have a chocolate shake.”

“Anything else, sir?”

“No that’ll be all. Thank you.”

“Dine in or take-away?”

“Dine in, please.”

And then something really extra-ordinary happened. This lady taking my order proceeded with ‘The Call-out’, an authentic way of shouting out an order to the kitchen. I made a video of another transaction for your viewing pleasure.

“Thank you. Kindly take your receipt and this number. Your order will be ready within 10 to 12 minutes.”

“Thanks.”

As I made way to my table, all the employees there smiled at me, made small-talk and thanked me for coming to Fatburger.

The Food (8.5 out of 10)

The Original Fatburger

The Original Fatburger

While I was waiting for my order, one of my friends who had already received his order offered me an onion ring. That was undoubtedly the most unpretentious onion ring I had ever had, and I mean that in a good way. Perfectly cooked with a balanced seasoning, it was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. I had little time to admire the down-to-earthiness of the onion ring as a waiter came up to my table and put my meal in front of me, well within the promised 10 minutes.

The chili fries looked irresistible but could have used a little more cheese. They tasted pretty good too. The chili was a perfect combination of sweet and spicy, not over-the-top but just-a-hint-o-spice. Even though my Pakistani palette craved more heat, I found the chili-fries combo pretty satisfying.

I lovingly unwrapped the burger and took my first bite. It was very good, better than most burgers I’ve had over the years. The patty was moist and nicely seasoned, not too hard not too soft. The second bite tasted even better as I got a hit of pickle with that one. Needless to say, I was enjoying myself immensely. Just then, a waiter came up to me and asked me if everything was to my liking. He also brought me some tomato ketchup and my hand-scooped Chocolate milkshake.

As I was focused on finishing my burger, I barely noticed Jake coming down to my table. I offered him a seat and gave him a few tips on what foods to try when in Karachi. While we were chatting away, I took a closer look at my milkshake. Topped with a generous serving of whipped cream, it looked really tempting. I wrapped my hand around the glass, stirred the straw to mix in the cream and took a sip. It was perhaps the best milkshake I had ever had; PERIOD. It was thick and luscious and phenomenal, everything that you’d ever want in a milkshake. I finished the burger and with a heavy heart and a full stomach, took a long loving sip, only to hear the slurp that signified the end of my relationship with the milkshake.

The Pricing (8 out of 10)

Even though the menu pricing is on the high side of things, the quality and the overall experience significantly compensates for it. Since these are not your average everyday ordinary burgers, you should keep in mind the nutritional advantage you get at Fatburger before really focusing out on the prices. Plus, there are a lot of options and a lot of variations that you can mix-and-match to your liking.

The Menu - part 1

The Menu – part 1

The Menu - part 2

The Menu – part 2

The Verdict

For me, a dining experience is not just about the food, it’s about the place itself, the people running it and the hospitality they extend to you. Fatuburger officially opens its first restaurant in Pakistan today at Dolmen Mall, Karachi and I suggest ardent burger-lovers should definitely give it a try.

Now, some words of wisdom for the team at Fatburger and BIL Foods:

  • Don’t let your quality deteriorate; if you maintain your standards, you grow your customer-base.
  • Never compromise on customer service; a customer always loves polite and civil interactions, and a line delivered mechanically without emotion just doesn’t cut it.
  • Smiles never hurt anyone.
  • The customer may not be always right, but his/her feedback should be an important part of your ongoing improvement process.
  • Keep rocking those shakes the way you are and you’ll remain the talk of the town for a long time to come.
  • Extend the same level of courtesy and politeness (that you reserved for us) to all your future customers, and you’ll never have a deserted restaurant.
  • The collaboration between the franchise and the franchisee is key; never let anything tarnish this relationship.

Fatburger brilliantly succeeds in making a meal, traditionally considered to be fatty, healthy. I salute the entire team for their blatant disregard of the norms set by the burger industry giants and thank them for giving us something original, unpretentious and nutritious. Their burgers are succulent, non-greasy, and light on the waist, without compromising on the taste. I have to say that I was honored to be one of their first few customers and I intend to remain one for a long time. All the best with today’s opening.

Jolly Good Fellows

Jolly Good Fellows

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40 thoughts on “Karachi Makes Way For Gourmet ‘Fatburger’!

  1. I totally agree with the fact that Mc Donalds and KFC in Pakistan have a totally different taste. KFC quality has literally nose dived and Mc Donalds lack orginality (sometimes i feel i m eating plastic burgers). I have never tried FAT BURGER abroad cause I never heard of it. But what I am expecting from FB is that the moment I sink my teeth in that burger, I want to feel beef burger’s original and traditional taste.

  2. ok here is my take on FB. Beautiful ambiance; a typical American Restaurant look.

    As I was about to enter FB along with my sister and nephew, the floor manager told us that they were not taking orders because there system has crashed. Probably they forgot to test their system before implementing it. Anyway, she told me if I can wait for 30 mins, I can stand in queue. Nothings wrong with that as we stand in line to get our tank fills. This time its my personal tank, I would not miss it for the world. After 30 minutes, lovely Sidra took my order. I decided to go for double fat burger with skinny fries and Jalapeno Burger with fat fries. Sidra told me to wait for my order. We decided not to dine in as we were already late.

    Now the interesting part, after almost 45 minutes(post order placement) our food did not arrive. Those who placed their orders after me were done and gone. We went to the counter and asked about our order. Unfortunately, their system did not forward the order to the kitchen for whatever reason. After informing them, our order arrived in 10 minutes.

    Now comes the food. I thoroughly enjoyed double fat burger. Its taste was traditional and original. Whereas, Jalapeno was not that good. Hardees Jalapeno is way ahead of FB’s. Their skinny fries and fat fries were really tasty. I enjoyed skinny fries more than fat fries. If you are planning to dine out at FB, just go for their Fat Burgers.

    This was my experience at FB. I would give them 7 out of 10. I would have given them 8.5, if my order had arrived on time.

    • Assalamoalaikum Saad,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. Unfortunately, any good company needs to invest a LOT of time testing their systems, especially in situations like these.

      Since I was one of 10 guests there, my experience was really good. As I mentioned in the post, the same courtesy that they extended to us should be reserved for ALL customers.

      Thank you for sharing this with me. I really appreciate it.

      Take care and Allah Hafiz
      Yousuf

  3. Well this looks like more of a marketing piece for Fatburger rather than your own experience. Plus you were invited so of course the would give you VIP treatment.

    • Dear Frank,

      If you read the post completely, I mention that they should extend the same level of courtesy to others after the launch as they did to us.

      As far as my opinions on the food are concerned, they are strictly mine.

      Cheers,
      Yousuf

  4. I do think people fail to see it from the perspective of the outlet. I saw the pictures and could tell turn out was more than what was expected or could fill that space. However, as you put it rightly, they should extend the same courtesy. I found out from someone in Top Management that they lay major emphasis on HR practices and their waiting staff is trained professionals. I guess to make sure there werent orders stuck in backlog, they cleared the initial ones first. Alot of things go topsy turvy during launch events. Surely they will fix this, an american food chain cant possibly go wrong for long.

    • Totally agreed. A major chain launching in Pakistan is a HUGE event; plus, who doesn’t want to be one of the first ones to try it out and brag about it to their friends later? :p

  5. The manager openly threats customers. Deliberately delaying order and saying “Yes we deliberately delayed cuz we wanted you to suffer.” and “mall se bahir nikal key tou dikhao” … horrible Customer Service. Pathetic insulting behavior unlikely of any food chain that too of international franchise level.

  6. upplier of FATburger meat under investigation by U.S. authorities : it may have falsely labelled its products as halal”

    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-11-26/us-probe-targets-halal-food-supplier-in-iowa

    we cannot call it haram but we should avoid it until the case is solved.

  7. Supplier of FATburger meat under investigation by U.S. authorities : it may have falsely labelled its products as halal”

    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-11-26/us-probe-targets-halal-food-supplier-in-iowa

    we cannot call it haram but we should avoid it until the case is solved.

      • “We are introducing healthy and juicy burgers in town keeping in mind the health-conscious lifestyle Pakistanis now have. Fatburger serves this purpose and I believe it is today’s requirement,” says Samiullah Mohabbat, CEO of Bil Foods Limited, who is behind this new venture. This is the first time the concept of lean beef is being introduced in the market and will only be provided to customers on a “freshly ground and cook-to-order” format.
        “The beef comes all the way from the US and is halal — a Muslim slaughter house called Midamar is our supplier,” he asserted, in order to clarify any misconceptions people might have.

      • Nowadays u have to really watch out wat ur eating. Haraam stuff is available everywhere. U can get haram doritoes, haram chewing gum and haram chox in karachi. Alot of restaurants in khi put sauces in their food which are shady. I lived abroad for quite some time so Allah enabled me to check ingredients of alot of items. A close associate of mine had a chicken farm , a kfc supplier came to him and asked him for all the dead chicken he had in his farm.

      • I am extremely particular about Halal food too. Let me send this to the Fatburger team in Pakistan and get their point of view. Jazak Allah for bringing this to light.

  8. bro, these are the days about which the Holy Prophet PBUH predicted that following deen would be like holding a burning coal in ones hand. karachi is a place where u can expect these things to happen, its rife with vice but the holy place of Makka mukarramah, i saw haram kraft sausages in the bin dawood there with my very own eyes. i cudnt blv it i took it to the manager and he said “its halal because our religious ministry has passed it” so u can imagine the state of the ummah. how did i know they were haram?
    the packaging did not state the word “halal” anywhere. not even in the ingredients. it was the normal american packaging made in the usa. iv lived in the usa , ca and france and havent ever seen a halal product being sold without halal written on it. why wud they forego the extra margin.

    • I sent the concerns you raised to the relevant people and they said they have already raised the same with Fatburger USA. They said they’ll let me know as soon as they have any updates.

      Sad to hear the state of affairs in Saudi Arabia; real sad. May Allah save us all from what is forbidden. Aameen.

    • Sorry its Zohaib Motiwala Bhai need to ask a lot of questions can u give me your email.

      Regarding halal used in fast foods

      Habib (mhabeebullah@gmail.com)

  9. i was waiting for this outlet to open and am a foodie myself, love cooking and baking too. but when i read this article i was really disappointed. hope they clarify soon that its hand-slaughtered halal. then imma get ma hands on one of those triple pattie bad boys 😛

    anyways if u love burgers u gotta try this one. my cousins wife made it. it was INTENSE.

    it uses three parts of the cow in different proportions brisket , short-rib and chuck(http://www.osovo.com/diagram/cowpartsdiagram.htm).
    we collected the meat during bakra eid.

    The Blumenburger — The Most Labor-Intensive Hamburger Ever
    http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2008/05/the-blumenburger-the-most-laborintensive-hamburger-in-the-world.html

    • You and I are SO much alike. Finally, a guy who enjoys cooking and baking. The Blumenburger looks fun and I may try it out soon; heck, maybe I’ll even blog about it. 😉

      • If u like baking u gotta try this out . carrots r in season and u will love this cake.

        joyofbaking.com/cakes/CarrotCake.html

        I made it on sunday, used walnuts not pecans. Got betty crockers ready made cream cheese frosting instead of making my own. Every body fell in love with it. Making it again tom inshaAllah

  10. Dear Friends,

    Now a days, People like Fatburger a lot in Pakistan. even they never think what they are eating, it is Halal or Haram, they just like the trend and style. Do you know What is Bacon? Have a look in the pictures, If you really don’t know then see the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacon
    you can get enough information about Bacon… What i know, i spread it to you guys and now decision is yours…..

    • Asalamoalaikum Rizwan,

      The bacon being served at Fatburger is made from 100% halal beef, otherwise I would have never recommended trying it out.

      Take care,
      Yousuf

  11. How could bacon be halal ?lookup in the dictionary at dictionary.com and you will find
    bacon  
    Use Bacon in a sentence
    ba·con [bey-kuhn] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    the back and sides of the hog(pig), salted and dried or smoked, usually sliced thin and fried for food.
    2.
    Also called white bacon. South Midland and Southern U.S. pork cured in brine; salt pork.

    At least have the decency of avoiding mixing halal with haram, even in the language

    • Asalamoalaikum Imran,

      The bacon being served at Fatburger is made from 100% halal beef, otherwise I would have never recommended trying it out.

      Take care,
      Yousuf

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