Fatburger gets a big fat ‘yes’ from me!

Published: January 10, 2013

I have to say that I was honoured to be one of their first few customers and I intend to remain one for a long time. PHOTO: YOUSUF BAWANY

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 7:00pm 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):

As soon as you step in, you are embraced by this lively space much like an all-American diner. The place has a very casual atmosphere that is both welcoming and homely – a place where 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):

I met Jake, the Director of Operations for Fatburger, MENA.

He started off with a brief history of Fatburger and a few fun facts about the restaurant. Since I had a few burning questions for Jake, I started firing away.

Me: “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 it is 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 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) choice beef imported from the 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 waiting time for processing each order and we like to utilise 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.”

Me: “So have you customised your menu specifically for Pakistan?”

Jake: “As part of the Fatburger philosophy, we stick with what works best. Currently, we have the original Fatburger, a Jalapeno Fatburger (also in chicken), a Western BBQ Fatburger, a Turkeyburger and Veggieburger (this option is still unheard of in Pakistan).

You can customise 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. Limited Time Offers (LTOs) are also introduced from time to time.”

Me: “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):

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.

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):

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 chilli 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, 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 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 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 has officially opened first restaurant in Pakistan at Dolmen Mall, Karachi, and I strongly recommend it to ardent burger lovers.

PHOTOS: YOUSUF BAWANY

Read more by Yousuf here or follow him on Twitter @YousufBawany 

Yousuf Bawany

Yousuf Bawany

A writer who enjoys to cook foods from across the world. He blogs at yousufbawany.wordpress.com. He tweets @YousufBawany (twitter.com/YousufBawany)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • sympathiser

    umm i beg to differ with the aunthor :/Recommend

  • Ali T.

    Seems yummy. But advertising Bacon as an add-on is not going to win them many friends!Recommend

  • Faheem Rizvi

    Sympathiser: On what grounds? Can you be a little specific?Recommend

  • citizen

    lol ! Great review but why i read it .i so want to try it now . sad part is that i am an islooite I guess we have to wait a lot for its food joint to be opened in isb :(Recommend

  • citizen

    this place is so expensive !Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Tribune Reader

    I Liked it
    too many calories though, the XXXL is a real heart stopper
    i can still feel it from yesterday……
    check out my experience alsoRecommend

  • Questioner

    Interesting thing Halal and being imported from USA :)
    Because there is quite big difference of definition of Halal in US and in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Offffff………….you’ve earned yourself the ‘ best Fatburger blogger Critic for January ’13 ‘.Recommend

  • Ahsan Shahzad

    Okay, I would really like to comment on this. I was also one of the first customer of FATBURGER and I beg to differ with the author. It was a PATHETIC experience. I would never suggest anyone to even try FATBURGER. I went there with my friends and first waited for almost 45 in the line to order the food, I was very excited to have the food. I ordered their speciality i.e Tripple pattie burger which was suppose to be the fattest they had in their entire menu, I was really expecting something big but sorry to say it was a big disappointment. It wasn’t even the size of a mighty zinger. It was a taste less burger. There was nothing good except the free refill of drinks. I was charged RS 1100 for this deal (including onion rings) and obviously when you spend RS1100 for a burger you expect it to be something really good but trust me the burger was taste less there was no cheese in the burger, you have to pay additional RS 50 for the cheese and additional RS 100 to buy a chilli garlic sauce! I mean what the hell !! ???? It was so taste less that I left half of my burger. It was not even better than TIPU BURGER! Like seriously. I would advice people not even trying that, its just waste of money. Recommend

  • A. Khan

    The writer better watch his diet otherwise he won’t be around to watch his kids grow up.Recommend

  • Farhan

    Fatburger is expensive, the quantity is less than mcdonalds and burger king and the meat stinks of charbi, the fries are bad Im never going there again.Recommend

  • Kamran

    @Ali T.:
    Apparently you have never heard of Beef Bacon or Turkey Bacon. Open your mind and you will no longer be blindRecommend

  • sohail

    Ohhh nice to see it opening in pakistan.
    I think it would be a long wait for islamabad.
    anyways the prices are ok and a bit cheaper than other international outlets…Recommend

  • Waiting

    I have to completely disagree with the author. Our burgers were cold, our order was delayed and then they got it wrong, causing yet another delay. The onion rings were the worst I have ever had. Never going there again.Recommend

  • Zun

    The 3 patty burger shown in advertisement does not look appetizing at all! It’s clearly a fake and photo shopped burger and the real one isn’t that “FAT”! Huge dissapointment!Recommend

  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

    Lets not forget how quality substantially goes down once these fast food joints establish themselves. You have the examples of Pizza Hut, KFC, McDonalds and Hardees. Anyone who says that these joints have maintained/improved their quality can go ahead and play that game. Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    @Ali T.:
    Bacon can be made from Chicken, Turkey, and Beef. Recommend

  • Sonia

    I think u experienced the good service coz u got a special invite on the pre-inaugral day of Fatburger. For the other days, the staff did not have time or knowledge to explain what the menu was all about or even talk to you or tell proper pricing of stuff.
    The burger was juicy but lacked flavor immensely especially salt.
    the chilli cheese fries were definitely NOT worth the extra 150 bucks after we had paid 200 more already for fries and drink. We would not have paid it IF the lady on the cash register had explained to us that it would cost 150 more.. but she dint, coz i seriously think she dint even know as we asked her many times and her answers were very vague.
    Moreover, they could give a plate/box to eat the “Fatburger” properly.
    the burgers which were marked without pickles had pickles inside it. and many other mix up in orders.
    Over priced does not begin to explain the franchise. I felt like dropping my burger and going straight to MCD.
    It would be better if you gave such a review after trying the food atleast twice as this is what misguides people.Recommend

  • Haris

    1100 for a burger … :O ….. you ** kidding me !!! :@ :@

    and somebody tell me whats so good about beef from USA or onions from spain…. I dont want that.. !! Recommend

  • Karim Javed

    Not sure about this bacon thing but If they are frying this bacon in the same oil then definitely this will going to close soon.Recommend

  • http://yousufbawany.wordpress.com Yousuf Bawany

    Dear Readers,

    As always, your honest feedback is appreciated. I’ve been to a few launches and nothing a restaurant’s management can do beforehand can prepare them for the foot-traffic they’ll be getting in the first few days/weeks, especially if they are an eagerly-awaited major international chain.

    I don’t mean to defend anyone (or any entity), but everyone’s experience differs slightly. If you read the unabridged version of this blog, it clearly states that Fatburger:

    a) needs to give top notch customer service
    b) should maintain their quality and not let it deteriorate (like some of the other chains)
    c) needs to incorporate customer feedback for continuous improvement

    If I were you, I’d wait out till all the furor dies down before venturing back to Fatburger to enjoy a peaceful evening with my family.

    Cheers,
    YousufRecommend

  • HIna

    As if the poor unhealthy folks in karachi needed another burger fastfood joint! why couldnt you have just opened another one of these of your branches in UTAH or somewhere back home in USA so you could increase and aid in obesity over there!Recommend

  • AA

    The author hasn’t mentioned the price factor anywhere. Further, in US this chain offers burgers in various sizes from small to XXXL, and charges extra for cheese and hot sauce. So it’s not really a complete review, and seems to be suffering from a preconceived opinion. Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/908/erum-naqvi/ Erum

    i loveee reading ur blogs yousuf…!! :)Recommend

  • watch out – it may not be halal

    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

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/114571555/Midamar-v-USRecommend

  • Mj

    Looks appealing but at this price point you can order a gourmet burger at a higher quality restaurant.Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    We Pakistanis love to criticise! Im all for trying this place out on my visit to Pakiland this year woohoooo! Recommend

  • H

    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, luscious and phenomenal – everything that you’d ever want in a milkshake.

    Dude! with all due respect,i cannot possibly agree with you there…..clearly you’re not a milkshake person,calling that,the best milkshake you’ve ever had is beyond me…..i must strongly urge you to try the milkshakes at HOTSPOT,they’re serving the best milkshakes in town in my humble opinion….some of the best milkshakes i’ve had around the world are from Baskin & Robbins,Ben & Jerrys,Haagen Daz.You must understand,the most important ingredient that goes into a milkshake is ICE CREAM,if you dont use a good quality icrecream you cant possibly make a good shake,Fatburger is using Omore and Nesvitamilk to make their shakes.This was actually my first question at Fatburger,i like burgers but i adore shakes and the moment i learnt that they’re using Omore,i knew they cant possibly make a good shake.After reading your writeup,i was tempted enuff to order myself a glass of Chocolate Milkshake and i was sorely disappointed.Thick yes but far from luscious or being phenomenal.

    Conclusion
    Western BBQ FatBurger:Good
    Fat Fries:Good
    Milkshake:Bad
    Chilli Cheese Fries:Good
    Customer Service:Good
    Wait Before Order:Close to 45 mins if not more
    Wait After Order:5 to 7 mins

    Verdict:Go for the burgers not the shakes.Recommend

  • http://- Abid P Khan

    @Haris:
    “…and somebody tell me whats so good about beef from USA or onions from spain…. I dont want that.. !!”

    Come on man. Aren’t you impressed ?Recommend

  • Riffat Alam

    @Ali T.:
    There is beef bacon as well!Recommend

  • Ayesha

    Dear Yousuf

    Assalamu’alaykum

    Your statement is bothering me: “All the meat that we use in our restaurant here is high-quality United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) choice beef imported from the USA and is 100% halal”.

    Have you done investigation on whether the beef imported is hand slaughtered? Who in Pakistan has certified it as 100% halal?

    It is the responsibility of every individual that he/she investigates the authenticity of such statements and then consumes the meat.

    Moreover, if one did that which was in one’s capacity (i.e. investigating), then although the sin for consuming Haram meat may not be committed but the effects of eating Harm will still remain. This effect, as stated previously, will have its toll on one’s worship, Dua, and on life in general.

    May Allah swt guide us all to the straight path and keep us far away from unlawful and doubtful food, Aameen. Recommend

  • AJA

    Apparently it seems that every other person had a bad experience other than the author of this article. May be a critic which says -ve never gets invited again by anybody else. Also I have not read a -ve article by any regular food blogger about any place, that means that they are selling their souls or is it just coincidence. Recommend

  • fawwad

    Expensive….no no…very expensive
    Mediocre taste
    Nothing extraordinary….rather very ordinary…
    No where close to BURGER KING Recommend