The store in Phoenix MarketCity is packed. Cameras are clicking, children are screaming and the staff are pulling their weight. It’s Burger King’s first day of operations in the city and I am told that they sold around 850 of their signature burgers with flame-grilled patties that day. Facebook is already buzzing with patrons disappointed to see beef missing from their menu, but this is not news. The Miami-based chain made that decision a long time ago, when they decided to create a product range that would be exclusive to the country. “This was a first for Burger King. We tested our products with over 3,000 people in July 2014 before launching our first store in Delhi last November,” says Rajeev Varman, CEO of the brand in India, urging us to try their chicken tandoor grill. That’s a little easier said than done when one has already devoured a five-inch wide mutton whopper and washed it down with a thick mango shake.
Varman hopes to increase his fleet of 34 outlets in the country to at least 45 or 50 by the end of the year, and still, he says their strategy is to move slowly. “We are looking at all the markets and have already entered tier two cities in the North (think Chandigarh and Ludhiana). We have one more store launching in Delhi and then two more in Chennai over the next two weeks,” he confirms. But besides expanding to every nook and corner of a metro (the chain has 10 stores each in Mumbai and NCR and eight in Bengaluru), know that like many other global chains in the country, Burger King too is busy experimenting with products that the average Indian consumer will not grow weary of. “We are testing rice in Bengaluru,” Varman says, brushing aside all further questions on the topic.
While we can’t say whether this rice will make an appearance in Chennai anytime soon, we can tell you that Burger King has other nibbles to keep you happy. If you get your thrills from spice, try devouring a whole portion of their fiery rings (featuring finely chopped onions) without reaching for your glass. The Italian fries are equally competent with a generous dousing of jalapeno gravy. Vegetarians need not feel left out with cottage cheese making a supreme appearance as the paneer king melt. We also recommend the veggie strips that are loaded with peas, sweet corn and carrots. But unless you enjoy vanilla ice cream blended with Oreo and Cadbury Gems, or topped with strawberry and chocolate sauce, dessert is not much to mention.
Burgers from `35 onwards. Details: burgerkingindia.in
— Ryan Peppin