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Hail the King!

Will Burger King’s late arrival on the Lahore culinary scene be like the grand finale at a fashion week? Let’s wait and watch, and chomp on a whopper in the mean time

Hail the King!
Superimposed photographs of Pakistani landmarks on a wall are the franchise's acknowledgement of its current location.

Burger King is a ‘whopper-licious’ experience, despite the time it takes to find a parking space on MM Alam Road. The circular building with the bright lights and paper crown-topped tables is in sharp contrast to the sad-looking Burger King outlets that are to be found across the United States of America.

Once inside, super-imposed photographs of Pakistani landmarks on a wall are the franchise’s acknowledgement of its current location.

A burger from a fast-food chain tastes the same the world over. In other words, a whopper is a whopper. Jagdish Bhagwati and like-minded analysts are welcome to view this universality of taste as a triumph of globalisation. Unlike Pizza Hut, Burger King has not deemed it important to Pakistanise their menu in order to enhance its appeal for connoisseurs of desi food. There is no chicken tikka-esque burger. There is chai though, in case somebody wants to finish off their ‘King Collection’ meal with a desi flourish.

Burger King has proudly been advertising the introduction of Pepsi freeze in Pakistan — at the start of the winter season. Pepsi freeze is essentially a cola-flavoured slush and it promises to freeze off the wagging tongues as the mercury drops.

Any new eatery in Lahore is assured of doing roaring business in the first week. Considering that the fame of the Whopper preceded Burger King’s arrival in Lahore, unending queues during the first few days have been conspicuous by their absence. One assumed that it was that time of the year again when Lahorites would happily stand for four hours in a queue, a la Fatburger, in anticipation of a bite of burger heaven. It could be the lack of parking space available on the narrow side street location that insists on sharing the coveted MM Alam road tag. Or, the sarcastic quips on Burger King doing the rounds on social media could be true; Lahore is still miffed by being one-upped by smaller cities like Multan in the race to be the first to host international franchises.

Unlike Pizza Hut, Burger King has not deemed it important to Pakistanise their menu in order to enhance its appeal for connoisseurs of desi food. There is no chicken tikka-esque burger.

Unlike Pizza Hut, Burger King has not deemed it important to Pakistanise their menu in order to enhance its appeal for connoisseurs of desi food. There is no chicken tikka-esque burger.

And, now the million dollar question: does the Burger King in Lahore gift a toy with every kiddie meal? For families with little kids, the answer will be a double letdown — because there is no kids meal!

Unlike in Burger King’s country of origin, there are no Strawberry Shortcake figures and cars to take home. Oh, the dismay. In the war between fast food loyalists, the toddler vote will definitely swing towards McDonalds. Factor in the aspect of Burger King’s blink-and-you-miss play area and you will understand why in Lahore, as elsewhere in the world, the mushrooming of the golden arches of McDonalds has the enthusiastic support of toddler-toting families.

Will Burger King’s late arrival on the Lahore burger scene be like the grand finale at a fashion week?

Will it be able to live up to its claim to satisfy the ‘king size appetite of Lahoris’?

Have the culinary gods been saving the best burger for the last?

Let’s wait and watch. And, chomp on a whopper in the mean time!

Zainab Altaf

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