No more hot mess

Updated: 05 April, 2020 08:32 IST | Prutha Bhosle | Mumbai

Design is intelligence made visible. But how many delivery restaurants take it seriously? Here's looking at our favourite city restaurants to have aced the meal packaging game

A local partner has developed tin packaging for Neel Ki Biryani. Pics/Ashish Raje
A local partner has developed tin packaging for Neel Ki Biryani. Pics/Ashish Raje

Imagine this. Thirty minutes after you order a meal online from a nearby restaurant, it arrives cold. Worst, your cold sushi arrives warm. If you are ravenous, you might just end up eating it. If not, would you spare another 30 minutes for a replacement?

Mumbai restaurateurs, who have slowly started acknowledging this hiccup, are now investing time and money in unique packaging around convenience and aesthetics. All this so that they serve you the food you deserve.

Neel Ki Biryani

A local partner has developed tin packaging for Neel Ki Biryani. Pics/Ashish Raje

Where: Available on Swiggy and Scootsy in Powai, Fort, Nariman Point, Colaba, Mahalaxmi, Byculla and Marol areas
What we like: Tin packaging

Neel Ki Biryani is known for its regional biryanis. Started 19 months ago across two locations, their biryanis came in customised paper packaging. This contained a section for the rice in a plastic container, along with raita and salan in the remainder section. Pawan Raina, business head, says, "When we started, the packaging we used was the best possible available."

Pawan Raina
Pawan Raina

Their current boxes are sustainable, reusable and collectible. They have sourced a local partner to develop tin packaging. "It keeps the food fresh and warm, is easy to open and doesn't inconvenience the customer. The tight lid ensures that flavours are trapped and spillage is prevented."

Raina says that first impressions matter, whether at a restaurant or with a date. "And so, when you have a date with Neel Ki Biryani, we want to ensure we get it right from the first moment."

The Bombay Canteen

The potli has a cardboard base and sturdy handles supporting it on opposite sides to make it ergonomically sound. Pics/Ashish Raje
The potli has a cardboard base and sturdy handles supporting it on opposite sides to make it ergonomically sound. Pics/Ashish Raje

Where: Kamala Mills, Lower Parel
What we like: Potli-style packaging

In the first two years of launching, Lower Parel resto-bar The Bombay Canteen struggled to find packaging that reflected its philosophy of being rooted in India, local and sustainable. "How could they package Indian meals, complete with curry and khichdi, without resorting to ubiquitous plastic? When they approached us to design a packaging solution, we decided to go back to our roots," says Pritha Sahai, creative director at Please See.

The potli has a cardboard base and sturdy handles supporting it on opposite sides to make it ergonomically sound. Pics/Ashish Raje

The team began to research famous cuisines and how they were delivered globally. They discovered that while Chinese food has the oyster pail, Italians have the ventilated pizza box; Indian food didn't have its own unique packaging. "What we had was a mishmash of plastic boxes, foil bags and rubber bands. This was a great
opportunity for us."

The team discovered that historically, Indians used to carry food wrapped like a potli in a piece of cloth. The potli is a parcel of sorts that the person would unwrap, get others to gather around and eat. So we took the traditional potli, and re-engineered it for today."

The potli has a cardboard base. Sturdy handles support it on either side to make it ergonomically sound. You tie the opposite corners to make sure the food containers within remain securely in place.

The team later learnt from research that TBC delivered largely to corporate offices. "We intended the potli to open up flat and also function as a picnic blanket. Finally, there was a provision for a cutlery set. We have also thrown in stickers to illustrate how to eat well."

The Baker's Dozen

The Baker's Dozen uses Modified Atmosphere Technology (MAP) packaging, which prevents oxygen transfer from the environment into the product. Pics/Ashish Raje
The Baker's Dozen uses Modified Atmosphere Technology (MAP) packaging, which prevents oxygen transfer from the environment into the product. Pics/Ashish Raje

Where: Pali Hill, Bandra West
What we like: MAP packaging

The Baker's Dozen has changed its packaging twice since it launched in March 2013. First, from butter paper to sealed plastic bags; and the second time, from plastic bags to Modified Atmosphere Technology (MAP) packaging. "We are the first and only bakery in India to adopt this technology. It ensures a higher shelf life without any preservatives," Sneh Jain, managing director and co-founder, says.

MAP is a German technology that is believed to prevent oxygen transfer from the environment into the product. Without oxygen, microbial growth is retarded and shelf life, enhanced. "It is required since more and more customers are demanding foods minus preservatives."

In addition to looking hygienic and attractive, it helps if the customer wants to carry the product out-of-station or consume it later. "If customers don't like what they see, it becomes difficult to convince them to try the product," she says.

Kofuku

Kofuku's traditional bento box has six compartments. Pic/Anurag Ahire
Kofuku's traditional bento box has six compartments. Pic/Anurag Ahire

Where: Bandra, Juhu and Powai
What we like: Traditional bento box

Ever since it launched nine years ago, Kofuku has been serving takeaway meals in traditional bento boxes. "As we serve Japanese food, the delivery box is customised.

Bento boxes have six compartments. This included a section for rice or noodles, nimoni (stew), age-mono (deep fried snack), hiyashi-mono (cold dish), yaki-mono (pan fried) and tsuke-mono (pickle)," says CEO, Rinchen Angchuk. The restaurant had roped in Panama Industries to customise the boxes. "The bento box may not look smashing, but it prevents spillage a hundred per cent and aces food presentation and hygiene."

Hilton's laptop meals

In a laptop meal, the lid is tightly packed to avoid food spillage, the container is bio-degradable and microwave safe. Pics/Sameer Markande
In a laptop meal, the lid is tightly packed to avoid food spillage, the container is bio-degradable and microwave safe. Pics/Sameer Markande

Where: Sahar Airport Road, Andheri East
What we like: Laptop meals

Hilton Mumbai International designed the concept of laptop meals in February 2019, and launched it in March this year. This innovation is for every working employee who doesn't wish to step out of office for lunch. Brijesh Singh, food and beverage manager, Hilton Mumbai International Airport, says, "Our team of F&B associates regularly head out for business meetings. During our interactions with customers, we received feedback about some corporate clients not wanting to step out of their offices for a bite. The individual packaging containers that were available had limitations."

Brijesh Singh

The team brain-stormed to conceptualise a new packed meal box, now known as the laptop meal. "While the main purpose is to hold hot food that's spill-free, the box also carries a discount voucher in its sleeve. The guests can use it at one of our restaurants or can gift it to their office associates, family and friends."

The lid is tightly packed, avoiding spillage and the container is bio-degradable and microwave safe.

Service and timings at some of the establishments featured here may be altered due to the national lockdown. Call to enquire.

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First Published: 05 April, 2020 07:22 IST

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