When I start researching a place to eat, I have two go to websites. One is for blogger reviews, while the other is for restaurant information and recent pictures. Both sites have their pros and cons with room for improvement. This is why I’m excited for a new major player in the world of restaurant reviews. Introducing Zomato.
Founded in 2008, Zomato is an online and mobile restaurant search and discovery service that originated in India. Users are able to search for restaurants, add their own review, rating and pictures. Today, Zomato employs 800 people across 17 countries and provides detailed information about over 270,000 restaurants. Toronto is Zomato’s first foray into North America and the company has invested a substantial dollar amount into their Canadian expansion.
With both the website and app, Zomato is beautifully designed with drool worthy images and simple to use navigation. I’ve been using the app to “check in” to restaurants over the past month on my phone and the app has found every location so far. Their database is impressive in it’s breadth and depth of coverage. There are franchises, mom and pop shops and all the trendy new spots around town. Adding reviews have also been easy and there is still so much functionality in the works like conversations directly with restaurants and easy payments through the app. Integration between Zomato and all other social media networks to allow for easy sharing.
- Collections – Zomato uses themes and curates a collection of restaurants in the city to fit that theme. For example “Achin for Bacon” or “Healthy Eating”. Looking through the collections, restaurants included are all ones that I would recommend or want to try and fit each theme perfectly. This is a great way to discover new restaurants.
- Instagram integration – Including the hashtag #zomato in an Instagram post automatically pulls your picture into the Zomato food porn stream that’s featured on the front page
- Menus – This is huge! I love that Zomato actually has a team in each city that goes to each restaurant, takes pictures of the menu and updates them regularly. When choosing a restaurant, the menu is always the first piece of information I look for and Zomato does the research and leg work for their users.
- Again, the fact that Zomato made the investment to have a team in Toronto that organizes community events, physically visits restaurants themselves (not just relying on their user base) is a huge plus for me and makes me buy in to the app.
- There are still a few bugs. When rating a restaurant, even when disabling the send to Twitter function, a tweet is generated with your rating. This causes me to spam my Twitter every now and then when I’m writing reviews.
- The feedback form for editing a restaurant information is very general.
- Currently the homepage feed only shows reviews and activity from people I’m connected to, I’d love an option to read/see reviews in general from all users.
- A page highlighting new restaurants would be great.
TL;DR: Zomato is a restaurant discovery and review service that has launched in Toronto with a slick design, the resources and potential to win over users.