Reviewing The3HungryMen5 min read
Started after a casual conversation about food, ‘3 Hungry Men’ have caused quite a stir among food critics in India. Filling the vacuum of food reviewers in Mangalore, Colin D’souza and Nikhil Pai have made it their sole mission to review as many restaurants as possible. With their strict taste buds, they make no excuses for quantity and quality of the food they review. Expanding their horizons to Manipal, The Manipal Journal ran into these foodies at ‘Desee Zaika.’
How did you guys end up here?
Colin: We came by car actually (laughs). What happened is we heard a lot about Desee Zaika and currently these guys are the only ones who are serving authentic North Kannada food and coming from Pune, I have a taste for these kinds of food. So really it was about nostalgia.
So how did ‘Three Hungry Men’ start?
Nikhil: Basically when you want something to eat and are confused about where to go, what do you do? You ask a friend. But how much can you trust this friend of yours? There are many companies who write things but we wanted to write something that was more people-oriented, where you can just call us up anytime and ask us where to go. So it’s more about reducing effort from the consumer’s side.
But why should they trust you?
Nikhil: Because we have a track record. We are simply sharing our point of view and it’s up to the consumer to take it or not because taste is subjective. We started ‘Three Hungry Men’ with one objective. We were usually stuck with one place we knew well. So why are people scared of trying new places? One factor is the price. People don’t want to go there and try something wrong which is expensive because then you will be unsatisfied. Out of a menu with fifty items, not all fifty items would be good. What we do is, we help to choose the right dish. We try out about 15 to 20 dishes from the menu and filter it out. We highlight what we like and write our review.
Colin: Our job is not to bring out the bad, it’s to highlight the good because every place serves bad dishes along with the good.
Nikhil: If you consider Ideal Ice-cream in Mangalore, everyone would go for the Gadbad and Tiramisu first and that’s how it should be.
Do you tell restaurants that you are reviewers?
Nikhil: No. See there are two times. There are times when people invite us. Like this time he knew the owner and he recommended that we should try this place and there are times when we ourselves go because of the recommendations that we’ve received from people.
Colin: They want us to experiment so they can have a good time.
Nikhil: We don’t charge for our reviews it’s free of cost. There were rumours that we don’t pay our bills which is not true. Usually in Mangalore, we go in a team of three. But in Manipal we go in bigger groups so we can try a lot of dishes.
In your opinion, what’s the best restaurant in Manipal and Udupi?
Colin: That’s like asking what is the best food. It depends on what you feel like eating. In Udupi, Thambulom is one of our favourites.
How often do you guys come down to Manipal?
Nikhil: I would say alternate Sundays, because one Sunday we dedicate to Mangalore. We all have alternate jobs, so we review in the evenings or we do it on weekends.
Do you guys have a favourite cuisine?
Colin: Yeah, our favourite animals are the ones we can kill and fry (laughs). No but really, I’m a huge fan of Arabic and Italian food.
Nikhil: I am a huge biriyani fan. I can go anywhere for a plate of biriyani. If they served biriyani even in a Chinese restaurant I would definitely try it.
Colin: I don’t like spicy food, but Nikhil loves spicy food.
So you just woke up one day and decided to start a reviewing blog? Is there a story there?
Colin: There is a story but that we’ll tell you another day (laughs). We knew that when we wanted to go somewhere, there was nobody to ask. So people were suffering from the same problem. It was like a holistic cure.
Nikhil: The implementation of the idea was very fast. We discussed it on one day and started reviewing the very next. We hadn’t even decided on a name yet.
Colin: We even started the WordPress blog only two months later.
Nikhil: After about ten reviews we got very good feedback from people and they helped us to start a proper website.
Colin: I wouldn’t call it a career. It’s more of a passion. I’m not saying it can’t go to the next level but we do it for the love of food. We are not Zomato and Burrp with a staff and investment.
Do you guys ever see yourselves becoming commercial?
Nikhil: I don’t want to focus on being commercial because we all have amazing alternate jobs that we are very happy doing. And we don’t really want to focus on metropolitan cities. We give preference to two tier cities like Mangalore and Hubli, places people don’t really review.
Colin: Given the opportunity, we would definitely consider it, but we wouldn’t want to jump the gun. When it happens, it happens.
Sub-edited by Manasi Srivathsan