Eating in Nigeria

This post is brought to you by Hellofood.

Goodbye-hunger-2

So as I mentioned in my update on my sister’s life, she’s pregnant! Haha, just kidding, I just wanted to make sure that you were reading carefully. What I said is since she got married, and because she’s not yet working, her current job is CEO of the kitchen. Her skills are improving thanks to YouTube and phone calls with my mom, and her husband is supportive and eats whatever she prepares.

But she doesn’t want to cook every day and she told her hubby that she’d like them to eat out once in a while. He’s been very obliging in that regard: about once a week he’ll pick up some food from a restaurant on his way home from work, and once in a while they’ll eat out. I recently had the opportunity to work with Hellofood Nigeria to see if this is a service my sister (Tayters) and her husband (TT) could add to their list of ways to get good food in Lagos.

I was going to call this post Goodbye hunger, Hellofood! and I’m shocked that Hellofood isn’t using that as their slogan already. Maybe I should quickly trademark the slogan and sell it to them somehow? ;)

I channeled my inner Oprah and the newlyweds were kind enough to play along! Read through to the end: there’s a chance to win one of four vouchers for Hellofood (valid in Abuja or Lagos only, but if you live outside of Nigeria you can win it for family or friends in Nigeria).

I know you’ve ordered food by phone many a time in Canada (hehe): had you ever used a food delivery service before in Nigeria?

Tayters: No, I had not.

GNG: Why not?

Tayters: I didn’t know the service existed.

GNG: Ah, now you know!

When you eat food that you didn’t prepare, how do you usually get that food (pick up, eat-in restaurant, hubby cooks, etc.)?

Tayters: Usually by pick up or eat-in restaurant.

GNG: Does TT cook?

Tayters: He can cook and he’s made us breakfast a few times.

GNG: Lol men get such a good deal when they get married, though I’m sure they think their wives get a good deal too.

How did you order your meal from Hellofood: online using a laptop, using the phone app, or by phone?

Tayters: Our meal was ordered online through the Hellofood website using a laptop.

Online order

GNG: How did the ordering experience go: was it easy to order the food?

Tayters: The ordering experience was very easy and clear. We entered our location and were given a list of restaurants we could order from that delivered in our area. From there we simply clicked on the items we wanted and our total was calculated.

GNG: That’s good to know! I tried to locate the app but it wasn’t available for my phone, probably because I’m not in Nigeria. Were you able to download the app?

Tayters: No, it didn’t work for me either. [Her phone is from Canada and still locked so that’s probably why]

GNG: Was TT successful at downloading the app? Does it seem ok?

TT: Yeah, just fine.

How did your food arrive: by plane, by car, by stork…?

Tayters: Our food arrived by public transportation, i.e. a motorcycle. I was quite disappointed that they didn’t use a company vehicle or have anything with their logo on it. A guy delivered the food in a nondescript gray pouch. No flyer, napkins, cutlery etc.

Deliveryman

GNG: So it wasn’t a Hellofod okada?

Tayters: Nope—a public one!

GNG: I’m surprised! I had seen pictures through the Hellofood twitter account so for sure I thought they’d have branding in their food transportation.

TT: He just thought it was a regular lunch without any advertising attached.

GNG: Hellofood is definitely missing an opportunity to better advertise its services.

TT: He promised to drop off the fliers and ad nylon later in the day. You know normal Naija runs now.

GNG: Did he come back after all?

Tayters: No, he didn’t come back that day and has not come back since.

I know how you get when you’re hungry: was your food delivered on time?

Tayters: Yes it was, more or less. We placed the order around 10:30am, they called back to ask when we wanted it delivered and we said between 1-2pm and the food came at 2:10pm.

GNG: I can tell that Nigeria agrees with you: here you wouldn’t have been pleased if a delivery service was five minutes late!

Tayters: The time was not bad, only 10 minutes late in Lagos is fine.

Was the food hot when it arrived?

Tayters: Yes, it was hot and came in multiple plastic containers.

Did you get what you ordered?

Tayters: No! We definitely did not get what we ordered! When we initially placed the order we ordered fresh fish soup, goat meat soup, chicken soup, a sausage roll, fried rice, pounded yam with egusi and vegetable stew, fried chicken, fried fish and a cupcake. They called us on the phone after our order was placed online to say that out of those items they only had the fried rice, pounded yam with egusi and vegetable soup! When our order arrived they didn’t bring the egusi soup! Things were definitely not as advertised online.

GNG: I know who the cupcake was for! ;)

Tayters: Lol, you got that right it was for me!

GNG: Hmm, I think the food availability issue was the restaurant’s fault…what would you say?

Tayters: I think you’re right.

How much was your delivery fee? Did it seem like a reasonable amount?

Tayters: The delivery fee was N350, it seemed reasonable.

Which restaurant did you order from?

Tayters: Signature Kitchen.

What did you order?

Tayters: We ordered fresh fish soup, goat meat soup, chicken soup, a sausage roll, fried rice, pounded yam with egusi and vegetable stew, fried chicken, fried fish and a cupcake. They let us know that they didn’t have most of those items, so we had to change our order and added beans. We actually received fried rice, pounded yam with vegetable stew, beans with dodo, stew with beef, chicken (not fried), and fresh fish (not fried).

Signature's Kitchen food

GNG: So no cupcake? :(

Tayters: No cupcake.

How did the food taste?

Tayters: The food was not very good overall. The highlights were the fried rice and pounded yam, but the rest was just ordinary, nothing special, definitely not something expected from a professional kitchen. TT did not care for the vegetable stew at all (TT: “Just too ordinary”). The stew that accompanied the beef and fish didn’t taste very fresh.

TT: Yeah it doesn’t have anything to do with the delivery service though.

Were there any aspects of your experience with Hellofood that surprised you, good or bad?

Tayters: Yes, I was surprised that the restaurant we ordered from didn’t seem to have many of the items on their online menu.

GNG: Hmm, maybe it was an off day, or they need to update that menu! Hopefully Hellofood will look into that.

Do you have any suggestions for Hellofood to improve its service?

Tayters: Yes, Hellofood should make sure that all the restaurants that are under them follow a standard way of doing business. With Signature Kitchen our order wasn’t delivered the way I expected. They didn’t use a company vehicle to deliver the food and the food was just transported in a nondescript gray pouch. They didn’t advertise that they were from Hellofood at all. Also with Signature Kitchen we couldn’t get most of the items we ordered online, so Hellofood should make sure that what their restaurants advertise online is available for their customers.

GNG: I completely agree with you. The important question is, would you try Hellofood again?

Tayters: I would probably try Hellofood again, but definitely not the same restaurant!

What Hellofood got right: a user-friendly website, delivery of food pretty much on time, and delivery of hot food. They should work on branding themselves better in Lagos so they can reach more people, and coordinating better with the restaurants to make sure the restaurants serve quality food and to make sure what is advertised on the Hellofood website is actually available in the restaurants.

I shared this review with Hellofood and they provided a clarification on their service:

Just want to be completely clear so as not to claim to be something we’re not: Hellofood’s restaurant partners are 100% responsible from the point where they accept a customer order. Every so often (currently less than 3% of the time), deliveries may be slightly late or restaurants may have issues with food availability – just as is possible when ordering from the restaurant directly. However because of our relationships with our partners these issues are 10x less prevalent on Hellofood orders than if customers call the restaurant directly.

About the branded riders – we do not run our own fleet, restaurants are responsible for deliveries and use their own riders, so we are unlikely to ever do this.

giveaway ribbonTo have a chance to win one of four vouchers valued at N500*, do just one of the following (if you do all three your name will be entered 3 times):

  • Answer the following questions in the comments of this post:

    1. Have you tried Hellofood before? What was your experience?
    2. Would you try Hellofood after reading this?
  • Like the Good Naija Girl Facebook page, then come back and let me know in the comments. (Psst: this is probably the quickest way to enter!)
  • Leave a comment on the Hellofood post on the Facebook page, indicating which restaurant you’d order from, and let me know in the comments of this entry.

The four winners will be selected from the comments left on this post. Winners will be selected in one week, on Monday August 12.

A big thank you to Tayters and her hubby for helping me review the service and my sister especially, for allowing me to ask her a million questions.

*Contest details: Winners will be chosen randomly using a random number generator and announced on Monday August 12, 2013. Voucher is for use by people living in Abuja or Lagos, though winner does not have to live in Nigeria. Owner of voucher must spend at least N1,000; voucher valid for one month.
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Hellofood is Nigeria’s #1 online food delivery service; learn more about them on their website, on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. Please note that the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my sister’s (and her husband’s!) and my own.

20 thoughts on “Eating in Nigeria

  1. I’d heard of them on other blogs. But after your sister’s experience, I’m not sure I’d want to try them. They need to be sure their partner restaurants adhere to a certain standard. I would have been really put off by the unavailability of items ALREADY ordered. If they can find a way to have the restaurants say which menu items are available on a daily basis, it would up their customer satisfaction.

    • Thanks for your comment, Berry Dakara–you’re a doll!

      I hear you and I’d feel the same as you if Hellofood hadn’t shared that statement and if they were only connected to Signature Kitchen (whose food wasn’t great). I’d try one of the other restaurants on their website, just to see if the experience would be different—you should too! ;)

    • Great minds think alike, Sugabelly! What’s the best restaurant that you’ve ordered from (my sister needs a good recommendation)?

  2. funny there was a service like this i used back in the days in naija…not sure if it was hello foods though,,, sounds like a good concept and i hope they get it right with their partners.

    well done to hello foods!

    • Hellofood is relatively new, Aloted, so do tell your friends and family to give them a try (since you’re not in Nigeria :)).

      Thanks for your comment dahlink!

  3. I’ll try not to be a wet blanket but I do prefer cooking my own meals when I am home. Ascribe that to growing up in a family where we absolutely did not eat out:) Our parents were convinced that even the best restaurants hygiene protocols were not at par with what could be obtained at home. Growing up and eating out I absolutely agree.
    Can you tell what restaurants you are ordering from with Hellofoods?
    Nice Review! I might :) give it a try one day!

    • That’s a good reason to be wary of restaurants, dear Tomi! With your own food you know exactly what’s in it, which is a good thing.

      I love Chinese food so I’d try whichever restaurant sugabelly got the delicious looking food in that first picture on her post from.

      You can always recommend Hellofood to a friend who is fond of eating out :D

  4. Hey GNG! Since you posted about a Nigerian delivery service, I was wondering whether you’ve tried Orderit.ca or others that are available here in Canada?? :)

    • Hi Cynthia–I haven’t tried them yet, have you? How did you like orderit.ca or the others? Do they seem to operate similarly to how Hellofood is described?

      • I’ve tried Orderit.ca, Tasteaway.com (not sure if this is available in Ottawa yet) and just-eat.ca (I mostly use Orderit and Tasteaway) and have found that the service has been decent across the board. I think I’ve only had slow service twice, and once was because of a major rainstorm. All three services sound a lot like Hellofood – you pick your restaurant (vast majority are “real” sit down restaurants, with a small handful (especially on Tasteaway) being faster service (but NOT fast food-fast food like McD’s), order the food online, pay and wait (many places also have the option of pick up and others are pick up only). Try it some time!

  5. Woah there! I don’t live in Naija so the idea of deliveries in Lagos is new to me. I have to commend Hellofood, however, for this innovative service and their swift reply to the review posted here!
    1) I probably stated that I don’t live in Naija so you know I haven’t tried Hellofood, lol
    2) I definitely would try Hellofood because this company is promising. Right now it seems a little poorly coordianted with restaurants running out of materials, delivery in unmarked vehicles (factor in Nigerians’ fear of eating winch! lol)…but with time I hope there’s better operations management.
    Oh one more thing! That they have a social media presence??? Kudos to them! Will look out for them when I come to naija! :)

    • Thank you, Ginger! I can understand preferring the restaurant experience…sometimes we want to make an event out of it and get out of the house!

  6. Hellofood is soooo messed up but I am always busy so I keep using them over and over, me and two colleagues, I’ve had them totally omit one person’s other, to getting it wrong, to callin at 5.00 pm(closing hours) to ask if I still want the food(lunch ordered at 11 which I hoped to eat by noon in the office). This is not to say don’t try it. It just means be ready for whatever happens

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